Despite facing some real challenges along the way, the 2021 financial year was a success for Beckhoff Automation. For the first time in its almost 42-year history, the automation technology specialist based in Verl, Germany, exceeded the one billion euro mark in sales. With a total worldwide result of 1.182 billion euros, the company increased its sales by around 28% in comparison to 2020. “This is a great result that we are incredibly proud of,” reports a delighted Managing Owner Hans Beckhoff, whose company recorded an unprecedented level of incoming orders. “We could definitely have seen even more growth last year, but the shortage of components along with the limits on our own capacities has held us back in some areas,” Hans Beckhoff clarifies the tense situation in many areas of industry.
- sales exceed 1 billion euros for the first time
- company continues on dynamic growth course
- challenges posed by component shortages and the pandemic
- MX-System revolutionizes the automation industry
Very positive economic developments in Germany, Europe, and around the world
For the German market, Beckhoff achieved a sales increase of around 27%, while the number of incoming orders more than doubled. The company also recorded similar trends in many other countries where it sells its products. “With one or two exceptions, we made significant gains in 2021 in almost all countries with our own sales branches – often in the double-digit percentage range,” sums up the Managing Owner. He goes on to explain: “Our two largest subsidiaries (in China and the US), also reported double-digit growth.” Similar to Germany, incoming orders abroad were mostly significantly higher than actual sales growth.
Automation technology is currently experiencing a real boom across all industries all over the world; however, demand is exceeding the production capacities of suppliers, who have been weakened further still by the effects of the global pandemic. For Beckhoff, this is particularly evident in the shortage of semiconductors and other electronic components. “This bottleneck is likely to continue throughout 2022,” predicts Hans Beckhoff, adding, “nevertheless, we need to prepare for better raw material availability so that we can fulfill customer orders as quickly as possible. This is why we are working tirelessly to expand and optimize our entire company – from administration and development through to production.”
Corporate infrastructure expansions at the global headquarters in Verl
The rapid and dynamic growth of the technology company presents it with some major challenges. Production capacities have already been expanded and personnel resources increased. By the middle of the year, Beckhoff will have expanded its production capacities in Verl and the surrounding area by more than 50% in comparison with the beginning of 2020. “To this end, we are mobilizing the last space reserves we have and acquiring even more,” reports Hans Beckhoff. Beckhoff recently acquired a 15-hectare site in the immediate vicinity of existing properties in an inter-municipal industrial park now being planned by the cities of Verl and Rietberg. “We plan to create an industrial park here that will provide space for further expansion in the future for both Beckhoff Automation and our wholly owned subsidiaries Smyczek and Schirmer, which are also growing dynamically along with us,” he continues. At least an additional 1,000 jobs will be created here over the next ten years,” continues Hans Beckhoff.
Further expansion outside of Verl
At the same time as the expansions in Verl, Beckhoff is also expanding both nationally and internationally. The company already has its own subsidiaries in 40 countries, and this expanding support network for Beckhoff customers is showing no signs of slowing down. A new building is currently being constructed in Balingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany for the sales office located there. This is set to be entirely self-sufficient in terms of its energy needs and will be ready to move into at the beginning of 2023. In Marktheidenfeld in Lower Franconia, the drive technology production facility of the Fertig Motors subsidiary located there is being expanded.
The 2021 financial year also saw the automation technology specialist open an office in Kaunas, Lithuania, to serve the market in this part of the world. The subsidiary Beckhoff Austria is building a new headquarters in Bürs. At the same time, Beckhoff Sweden is building a new headquarters of its own, while the first production facility outside Germany is to be built near Shanghai in China. The main reason for this is to expand the Chinese market from within the country itself, since this is one of the strongest markets in terms of sales for Beckhoff Automation with a share of more than 22%.
High-tech equipment from East Westphalia enables future technologies all over the world
Beckhoff Automation is a pioneer in the area of PC-based control technology. Many automation technology standards that are taken for granted today were recognized at an early stage and successfully marketed as innovations by this family-owned business in East Westphalia.
More than 70% of Beckhoff controllers are used for automation in machine building, with the sheer power and intelligence of these serving to increase the performance of the machines while also reducing energy consumption and resource usage. Further fields of application can be found in process technology, building automation and alternative energy generation. The combination of IT technology through the industrial PCs and automation also enables optimized solutions in these areas for many Beckhoff customers.
In addition to their performance, the company’s control systems are characterized in particular by their flexibility and openness. Extensive software libraries for sequence and motion control, control and measurement technology, image processing, artificial intelligence, communications, Industrie 4.0, edge computing, and modular robust hardware are the foundations for applications in many major future industries around the world: in high-tech medical devices, in wind turbines for the sustainable conversion of wind into electrical energy, in machines for the production of semiconductors, in the manufacture of batteries and solar cells, and in electric motor production, to name just a few examples.
Against this backdrop, Beckhoff is also notably responsible for equipping the BMW Group’s worldwide automotive production with industrial PCs and multi-touch control panels. In doing so, Beckhoff offers the BMW Group the possibility of using the latest Intel® Core™-i processors in a wide variety of designs, and makes sure that even future processor generations will be easy to integrate on account of the shorter innovation cycles.
