The Verl, Germany-based Beckhoff Automation achieved a growth in turnover of 7 % in 2013 with an annual result of 435 million euros. “2013 was a good year for us as we recorded growth above that of the market,” says the satisfied Managing Director, Hans Beckhoff. “Following rapid growth in turnover totalling nearly 100 % in a two year period from 2010 and 2011 and a downturn of 12 % in 2012, we have now returned to a solid growth course of 7 %. The signs look encouraging for the future and we think that we can grow more dynamically again in the coming years. We are aiming for double digit growth in 2014.”
Beckhoff is represented in over 60 countries with 33 subsidiary companies and distributors. The export share was about 58 % of the company’s total turnover; of that, 28 % was generated in Europe (excluding Germany), 19 % in Asia, 10 % in North America and 1 % in the remaining countries worldwide in which Beckhoff operates. “We have continued our growth worldwide. The Asian market and China in particular have excelled, but so too has the North American market. In addition, southern Europe has made a considerable contribution towards the growth in turnover, rebounding from weak growth in recent years,” says Hans Beckhoff. A clear upswing is becoming apparent in the wind energy industry, which has strongly influenced Beckhoff turnover in recent years.
National and international expansion of the sales network
Beckhoff has continued the expansion of its international sales network in 2013 and has opened nine additional regional branch offices worldwide. In the U.S., a new headquarters office was established in Savage, Minnesota with an investment of $8 million USD, which followed consistent growth of the subsidiary company and is enabling further expansion of the business. The nationwide sales network was expanded to six regional offices with the inauguration of a new regional sales office in Chicago. In China, Beckhoff is represented by 14 local branch offices in addition to the head office in Shanghai.
As far as international development is concerned, Beckhoff is continuing its expansion course unabated in 2014 and is investing in the construction of further subsidiary head offices as the foundation for further growth: Finland, for instance, is getting a new headquarters at a cost of 3 million euros. Business Development Managers have been in operation in Cairo, Egypt and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia since February, developing the local markets there. With the opening of a Czech subsidiary company in Brno in March 2014, Beckhoff has set a further milestone on the way to penetrating the Eastern European automation market and offering optimum support to customers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Plans for 2014 also include the establishment of representative offices in Indonesia and Mexico as well as the installation of distributors in Peru and Ecuador in order to strengthen the company’s presence both in Southeast Asia as well as in North and South America.
The German sales network, with 11 branch offices currently, will also be gradually expanded via the opening of regional sales offices: for instance, customer service in southwest Germany will grow with the addition of a new sales office in Crailsheim. German customers in the northwest of Baden-Württemberg will also get optimum support from the new Pforzheim office which opened on 1 April 2014.
Expansion of production capabilities
There will also be great expansion at the company’s head office in Verl: an additional 6,000 square metres of production and administration space will be put into operation in 2014. The production site for drive technology in Marktheidenfeld, Germany was expanded in 2013 by the purchase of a new building, so that 2,000 m² are now available there for the development and production of advanced motors.
Technological leadership a primary factor in success
The basis for the success and growth of Beckhoff, apart from the expansion of the global sales network, is the continuous development of new technologies and solutions on the basis of PC-based control. “Against the background of discussions regarding Industry 4.0 in Europe and the ‘Internet of Things’ in North America, PC-based control technology from Beckhoff proves to be the ideal automation platform to implement these forward-looking visions. The convergence of IT and automation technology has always been the basis of our control philosophy, so that we – and our customers – are technologically prepared in the best way possible. We feel this all over the world and we are winning many new projects as a result,” says managing director, Hans Beckhoff. New operating concepts, for example, via ‘Google Glass’ or the idea of ‘social automation’ on the basis of ‘social media,’ are becoming constituents of automation. “PC control offers the basis for making machine interfaces available to Cloud-based services,” says Hans Beckhoff. “For example, the machine supplies measured values to the Cloud, which are analysed by higher-level services.”
Industry 4.0 concepts are also being developed further in the field of research. In the technology network, it’s OWL (Intelligent Technical Systems OstWestfalenLippe), which was distinguished by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in 2012 as a “Leading-Edge Cluster,” Beckhoff, as consortium leader in the key project ‘ScAut,’ is researching the integration of engineering findings from the most diverse technical disciplines into automation technology in order to increase the intelligence of technical systems.
Training programme for over 160 junior employees
Beckhoff currently employs 2,510 people worldwide; of these, 1,815 work in Germany and 1,645 at the company’s head office in Verl. Of this total, 800 employees are engineers, which is more than 30 %. “We are heavily investing in research and development once again in 2014 with a sum of 32 million euros,” stresses Hans Beckhoff. “As a technology-driven company whose success is based on developing innovative solutions and bringing them to the market at an early stage, we have a very high requirement for skilled engineers.”
The company has always been highly dedicated to developing young talent: at present, 94 young people are undergoing apprenticeships in a total of seven occupations. Beckhoff has also been supporting practice-integrated engineer training in the fields of mechatronics/automation and industrial engineering for three and a half years now. Of the 90 students, 21 from the first intake obtained their bachelor’s degrees in February. All graduates have been hired by the company and are working in various divisions.