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Sales for the Group reach over billion euros
Endress+Hauser grows significantly

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Endress+Hauser
Picture: Endress+Hauser

Endress+Hauser experienced strong growth across all regions, sectors and product areas in 2018. The ongoing digitalization of the industry and positive development on the international markets provided impetus. The Group increased sales and profits, invested heavily and created hundreds of jobs worldwide.

“The bottom line is, 2018 was a good year for Endress+Hauser worldwide,” explained CEO Matthias Altendorf at the Group’s annual media conference in Basel. The Group increased net sales by 9.5 percent to 2.455 billion euros, despite facing strong headwinds from foreign exchange rates. Expressed in local currencies, sales grew by 12.7 percent.

US moves to number one

The business was bolstered by a strong economy in the process automation sector. Continued high demand from private consumers, as well as recovering oil and raw material prices, contributed to the solid growth. After years of somewhat restrained investment activity, large-scale projects made a return. According to Chief Financial Officer Dr Luc Schultheiss, Endress+Hauser’s performance “exceeded the industry average.”

The firm made excellent progress in Europe. Business was dynamic even in Africa and the Middle East as well as in the Asia-Pacific region. The strongest growth was seen in the Americas, however. “After 65 years, the US replaced Germany as our largest sales market,” reported Matthias Altendorf. China also grew at a double-digit pace. “If this trend continues, China could soon take over the top spot,” added the CEO.

Profits rise sharply

Foreign exchange rate fluctuations not only slowed down sales growth, but also stifled cost structures, despite notable cost increases on the materials side. Operating profit (EBIT) increased by 31.4 percent to 330.6 million euros. Even though no one-off income was recognized in 2018, in contrast to the prior year, profit before taxes (EBT) still rose by 14.6 percent to 315.7 million euros. Return on sales (ROS) climbed 0.6 points to 12.9 percent.

Net income rose by 11.2 percent to 232.5 million euros, which reflects an effective tax rate of 26.4 percent which increased over the prior year due to a change in the composition of the profit. The equity ratio reached 71 percent, an increase of 0.8 points. The Group has no considerable bank liabilities.

Innovations for the digital age

Endress+Hauser’s growth was fueled by a wealth of innovations. The company brought 54 new products to the market last year. Research and development expenses climbed to 184.2 million euros, representing 7.5 percent of sales. The company filed 287 initial patents in 2018. At the end of the year, Endress+Hauser held nearly 7,800 patents and other intellectual property rights.

About one-third of the new patents were related to the IIoT, digital communications, diagnostics and electronics. “Digitalization is penetrating all areas,” emphasized Matthias Altendorf. Apart from 1,000 developers active in the Group’s centers of competence, various start-ups established by the Group are also busy working on products, solutions and services for the digital age. Endress+Hauser is furthermore collaborating closely with industry partners such as software specialist SAP.

A further driver of growth was process analysis. “The optical analyzer business performed extremely well,” said Matthias Altendorf. Endress+Hauser established a European support center for advanced analyzers in Lyon, France. The network of sales specialists in this area is growing in Europe. The CEO is hoping for additional impulses to spur this business area.

Hundreds of new jobs

The positive development was reflected in the creation of numerous jobs. At the end of 2018, Endress+Hauser had a global workforce of 13,928, an increase of 629 over the prior year. Hiring was especially strong in production and production-related areas, as well as in the service units. The company created 200 new jobs in the Basel region alone.

The company invested nearly 750 million euros within a five-year period, “all of which the company financed through its own funds,” as CFO Luc Schultheiss pointed out. In 2018, 158.6 million euros flowed into buildings, machinery and IT. The two largest projects involve the expansion of the plants in Reinach, Switzerland and Maulburg, Germany. The Group is also undertaking a large project in the US that will bundle the Gulf region sales, service and support organizations in Houston, Texas.

Top sustainability ranking

“As a family-owned company, sustainable development is important to us,” emphasized Matthias Altendorf. One of the strategic indicators is the annual EcoVadis benchmark, which assesses companies with respect to sustainability. In 2018 Endress+Hauser continued to improve, scoring 68 out of a possible 100 points to place in the top 5 percent of its comparison group. Endress+Hauser plans to use the EcoVadis platform to eventually evaluate its own suppliers.

