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Industry Automation, Instrumentation, Control Systems - Business News - Europe

Endress+Hauser increases net sales in 2014 by 11.0 percent to 2.013 billion euros

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Endress+Hauser has stood its ground in the market in an uncertain economic environment. The Swiss Group increased net sales in 2014 by 11.0 percent to 2.013 billion euros and achieved a net income of 192 million euros. The company invested over 126 million euros worldwide and employed 12,435 staff by the end of the year. However, prospects for 2015 are clouded by economic risks and currency movements.

In his first year as CEO of the Endress+Hauser Group, Matthias Altendorf presented good figures – “despite all the unpredictable external influences that hadn’t been considered in our budgets,” as he stressed. Endress+Hauser has doubled turnover within eight years. “For the first time in our history, over half of our net sales were generated outside Europe.”

Broad-based growth in sales:

Above all, business was good on the American continent, reported COO Michael Ziesemer, as seen in the US. Germany, the country with the highest sales volume, also improved significantly – as did Europe in general. Development in Asia was inconsistent. Growth slowed in China, whilst in Southeast Asia sales grew dynamically. In Africa and the Middle East, political instability in individual countries was noticeable.

Increased employment, higher capital expenditure:

At the end of 2014 Endress+Hauser employed 12,435 people worldwide – 516 more than the year before. The company invested 126 million euros and increased the production of flow measurement technology in Reinach, Switzerland, amongst others. 259 initial applications at patent offices around the world give evidence of the Group’s innovative powers.

Profitable and financially strong:

Operating profit (EBIT) decreased by 3.2 percent to 268 million euros. Thanks to the effects of favorable exchange rates and rewarding financial investments, the financial results were positive. As a result, profit before taxes (EBT) increased by 1.7 percent to 274 million euros. A slightly decreasing tax rate of 30.2 percent raised the net income by 2.3 percent to 192 million euros. CFO Dr Luc Schultheiss emphasized the Group’s robust financing. Equity ratio grew by 0.5 points to 68.3 percent.

Current year clouded by strength of Swiss franc:

The influence of foreign exchange rates was small in 2014. The consequences of the abolition of the minimum euro exchange rate by the Swiss National Bank in the current year are far harder to predict. “The Endress+Hauser Group as a whole can cope with the strengthening of the franc,” emphasized Luc Schultheiss. A large part of the added value is independent of the Swiss currency. However, the CFO anticipates lower profits due to the pressure on the Swiss companies in the Group.

Investments in more sustainability:

For the first time, Endress+Hauser presented a sustainability report together with the annual report. The report is intended to make developments visible and measurable. For example, cogeneration plants reduced carbon dioxide emissions at production sites in Maulburg and Gerlingen, Germany. A new plant to treat the surface of metal parts that uses metal beads instead of glass beads has significantly reduced the amount of special waste in Reinach, Switzerland.

Beckhoff Automation surpasses 500 million euro mark with 17 % increase in turnover

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Beckhoff Automation turned in a very successful performance in the 2014 financial year, generating global turnover of 510 million euros, an increase of 17 % year over year. The company’s increased sales stem from a growing global market and new project and customer wins for the PC-based control technology from Beckhoff. In keeping with the growth in turnover, the number of employees increased by 12 % to 2,800. Beckhoff has an optimistic outlook for the current financial year and expects another double-digit increase in sales.

Managing Director Hans Beckhoff is satisfied: “We can look back on a successful financial year. We are especially happy that this growth pattern extended to all regions and market segments. All continents contributed with new applications in areas ranging from industrial engineering and energy generation to building automation and the entertainment industry.”

Exports in 2014 accounted for 62 % of the company’s total turnover; of that, 29 % was generated in Europe (outside of Germany), 22 % in Asia, 10 % in North America, and 1 % in the remaining countries worldwide in which Beckhoff operates. “We’ve grown in all regions of the world, but especially in Asia and above all in China (+38 %). We are pleased to see healthy growth also in other regions – for example in southern Europe, with Spain (+10 %) and Italy (+19 %) delivering significant increases,” notes Hans Beckhoff.

PC control technology wins new projects worldwide:

“Beckhoff has achieved average growth of 16 % annually during the period from 2000 to 2014. This positive performance can be traced back to our leading-edge technology, which has helped build our strong reputation worldwide. Our high-performance technology platform of PC-based automation software, Industrial PCs, distributed I/O components and Drive Technology can be universally used in a multitude of applications,”

Hans Beckhoff explains, detailing the company’s rising market share in a wide variety of industries. “Our product innovations contribute similarly to our sustained growth. For example, we have won many new customers worldwide with the introduction of new product groups such as e.g. our state-of-the-art XTS drive system,” adds the Managing Director.

In terms of technology, Beckhoff customers are ideally positioned through the use of PC-based control. This is also true for the implementation of Industry 4.0 concepts. “Our ongoing research and development is a driver of advances in automation technology and that’s why we offer our customers a technological ‘head start’, due in large part to innovations such as the many-core control concept introduced with the C6670 many-core Industrial PC. With this high-end platform we can deliver what we believe are the most powerful control systems on the market today,” emphasises Hans Beckhoff. He continues: “With processor options reaching as high as 36 cores and 2,048 GB of RAM we offer our customers a level of performance today that will be the industry standard in 2020.”

“Technology is one aspect of our company. The other is our 35 years of experience in automation paired with a pronounced company culture of trust and stability. All these are the factors on which our sustained growth is based,” says Beckhoff.

