2021 was an extraordinary year for sensor and automation specialist Balluff. Not only did the fourth-generation family-owned company celebrate its 100th anniversary, Balluff also exceeded the sales threshold of half a billion euros for the first time. “This is an important milestone for us. We are very proud to have achieved this despite difficult conditions. Our thanks go to the global Balluff team,“ says Managing Director Katrin Stegmaier-Hermle. Across the entire group, sales increased by 23 percent from 410 million euros in the previous year to 504 million euros. Sales grew in the double-digit range across all regions. The Asia Pacific region was the biggest driver of growth: sales generated there increased by 37 percent compared to the previous year to 96 million euros.
Set for growth
“We have done our homework. The course for our organization continues to be set for growth,” says Managing Director Frank Nonnenmann. “Over the past year, we concluded the realignment of our development and production network and concentrated our manufacturing at the two major production sites in Hungary and China. We consistently continue to make our headquarters in Neuhausen an innovation and competence center. As of December 31, 2021, Balluff employed 3,600 people at 38 sites worldwide, four percent more than in 2020.
Growth driver e-mobility
Balluff was able to increase sales in its core industries last year – the automotive industry, robotics, as well as mechanical and plant engineering. “Over the past year, we realized several major projects and thus expanded our volume business,” Nonnenmann explains.
Balluff is also continuing to drive forward its diversification: sales with customers from the packaging, food and beverage industries rose by 27 percent. E-mobility, in particular battery production, proved to be another driver of growth with a sales increase of 50 percent.
Noticeably boosting digitalization
Balluff accompanies its customers on the way to digital manufacturing. “But the digitalization of our customers’ production not only holds enormous growth potential for us. We also focus on our own processes and strengthen our own interconnected, global collaboration. The global teams can react quickly and in a targeted manner. This is also demonstrated by the way they are dealing with the tense situation on the market for electronic components,” Managing Director Florian Hermle explains. Frank Nonnenmann adds: “In order to keep the impact on our customers at a minimum, we set up a global task force early on in 2021. It connects experts from all company divisions and assigns the production volumes that can be manufactured to customer orders and delivery priorities as best as possible,” says Nonnenmann. In addition, the company has quickly tapped additional sources of supply and developed product variants that are less reliant on scarce electronic components.
Sensor and automation solutions in high demand
Despite all challenges, the success year of 2021 has created a good starting position: the volume of incoming orders at the end of the year was 44 percent higher than in December of 2020 and sensor and automation solutions by Balluff are still in high demand worldwide. The company plans to further expand manufacturing capacities at its major production sites. In addition, the global supplier base is to be expanded and the logistics and transport network aligned even more closely with the regional needs of the markets.
“We operate in a time of high uncertainty. The war in Ukraine – a country in the middle of Europe – affects us all,” explains Stegmaier-Hermle. Due to the worldwide supply shortages for electronic components, the war in Ukraine, its effects on the global economy, and the unclear further course of the pandemic, management remains cautious with concrete forecasts. «We will do everything in our power to react to the situation as flexibly as possible and in the interests of our customers,” says Hermle.
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