“We feel it’s important for the future of Endress-Hauser to continue to have members of the shareholder family work at the company,” emphasized Klaus Endress, President of the Supervisory Board. “This strengthens the bonds between the family and the company.” A decision was thus made to allow members of the family to work at all levels within the company. The Family Charter provides clear guidelines; candidates who choose this path will receive close support from the Family Council.

Continued solid growth

Endress+Hauser got off to a good start in 2019. Incoming orders and net sales for the Group are tracking well above prior year levels. The company nonetheless expects this trend to cool off in the second half of the year. “We are still anticipating solid growth in the mid-single-digit range,” said Luc Schultheiss. According to the CFO, the company plans to invest 260 million euros this year, and assuming the business continues to perform well, 500 new jobs will be created worldwide.

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Twin screw pump
Cooperation between Gea and Itt Bornemann

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The new GEA Hilge NOVATWIN pumps are particularly suitable for gentle pumping of chunky, shear-sensitive media of various viscosities. (Picture: Magone via Getty Images)
The new GEA Hilge NOVATWIN pumps are particularly suitable for gentle pumping of chunky, shear-sensitive media of various viscosities. (Picture: Magone via Getty Images)

The pump experts from Gea and Itt Bornemann are now working together to manufacture and market a twin screw pump for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. While Gea has so far concentrated primarily on hygienic centrifugal pumps, the cooperation now means that a joint model of a positive displacement pump is ready for introduction: Gea Hilge Novatwin. The Gea Hilge Novatwin is a flexible twin screw pump based on the proven Bornemann design that meets the highest hygienic requirements for gentle product handling and clean-in-place (CIP) with just one pump. The new Gea Hilge Novatwin will be available in 6 sizes and will be part of the Gea Varipump line, which stands for pumps with a high degree of flexibility for optimum adaptation to individual customer requirements.

Consistent expansion of hygienic pump portfolio

The addition of this future-oriented pump type to the portfolio in addition to the established rotary lobe pump Gea Hilge Novalobe will significantly strengthen Gea’s position in the field of positive displacement pumps. Gea will thus be in an even better position to cover the various customer requirements with the ideal pump solution from its own broad product portfolio.

Pump and clean with one pump

Twin screw pumps are equipped with two screws, which intermesh without contact and together with the pump housing form a closed chamber. The screws rotate and thus move the medium along the screw axis from the suction to the discharge side.

Like positive displacement pumps in general, twin screw pumps stand for the gentle conveyance of chunky, shear-sensitive and abrasive media. They offer exceptionally high flexibility for pumping liquids of various viscosities.

“The special feature of the twin screw pump is its dual function, because twin screw pumps can not only pump the actual product but can also function as a CIP pump at the same time, as they can operate at very high speeds. This saves the use of an additional CIP pump compared to alternative solutions,” explains Product Manager Ulla Främke from Gea.

With Gea and Bornemann two strong partners work together

“This cooperation with Bornemann is a real win-win situation for both partners,” says Bastian Tolle, head of product management at the Gea Flow Components business unit. “The twin screw pumps we see in the market today are mostly derived from Bornemann’s original development. The expertise is impressive, we can learn a lot from such a partner and from the experience gained over decades in the application of this special positive displacement pump”.

“We will benefit from Gea’s strong distribution network”, adds Bornemann’s Managing Director Markus

Schwarte. “Gea has a broad customer base, a large network and an excellent reputation among decision-makers, particularly in the food sector and in local markets such as the USA. We want to benefit from the synergy between the leading technology and the first-class global network in the food industry”.

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Fichter Maschinen rely on Viscotec
Clean potting is the key – manual and serial

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Clean potting is the key - manual and serial Viscotec
Picture: Viscotec

Performance is not always the only focus in production – it is not uncommon for more flexibility to be added. The machine manufacturer Fichter Maschinen, for example, was looking for a one component and two component dosing solution for a newly developed application with which, for example, potting compounds can be dispensed both manually and automatically.

