Beckhoff Automation can trace its history to 1953, the year that Arnold and Elisabeth Beckhoff (the parents of Hans Beckhoff) opened Elektro Beckhoff in Bornholte (which today is a part of Verl). The master electrician business and the associated retail store expanded very successfully over the years. By 1980, the company had grown to roughly 25 employees and become the largest electrical trade and retail business in Verl.
In 1980, the founder became severely ill and died the following year at the age of only 56. Elisabeth Beckhoff turned the business over to her four children Hans, Arno, Marlies and Michael, who were quite young (ranging from 16 to 26) but already active in the company. They ran the business jointly as Elektro Beckhoff GmbH, and during this time, the four siblings successfully developed their respective business interests.
Hans Beckhoff began to manufacture control cabinets and develop microprocessor-based industrial electronics as part of the parental business. He found his first customers among local manufacturing companies but quickly expanded into other geographical regions and specialized in control systems for window manufacturing and woodworking machines. From these humble beginnings arose the Beckhoff Automation Group with Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG as the central operating company. Today, more than 40 years later, the Beckhoff Automation Group employs 5,000 people in more than 40 companies worldwide and generated a turnover of €1.182 billion in 2021.
Arno Beckhoff expanded the electrical trade segment and today employs more than 940 electricians in 11 locations. The business, which operates under the traditional Elektro Beckhoff GmbH name to this day, installs electrical systems for industrial companies, residential buildings, hospitals, hotels, and public facilities. Whether a project involves building automation, data networking, solar panels, fire alarm systems, or switchgear stations – Elektro Beckhoff stands ready to provide the appropriate solution as one of the largest providers in its field in Germany today.
Marlies Hillen (née Beckhoff) and Michael Beckhoff continued to expand the electrical retail business. Today, their Beckhoff Technik und Design GmbH with its roughly 75 employees offers at its two locations in Verl and Bielefeld everything that the company name stands for: technology that excites and is useful, and design that surprises and is attractive. Besides consumer goods, the company offers with its departments for professional lighting design and media engineering deep-reaching expertise for residential, industrial, and functional building applications. Beckhoff Technik und Design is one of the largest family-managed electrical retail businesses in Germany today.
By 2005 each of the three business segments had become so large that the four siblings decided to split them into individual, legally separate enterprises. To maintain the family relationship, however, each branch of the family continues to hold a minority interest in the other sister companies. And since the Beckhoff siblings and their offspring place great value in maintaining their family ties, all three Beckhoff companies consider themselves to be members of the Beckhoff Family Group.
Beckhoff Automation Group
The Beckhoff Automation Group comprises all Beckhoff Automation companies. These include:
- Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG (Verl, 100%): Central operating company of the Beckhoff Automation Group
- Beckhoff Automation, international sales and distribution companies (international, 100%): Active in 39 countries outside of Germany
- Smyczek GmbH (Verl, 100%): Electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider for Beckhoff products and external customers
- Fertig Motors GmbH (Marktheidenfeld, 90%): Production of motors for Beckhoff and external customers
- Schirmer Maschinen GmbH (Verl, 100%): Leading Beckhoff customer since 1980
- ADL Embedded Solutions GmbH (Siegen, 100%): Sales of Embedded PC applications
- f&t Software GmbH (Paderborn, 100%): ERP services for Beckhoff and external customers
Annual sales published for Beckhoff comprise the consolidated annual sales of the Beckhoff Automation Group.
Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG
Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co KG is the central operating company of the Beckhoff Automation Group. Almost all Beckhoff products worldwide are developed, manufactured and delivered to the customer by Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co KG. Based on the extremely powerful PC-based control technology, Beckhoff offers extensive product ranges in the areas of IPC, I/O, motor and drive, control software, control cabinet-free automation, and hardware for machine vision. The company sees itself as one of the technological market leaders in the field of software-based automation in particular, offering a broad, comprehensive range of application technologies that range from industrial communication, PLC, and motion through to image processing and artificial intelligence.
The core company of the Beckhoff Automation Group has over 2,600 employees, including more than 600 developers and product managers who work on new products and concepts. Building on this foundation of knowledge and experience, Beckhoff has been able to successfully introduce important revolutionary concepts in automation technology over the course of the company's 41-year history, in addition to many evolutionary advances. Examples include:
- PC-Control: PC-based control technology
- : Industrial I/O components in terminal block format
- : Simple, ultra-fast, and time-deterministic Ethernet-based industrial communication
- : Safe communication in unsafe environments
- : IPCs and displays in aluminum housings milled from a solid block
- : One Cable Technology that integrates power and feedback in a single motor cable
- : eXtended Transportation System – a highly dynamic linear multi-mover drive system
- : Floating, contactless multi-mover 2D drive system
- : control cabinet-free automation
- : Hardware for machine vision
Beckhoff Automation stands for technology and responsibility. The company advances automation technology for the benefit of its customers as well as society in general. The basis for this lies in Beckhoff’s trustful and long-term cooperative relationships with its customers. The company operates based on the philosophy that it can achieve progress in technology only by working closely with its customers.
Smyczek GmbH was founded in 1985 by Roland and Beate Smyczek as an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider. Beckhoff has been a Smyczek customer since 1990. In 2009, Smyczek became a wholly owned member of the Beckhoff Automation Group.
The company handles the entire primary production, i.e., the assembly of printed circuit boards, for Beckhoff. Modern machines on 21,000 square meters of floorspace with 27 SMD production lines and various THT lines, extensive inspection facilities and more than 585 employees enable Smyczek to churn out high-quality products with exceptional efficiency. To further raise its level of quality and productivity, the company invests systematically in new and improved equipment on an annual basis.
