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Automation Technologies 3/2015

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Automation Technologies 3/2015


NEWS AND MARKETS Double happiness Pepperl+Fuchs started its business activities in China around 20 years ago when the country was listed as an emerging market. Today, China is a leading power and one of the most important markets for automation technology where Pepperl+Fuchs is well established. When visitors at the wax museum in Hong Kong approach Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, trumpets suddenly start a royal fanfare. The days when visitors merely walk past silent, motionless wax figures are well behind us. Today the museums are more like an amusement park with themed areas and interactive features. The acoustics that visitors hear as they approach the royal couple come from a sound system activated by an ultrasonic sensor from Pepperl+Fuchs. When a visitor steps into the sensor’s detection range, the signal triggers the controller to start the royal fanfare. The customer has chosen ultrasonic technology as it provides accurate results regardless of a target material’s shape, color, or surface contour. Even a camera flash does not affect the ultrasonic sensors. The early years Of course, wax museums are not among the wholesale buyers of automation technology in China. The high numbers are written elsewhere. “The automotive industry is our biggest market, closely followed by logistics, packaging, and the sector for doors, gates and elevators,” says Matthias Gunkel. Gunkel is Managing Director of Pepperl+Fuchs’ Factory Automation division in China, headquartered in Shanghai, and the company’s pioneer there. “When we started out in Shanghai in 1994, we stood at the beginning of an amazing economic development. Foreigners like me could hardly believe what they saw, but the Chinese were assured that their country would very soon regain the leading role it had had for most of human history.” Pepperl+Fuchs established a joint venture with a Chinese partner in 1994, the only way to start a business in those years. Ten years later, the laws had changed and the company became a WFOE – a wholly foreign-owned enterprise. “Many companies stumbled into considerable difficulties when they made this step because they managed the separation from their partners quite abruptly,” Gunkel remembers. “The Chinese say it is better to have old friends than new enemies. Still today we cooperate closely with our former joint venture partner who is a respected distributor of our products.” Company name: Pepperl+Fuchs Group Headquarters: Mannheim, Germany Turnover: 525 Mio. € / 700 Mio. USD Employees: more than 5,600 Products: industrial sensors, process interfaces About

NEWS AND MARKETS Solutions, service, and seminars The Pepperl+Fuchs division for Process Automation is headquartered in Beijing and has operated as a separate company since 1997. Andrew Taylor also agrees that good personal relationships are of utmost importance for successful business in China. But that’s only one aspect among others: “Everybody can sell devices, but we offer components and solutions, and that’s what the market requires. Our engineers do a great job in integrating our sensors and components into the plant environment, helping to optimize the customers’ processes.” An extensive wealth of knowledge is another specialty of Pepperl+Fuchs, and this is being met with great demand. Taylor says, “Chinese industry has grown so tremendously in such a short time. Engineers are confronted with complex situations “As opposed to the export focus of the past decades, the growing domestic demand is driving business today.” Matthias Gunkel, Managing Director of Pepperl+Fuchs’ Factory Automation division, Shanghai and often can’t rely on their own long-standing experience. In our seminars and workshops we provide them with the know-how, especially in the areas of fieldbus infrastructure and connectivity, functional safety, and hazardous area technology.” He describes a gradual change from the “do-it-quick” thinking of the pioneer years to a long-term perspective. The focus is shifting from low purchase prices to life cycle costs. “The big, multinational companies have always had this priority, now also the smaller Chinese companies increasingly appreciate top-quality products with German technology.” Broad network With 24 offices, the Pepperl+Fuchs’ Factory Automation division covers virtually all industrial centers of the country. The Process Automation division “China has a great hunger for energy, and we are dealing not only with traditional oil and gas processes but also with coal-to-oil and coal-to-gas technologies.” Andrew Taylor, General Manager of Pepperl+Fuchs’ Process Automation division, Beijing consists of five offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi‘an, and Chengdu, close to the biggest conglomerates of the process industries. Oil and gas as well as the petrochemical industry are the most important sectors here, with gross sales of more than $ 700 billion and annual growth rates around 17 % since 2009. “China has a great hunger for energy, and we are dealing not only with traditional oil and gas processes but also with coal-to-oil and coalto-gas technologies,” Andrew Taylor says. “The environment is also receiving more and more attention recently, which opens new opportunities for our products.” In factory automation, the growing domestic demand is driving business today – as opposed to the export focus of the past decades. Matthias Gunkel points out that “Rising domestic living standards combined with alternative energy sources and infrastructure investments are today’s key growth factors in China. Take for example the highspeed train network: within 6 years China has built 11,000 km of high-speed rail tracks, connecting all major cities. Today they successfully run the biggest and most heavily used high-speed rail network in the world.” Matthias Gunkel emphasizes that not only our strong geographical presence but also the company’s tradition of working closely with our customers makes Pepperl+Fuchs the market leader for industrial sensors in China’s factory automation industry . With a smile he adds: “The Chinese transcription for Pepperl+Fuchs is Bei Jia Fu, meaning double happiness. We take that literally.” Photographs: teaser fotolia AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 3/2015