"Ateliers François, the world's leading manufacturer of compressors, will celebrate its 150th anniversary with its international customers in the Belgian pavilion at Expo 2020 DUBAI. 1910, 1935... it has to be said that this Liège-based company is no stranger to World Expos. For more than a century, this presence has contributed to the worldwide recognition of Walloon industrial expertise. Portrait.
Who are "Ateliers François"?
Known worldwide under the more technical name "AF COMPRESSORS", Ateliers François S.A. (AF) is the world's leading manufacturer of oil-free piston compressors for the PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottling industry. This international positioning is the result of 150 years of technological adaptations for the company, in line with the changing challenges and needs of humanity.
Because in 1870, the newly created, Liège-based, family company "AF Compressors" specialised in the production of pneumatic hammers for the mining industry and public building sites, in particular for constructing tunnels for the mines... And in over a century, AF has continued to follow history and seen not only difficult times, but also the most innovative ones.
The company as we know it today emerged due to the PET bottling industry in the 1980s. From this period until today, Ateliers François has continued to develop numerous subsidiaries and supports across the 5 continents all at the same time, so that it can constantly anticipate the needs of the market. AF's customers and references come from more than 175 countries and include blow-moulding machine manufacturers, producers of water, soft drinks, tea, juices and edible oils, as well as major breweries, dairies and cosmetics companies using PET applications.
Since the 2010s, AF has diversified its products based on the same oil-free piston technology to return to the application of oil-free standard air (8 and 10 bar). In 2021, AF has nearly 500 low-pressure units in some 100 countries, in the bottling, food and brewing industries, as well as in the textile, pharmaceutical, steel and chemical industries.
Destination Middle East
In the 1960s, AF set up an eponymous limited company in Liege to support the expansion of its international activities. In 2008, the company eventually established a subsidiary in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in the United Arab Emirates which covers sales and after sales operations for the Gulf area, East Africa, the C.I.S. region as well as Egypt and Libya. It supplies its machines (15% of the stock installed by AF) and services to all the largest bottlers/beverage manufacturers in the region (Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Oasis NFPC, Mai Dubai, Masafi, SEWA Zulal, Aghtia Group (al Ain Water), IFFCO,...) where it holds more than 85% of the market share.
Present at World Expos for more than... 100 years!
On 6 November, "Ateliers François" will celebrate its 150th anniversary in the Belgian pavilion. Organised with the help of the local Wallonia Export-Investment Agency team, the company will welcome nearly a hundred guests from the Gulf countries, the Middle East, Africa, France, Germany, the Levant, etc. as well as companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi on the rooftop
A first for Ateliers François? Certainly not. The company has been a regular participant in world exhibitions for more than a century, with regular appearances at the famous (and local) exhibitions in Brussels in 1910 and 1935!