And the deep integration of Smyczek into the Beckhoff value chain ensures the best possible coordination between production and development as well as a high degree of flexibility to meet all customer requirements.
In addition to Beckhoff, Smyczek counts many long-standing external industrial companies among its customers. The company even also offers device assembly and inspection services to this segment.
With Smyczek, Beckhoff has its primary manufacturing operations in-house and can offer its customers the highest quality standards.
Fertig Motors GmbH
Fertig Motors GmbH in Marktheidenfeld in the German region of Lower Franconia was founded in 2010 as a joint venture of Beckhoff Automation (90%) and Erwin Fertig (10%). With currently 169 employees, Fertig Motors specializes in the development and production of electromagnetic drives such as rotary servomotors, linear motors, tubular motors, electric actuators, and customer-specific drive systems. Almost all Beckhoff motors are manufactured by Fertig Motors. The company bears the name of Erwin Fertig, a well-known entrepreneur and engineer in the field of automation and drive technology.
Erwin Fertig and Hans Beckhoff founded the company jointly in order to develop industry-leading drive technology. Both entrepreneurs and their companies are driven by their focus on innovation and top technical performance, quality, and cost efficiency.
The close coupling of the Beckhoff development in the field of software-based control technology and here in particular motion algorithms with the Fertig Motors know-how in magnetic field physics allows the optimization of standard drive principles and the invention of new drive principles with great customer benefit.
Fertig Motors develops and manufactures for Beckhoff Automation and outside customers. Thanks to Fertig Motors, top-level drive technology travels from the “Motor Valley” of Lower Franconia to users all over the world.
Schirmer Maschinen GmbH
Schirmer Maschinen GmbH has been a member of the Beckhoff Automation Group since 2016. With more than 227 employees, the company develops and manufactures machining centers for plastic and aluminum profiles at a facility in Verl. The machines and systems are designed for highly automated, complete profile processing (sawing, drilling, milling, screwing, marking, transport, packaging, etc.). They also make it possible to manufacture single pieces in optimized batches. With its complex systems, Schirmer is considered a global market leader in the field of window and profile processing machines.
Schirmer and Beckhoff Automation are closely linked via their shared 41-year history. Schirmer Maschinenbau was founded in 1979 by Thorsten Schirmer in Sennestadt while Hans Beckhoff started Beckhoff Automation less than one year later in early 1980.
The two young startup entrepreneurs got to know each other by chance and decided to work together. In the spring of 1981, Beckhoff delivered the first machine controller to Schirmer and has functioned as the company’s outsourced electronics software department ever since. The resulting close cooperation between their mechanical engineering and control technology activities has been the basis of both companies’ success.
Through its cooperation with Schirmer, Beckhoff Automation was able to implement complex control requirements at an early stage. Examples include multi-axis machines, integration of CNC and standard axis functions, high number of I/O components, fast response times, part tracking, single-piece production with dynamic tool adjustments, data coupling to IT, etc. Features like these became the basis of the general Beckhoff control technology and could be transferred to many other industries. Schirmer was also Beckhoff’s largest customer in the first decade of its existence.
In 2016, Beckhoff had the opportunity to acquire Schirmer Maschinenbau. The relationship between the two entities has become even closer as a result. Beckhoff views Schirmer as its lead customer within the Group with whom new automation technologies can be implemented and tested in close cooperation.
Schirmer Maschinenbau and Beckhoff Automation – a 41-year story of success!
ADL Embedded Solutions GmbH
After being founded in 2010, ADL Embedded Solutions GmbH became a wholly owned subsidiary of Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG in 2019. Headquartered in Siegen, Germany, the company specializes in flexible, robust, and reliable embedded computer systems. ADL engineers analyze specific application requirements with each customer and develop appropriate solutions together.
Almost all ADL projects are based on products that were developed and manufactured by Beckhoff. The close relationship between ADL and Beckhoff’s development and production departments makes it possible to come up with the best possible solution for each embedded computing application.
f&t Software GmbH
f&t Software GmbH was founded in 1991 and has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG since 2019. Headquartered in Paderborn, Germany, the company is a specialist for merchandise management systems. As the underlying foundation of many custom-tailored applications, f&t Software developed the MANAGER SQL software, which provides a lean toolbox for easily adaptable application cases. Beckhoff Automation has used MANAGER SQL for almost 20 years to manage and control its entire production. The powerful software also ensures trouble-free operations in many other industrial enterprises. In addition, f&t Software has offered for many years management services for the computer systems of small and medium-sized companies.
Elektro Beckhoff GmbH
Elektro Beckhoff is managed by Arno Beckhoff and his son Stefan Beckhoff in the second and third generation, respectively. The company implements electrical systems for manufacturing companies, housing, hospitals, hotels, and public facilities. From building automation to data networking, photovoltaics, fire alarm systems, and switchgear construction, Elektro Beckhoff offers complete solutions from a single source. With 12 locations and more than 940 employees, Elektro Beckhoff is one of the largest family-run building technology and electrical installation companies in Germany.
Beckhoff Technik und Design GmbH
Headed by Marlies Hillen and Michael Beckhoff, specialty retailer Beckhoff Technik und Design GmbH sells high-quality TV, audio and home cinema technology, lamps, home accessories, and household appliances. In addition, Beckhoff Technik und Design offers comprehensive know-how, consulting, installation, and other services in the areas of home control, lighting planning, as well as sound systems and media technology. With about 75 employees at its two locations in Verl and Bielefeld, the company offers its customers individual solutions and concepts that intelligently combine technology and design.