Strengthening global sales channels:

Beckhoff Automation also continues to expand on a global scale. Following the establishment of a subsidiary company in the Czech Republic and representative offices in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Indonesia in 2014, Beckhoff is primarily investing in strengthening its existing sales network in 2015. “We are represented in over 70 countries worldwide with 34 subsidiary companies and distributors. Our focus this year will be on enhancing the density of our existing sales network. This includes adding more regional branch offices throughout all countries. We are particularly pleased to establish a larger office in Silicon Valley this year. Not only is German automation technology very much in demand in California, we also want to benefit from the spirit and the speed of technological development in this area,” says Beckhoff.

Training initiative for over 180 junior employees:

Beckhoff currently has approximately 2,800 employees worldwide; of these, almost 2,000 work in Germany, with about 1,800 at the company’s headquarters in Verl. Trained engineers account for almost one-third of the workforce. “We are again investing heavily in research and development in 2015, allocating funds of roughly 40 million euros,”

Hans Beckhoff announces. “As a technology-driven company whose success is based on supplying its customers with new ideas and technology, we have a very great demand for skilled engineers. We are always happy to add fresh new talent to our roster.”

 

Current Industry 4.0 projects, which are part of the “it’s OWL” Leading-Edge Cluster, also contribute to the company’s progress. “The Leading-Edge Cluster has developed very successfully. This East-Westphalia-based alliance between companies, universities, and scientific centres of competence was only founded in 2011, but is already highly regarded as a pioneer for Industry 4.0 in Germany and even in Europe,” Beckhoff points out.

Rotork strengthens presence in global marine & offshore markets with acquisition of Masso Ind

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Rotork has increased its range of flow control products and services for the worldwide marine and offshore industries with the acquisition of Masso Ind s.p.a., an established and respected manufacturer of innovative shipboard valve remote control systems (VRCS).

Designed for critical safety applications, Masso VRCS solutions encompass hydraulic and electro-hydraulic systems that are compatible with most integrated automation systems (IAS). The Masso product range also includes hydraulic quarter-turn and linear actuators, hydraulic power packs, solenoid cabinets and electro-hydraulic actuators for shipboard applications.

Based in Valduggia in northern Italy, Masso has over 80 years of marine industry experience encompassing chemical and cargo vessels, cruise ships, ferries, offshore support and navy vessels. The company’s products are supplied to world-leading shipbuilding groups such as Fincantieri and the Meyer Werft Group.

Masso will join the Rotork Fluid Systems division, where its products dovetail into existing ranges of fluid power flow control equipment serving the oil & gas, power generation, marine and manufacturing industries.

Commenting on the acquisition, Rotork Group Chief Executive Peter France said:

“The acquisition of Masso is in line with our strategy of strengthening our presence in the global flow control market and broadening the scope of the Group’s activities within the marine and offshore markets.”

ABB wins $155 million order to power large North Sea oilfield

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ABBABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has won an order worth $155 million from Norway’s Statoil to supply systems and equipment to two HVDC converter stations linking the recently discovered Johan Sverdrup offshore field with the onshore grid. The contract has been booked in the first quarter of 2015.

Oil production at Johan Sverdrup, located west of Stavanger on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), is expected to start in late 2019. Full production is estimated at 550,000-650,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, which would constitute 40% of total oil production on the NCS. The four platforms that make up the first phase of the development will be entirely powered from shore by the HVDC link supplied by ABB. The first phase of power-from-shore investments will prepare for the future development of the Johan Sverdrup field, as well as other fields located at Utsira High until 2022.

“We are very pleased to be continuing our successful relationship with Statoil by delivering a third HVDC power-from-shore link,” said the president of ABB’s Process Automation division, Peter Terwiesch. “Using onshore electricity to run these oil platforms will eliminate the need for local gas-turbine power generation, significantly lowering CO2 emissions as well as operating and maintenance costs. This order underlines ABB’s broad offering across the entire oil and gas value chain and reflects our focus on accelerating organic growth by increasing our customer focus.”

ABB will design, engineer, supply and commission the equipment for two ±80 kilovolt 100 MW high-voltage converter stations. One will be located onshore at Haugsneset, where it will turn alternating current (AC) from the grid into high-voltage direct current (DC), which can be transmitted efficiently over 200 km to the second station which is on one of the oil platforms. There, the DC current will be converted back into AC and distributed to the rest of the field.

ABB’s solution will utilize Voltage-Sourced Converter (VSC) technology, called “HVDC Light,” to provide flexible, long-distance transmission of electricity. This technology has enabled ABB to win all four HVDC power-from-shore systems that have so far been ordered in the North Sea: Statoil’s Troll A, compressor 1 and 2, delivered in 2005; BP’s Valhall field, delivered in 2011; Troll A 3 and 4, currently under delivery; and now Johan Sverdrup.

ABB pioneered HVDC transmission 60 years ago and has been awarded about 100 such projects. This adds up to a total installed capacity of more than 120 GW, or about half the global installed base of HVDC. In the 1990s, ABB further developed the technology by using voltage-sourced converters, a breakthrough which later became HVDC Light.

Jacobs wins Contract from BP in Belgium

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Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. has announced  that it received a contract from BP Chembel N.V. for basic and detailed engineering services to upgrade its facilities in Geel, Belgium. Under the terms of the contract, Jacobs is installing new equipment and performing upgrades in the facility’s PTA units. BP’s Geel site is a major producer of purified terephthalic acid and paraxylene, typically used in the manufacture of polyesters. The goal of this project is to optimize operational performance of the BP Geel facilities.

In making the announcement, Jacobs Group Vice President Mark Bello stated, “We have provided services to BP at its facility in Geel for a number of years and are delighted to further develop the relationship through this contract. We look forward to utilizing our extensive capabilities and expertise to support BP with its business objectives.”

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