Such machines are used for the potting of electronic components, for example, which are assembled from a large number of small components and then potted or encapsulated to protect them against external influences. The solution designed by Fichter Maschinen is particularly interesting for companies that want to pot more flexibly, but not necessarily faster, as Martin Baumann from Fichter Maschinen points out.

As the engineer explains, this occurs, for example, with manufacturers with the need to be able to switch between serial and manual operation for prototype production on a system. A Viscotec Visco-Duo-VM mixing system and a so-called manual manipulator are central to the system, now built by Fichter Maschinen. The ViscoTec potting head, which is fitted on this manipulator, precisely dispenses and mixes the two components of a standard two component casting compound. In addition, buffer tanks and a material degassing system for both components can be installed in order to achieve an optional degassing compound for bubble-free potting. Further accessories, such as air-drying units or inert gas loading and, if necessary, a circulation line for returning the material to the stirring vessel to avoid sedimentation of the fillers in the system, are also available.

Manual work does not have to be exhausting

The force of the weight on the manipulator is balanced by a rope pull balancer – so that an operator can position the mixing system in any axis with minimal effort and pot the desired electronic components. The automated version uses a collaborating 6-axis robot and a pallet storage system. In a first process step, the robot retrieves a pallet from the storage. In the second process step, the robot picks up the ViscoTec potting head and then moves along the grid until the pre-programmed number of components to be potted has been processed. Once this is completed, the robot pushes the processed pallet back into the storage and then retrieves the next pallet from the storage and the process restarts.

When asked about his decision to opt for a Viscotec dispensing and mixing system, Baumann looks back on his 15 years of experience in the field of encapsulation and bonding. He first came into contact with ViscoTec during the course of his research. He was impressed by the principle of the progressive cavity pump for technical implementation in dispensing and potting applications. Viscotec’s technology offers a further advantage in addition to clean material breakage: The compact design of the mixing system allows it to be attached directly to the potting head – in such systems, this saves a lot of valves and pipes and therefore makes automation much easier. The volumetric dispensing systems are pulsation-free and repeatable. The adjustable suck-back ensures that the material is broken off – dripping or even accumulation of product can be avoided reliably. The Viscotec mixing system has been specially designed to meet the requirements of Fichter Maschinen. In addition to various casting compounds (polyurethanes, silicones, epoxies), it can also be used for moisture-sensitive or light-sensitive materials that can be cured with additional UV lamps. Viscotec is also known for its ability to process different viscosities with widely spread mixing ratios and underlines the flexibility demanded by Fichter Maschinen.

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Siemens and Pixeom
Acquisition of Edge technology

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Siemens plans the acquisition of Edge technology from Pixeom
Picture: Siemens

Siemens is planning the acquisition of Edge technology from the US company Pixeom. With this action, Siemens is strengthening its Industrial Edge portfolio by adding software components for Edge runtime and for device management. Siemens Industrial Edge provides an ecosystem, which enables the flexible provision and use of apps. This means for example that appropriate apps can analyze data locally at the machine and send relevant data to the higher-level Industrial Edge Management System for global analytics. With this acquisition, Siemens is driving forward the expansion of its Digital Enterprise portfolio and the integration of cutting-edge technologies for the digital transformation of industry.

With the resulting Industrial Edge ecosystem, industrial companies can use production data even more efficiently and react more flexibly to changes in conditions. Ralf-Michael Franke, CEO of Business Unit Factory Automation, explains: “Cutting edge technologies such as Edge Computing open up new scope for automation. With Siemens Industrial Edge, we are creating an open edge ecosystem which offers benefits for companies of any size.” Siemens is using Docker standard container technology: the provision of apps in the management system will therefore be just as simple as functional upgrades and updates of Edge devices in the factory from a central point.

Siemens intends to acquire this technology from Pixeom and use it in the Business Unit Factory Automation, which is part of Siemens Digital Industries. Pixeom has sites in San José, California and Udaipur, India and employs 81 people worldwide. Closing of the transaction is planned for the fourth quarter of 2019. Both companies have agreed not to comment on the financial details of the transaction.

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