When the water comes.
The first airlift pump on a Unimog has arrived.

From pioneers for pioneers: the water management experts at the Dresden-based wks group have utilised the overflowing power of a Unimog U 535 to build a unique mobile hydraulic pump. An invention of great significance, as it is likely to help local authorities around the world to better cope with the threat of flooding.

Milestone for flood protection.

“Wann kommt die Flut...? ” (When is the flood coming?) sang Peter Heppner to such great acclaim that his song “Flut” won a Platinum award. For those who fear flooding during heavy rains where they live however, this song is unlikely to ever be a popular ditty. Axel Marx from Dresden is responsible for the question “When will the flood go away?”.

Clean drinking water in no time at all with the Unimog.

He is managing director of the 150-employee strong wks group Germany, which develops and builds water management systems. These include, for example, waterworks, sewage treatment plants and rainwater retention basins. Axel Marx and his small team of creative minds has developed something which could be a godsend for many municipalities at risk of flooding.

More effective in the event of a disaster.

The horror scenario looks like this: it rains cats and dogs for days, the sewage system is at full capacity but can no longer run off into the nearby river on its own. The result is that the city is under water. Of course, systems that use fixed pumps to pump the mixed water (rain and wastewater) from the sewer into the river are nothing new.

But these systems, which may be needed every ten years or so, are very maintenance-intensive and expensive. “And in the end, when a disaster is impending, they are usually in need of repair,” says Axel Marx speaking from experience.

After intensive research at TU Dresden, Axel Marx and his team developed a mobile pump system– based on a Unimog U 535 in Deep Orange with a long wheelbase (3900 mm) and 354 hp.

Unimog hydraulic motor goes full throttle.

The advantage of his solution is as follows: if the worst comes to the worst, the Unimog, which carries a gigantic blower unit (2x 110 kW) on a swap-body, will be driven to the dike or similar flood protection system by the river. At this location, a sturdy air pressure hose is connected to a fixed pipe coming out of the sewer. And then: full throttle!

The Unimog drives the hydraulic motors in the hydraulic pump via its PTOs. A special 500 l oil tank has been installed under the driver’s side for this purpose. There was also a 300 l diesel tank for long-term pump station use.

The Unimog has a gigantic fording depth and in our case it is completely self-sufficient.

Axel Marx, Managing Director, wks group


On duty no later than two hours after the alarm.

The principle is simple: the mobile airlift pump generates immense air pressure. The hose is connected at the lowest point of the sewer system. The air bubbles rising from below push the water from the sewer up to the dike and into the river.

Disaster relief: Where only rubber dinghies and Unimogs can help

A mobile water hoist with an hourly flow rate of between 500 and 3,500 m3. Advantages of this system: The Unimog can be used in the day-to-day work of local waterworks and can be made ready for use after two hours at the latest in the event of a disaster.

Alternative solutions with pumps and units on trailers take up to 24 hours to get up and running, take up a lot of space and require a lot of maintenance.

The first customer has already been found.

The opening of the mobile airlift pump is up to 80 cm wide.  “Branches and bricks pass through this easily,” says Axel Marx.

“The flexibility of the vehicle convinced us to offer the system on the Unimog. The Unimog is fast, requires little space, it is completely self-sufficient, and, in our case too, it can hoist the pump system itself using the Palfinger loading crane.” The first customer of wks Group Germany is the city of Weissenfels in the Burgenland district near Leipzig. The Saale river, which flows through the centre of the town, is at risk of flooding.

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Project realised with dealer:
Henne Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH

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