MX-System revolutionizes control cabinet design
Last year, Beckhoff launched numerous new and further developments in its existing product families of industrial PCs, I/O, drive technology and automation software. With the introduction of its MX-System, the company presented the automation world with a game-changing revolution and expanded its portfolio to include a completely new product category. “The MX-System is a modular automation toolkit. All functions that were previously housed in the control cabinet can now be easily mounted on a baseplate using appropriate modules. The robust design of the system facilitates direct mounting on the machine, so an additional protective housing is no longer necessary. The easy-to-use system represents a revolution in machine electrification and will change the face of automation forever!” explains Hans Beckhoff.
He goes on to say, “Our MX-System is a perfect fit in terms of machine building, but the system should also offer users significant benefits when it comes to process technology, measurement technology, and much more besides. Wherever electrical energy and intelligence are involved, the MX-System will offer real advantages!” In addition to the space saved, the design, engineering, and installation of the control are also simplified: “For example, a control cabinet assembly that previously took 24 hours can be reduced to around one hour of simple module assembly,” reports the graduate physicist, who in fact started his company in the early 1980s with the construction of control cabinets as its core business.
XTS transport system with innovative No Cable Technology (NCT)
Beckhoff has expanded its XTS linear transport system with a new type of technology for contactless energy and data transmission for movers. The contactless power supply and synchronous real-time data communication enable the individual movers to be expanded into mobile handling and processing stations, representing a quantum leap in terms of machine flexibility. The XTS modular system has been expanded for NCT to include a special motor module and electronics that can be mounted on the mover. The hardware required for the transmission technology is fully integrated into the motor module, which means that the existing functionalities and compact design are retained. No additional connections or supply lines are required. The control of the hardware on the mover is fully implemented in TwinCAT. All known TwinCAT functionalities are available for simple project implementation.
AA3000 electric cylinder: Servomotor alternative for energy-intensive pneumatic cylinders
The AA3000 series electric cylinders combine power and dynamics with the advantages of servo technology, including such features as controlled positioning, safe stopping at standstill and high energy efficiency. This makes them ideal as direct drives for linear applications with high process forces and speeds. The integrated mechanism of precision roller bearings, ball screw, and guide not only ensures backlash-free, purely translatory movement in the AA3000 electric cylinders, but also makes for very compact dimensions. The shaft end of the spindle has an external thread on which commercially available adapters from the pneumatic and hydraulic range, such as ball heads or clamping hooks, can be mounted.
ELM3002-0205 for high-voltage measurements on car batteries, generators, and motors
The ELM3002-0205 EtherCAT measurement terminal ensures highly accurate and reliable measurements up to 1,000 V in the areas of electromobility and renewable energies. In doing so, it is also capable of supporting an increase in wind turbine efficiency via direct inverter control, to name just one example. The basic requirement for this is a voltage measurement in the 1,000 V range directly at the generator. The electromobility segment is making similar demands, for example, in the rapidly increasing global large-scale production of high-quality car batteries and accumulators. The 2-channel measurement terminal achieves a maximum sampling rate of 50 kSps per channel with the oversampling function. This high sampling rate for high-voltage applications enables even deeper insights into the respective energy application. As a result, a faster response time can be achieved at the generator and, due to the high measurement accuracy, a more precise frequency measurement can also be realized, which in turn leads to improved frequency stabilization in the power grid. In the application field of battery testing, reliable load and quality tests can be performed thanks to the high sampling rate.
Continued systematic growth in number of employees
In the past financial year, Beckhoff hired more than 500 new employees worldwide. This means that, as of March 2022, the family company now employs 5,000 employees (previous year 4,500): 3,400 of them in Verl and the surrounding area, 3,850 in Germany as a whole and 1,450 abroad. “Having the expertise we need in-house is a major success factor for us. Beckhoff manufactures sophisticated high-tech products that are developed by a wide array of the brightest minds working together within our company,” notes Hans Beckhoff, explaining the comparatively high total of 1,900 engineers currently numbered among his employees. He goes on to add: “At Beckhoff, we say: Engineers must save the world! It is our task to develop products and automate production processes in such a way that they consume fewer raw materials and less energy than in the past. Every year, effectiveness and productivity must be increased to meet the worldwide desire for more prosperity in an ecologically sustainable way.”
Beckhoff has been training young people in eight different industrial and commercial professions since the 1980s, which means that it is well-positioned to count on a valuable pool of skilled workers in the future. Since 2010, the high-tech manufacturer has also been focusing on academic training in the form of work-integrated study programs in cooperation with the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences at its Gütersloh campus in Germany.
Hans Beckhoff, founder and managing owner of Beckhoff Automation
The sales curve at Beckhoff Automation continues to rise exponentially, with the Verl-based automation technology specialist recording an average annual growth of 15% since 2000.
High-tech development: Beckhoff is revolutionizing the automation industry with its innovative MX-System. The modular system enables control cabinet-free automation of machines and systems, saving not only space, but also a significant amount of time in the design, engineering, and construction of control systems.
Quantum leap: NCT enables contactless energy and data transmission for the movers of the XTS linear transport system.
The AA3000 series electric cylinders combine power and dynamics with the advantages of servo technology, making them ideal for the direct drive of linear applications with high process forces and speeds.
The ELM3002-0205 EtherCAT measurement terminal ensures highly accurate and reliable measurements up to 1,000 V in the areas of electromobility and renewable energies, such as for car batteries, generators and motors.
Trade Press, Magazine PC Control
Mr. Stefan Ziegler
Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG
Trade Press and Business Press
Ms. Vera K. Schnatmeyer
Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG