Phoenix Contact – Key partner on the road to a smarter world
Ulrich Leidecker, President of the Business Area Industry Management and Automation, spoke at a press conference held at the SPS IPC Drives specialist automation trade fair in Nuremburg (November 27-29, 2018) about the positive development of the business situation, with sales for 2018 forecast to be more than € 2.3 billion by the end of the year.
Globally, the growth rates are good across all markets, even though there were negative currency effects in a large part of these markets. The Chinese market has continued to recover and, as in 2017, we are again experiencing double-digit growth. In the US, growth is slightly better at over 15 percent, but still slightly below the growth results of Europe, where – not including Germany – we have achieved 16 percent. With an almost 30 percent share of global sales, Germany is still the most important market for Phoenix Contact. A very good result is expected again for this market – this year with a growth of 7 to 8 percent. In total, the global growth is around 12 percent. Converted into euros, the nominal growth will be well above 8 percent.
The in-part turbulent market development – growth exceeded 20 percent in certain significant areas – has led to considerable challenges in the supply chain and in cost increases. We met this increasing development of sales by investing in all company divisions. We have therefore increased capacities significantly again this year: In Nanjing, China, the headquarters of our Chinese subsidiary, significant extensions across a total of 23,000 m² are being created in the areas of production and logistics. The facility will be built completely in accordance with the Industrie 4.0 standard. For the first time, large parts of the machine park and in particular the new logistics area will be completely automated with the PLCnext Technology controller solution. The total volume of investment in China in 2018 amounts to approximately € 30 million. The rapidly increasing demand in India requires a significant expansion of local production, the capacity of which has been practically doubled with the 2018 extensions. The total investment here amounts to approximately € 10 million.
Another focal point of the investments is the continuous expansion of the machine and plant park, which supports the opportunities of digitalization in our own company and translates the idea of “Industrie 4.0” into practical applications. From collaborative robots through to driverless transport systems, the latest technologies that support the consistency of digital value added chains and that increase efficiency in production are being used. The total sum of investments in 2018 will therefore amount to more than € 200 million.
As in previous years, our outlay for research and development is approximately seven percent of global sales. The total number of employees will have increased by approximately 1,400 to almost 17,500 in 2018. Without including acquisitions, the number of personnel in Germany will have increased by more than 500 employees.
Leidecker made a special point of mentioning that the largest acquisition in the history of the company so far would be completed on 2018-12-31. We have acquired the two companies SKS Kontakttechnik and Pulsotronic from the SKS Gruppe, a group of companies with whom we have been working in close cooperation for many years. The two companies will bring further technological and manufacturing expertise to the Phoenix Contact Group – and, naturally, will expand our production capacity. This acquisition will also increase the Phoenix Contact Group workforce by 400 employees.
PLCnext Store – Platform for software solutions
In order to be able to keep pace with the speed of technical developments, which is increasing significantly throughout the world, new approaches need to be found to harness existing knowledge on a broader basis. Against this backdrop, Phoenix Contact presented the PLCnext Store at this year’s SPS IPC Drives. This is a platform that makes it possible for all developers and market participants to offer self-developed software solutions and to purchase existing software solutions. For example, anyone who has developed a solution for pumping stations, lighting systems or driverless transport systems will be able to recoup their own expenses much more quickly by providing and selling this solution in the PLCnext Store. Those looking for suitable solutions or providers will be able to find what they are looking for much more quickly here in the future. The “App Store”, which is used so naturally in everyday life, is thus entering the industrial world. The idea of openness is of particular importance for market acceptance. Therefore, all providers – as well as competitors – will be able to place their software products for the PLCnext Technology controller solution on the market via the PLCnext Store.