The international FRABA Group, which is about to mark the 100th anniversary of its founding, has enjoyed a year of significant growth in sales and profitability. In fiscal 2017 (ending December 31) turnover increased by 21.5% over the previous year, with total sales revenues of € 31.5 million. Growth has been driven by strong performance of the Group’s two product-oriented business units: POSITAL (industrial position/motion sensors) and VITECTOR (safety/security systems for large motorized doors). FRABA now has 220 employees, located at offices in Europe, Asia and the USA.
“Our success has been the result of hard work and careful planning” comments Christian Leeser, majority shareholder and CEO of the FRABA Group. “Innovative products, such as our high-resolution IXARC magnetic rotary encoders and the motor feedback Kit Encoders have been well received by the market”. Leeser continues: “Our future success will be supported by our Aachen-based R&D center, which is making significant progress in the development of innovative signal processing algorithms for of our magnetic encoder products and improved performance from our Wiegand wire energy harvesting technologies.”
While the VITECTOR business experienced significant growth, especially in North America, the largest area of advance was in the production of compact Wiegand devices for energy harvesting. In 2017, production of these ‘mini-power plants’ (which convert rotary motion into electrical energy through a magnetic process) more than doubled. FRABA, which is the exclusive producer of Wigand wire, makes use of this technology in its self-powered rotation counters for multi-turn encoders. It also supplies Wiegand modules, packaged as surface-mountable devices, to manufacturers of gas and water meters. Here, the energy harvesting capability is used to eliminate the need for external power or batteries. There are now more than 500,000 Wiegand devices in use worldwide.
The company’s 100th anniversary will be celebrated in June in Cologne/ Germany. This is where FRABA was founded in 1918 as ‘Franz Baumgartner electrical apparatus GmbH’ and is still the home of POSITAL Europe. An important milestone in the company’s development occurred in 1993 when the organization was taken over by the brothers Achim and Christian Leeser. From a local manufacturer with a production model based on craftsmanship, FRABA has developed into an international business with an expanding range of advanced products. The ‘new’ FRABA is headquartered in Heerlen in the Netherlands and has four subsidiaries. On the product side are POSITAL and VITECTOR, which have operations in Cologne, Hamilton NJ (USA), Singapore and Shanghai. There is also an R&D center in Aachen, Germany and a highly sophisticated production facility in the Polish town of Slubice. Production is based on a data-driven ‘mass customization’ business model. POSITAL products are assembled from standardized components in accordance with customer-defined specifications, which gives the company a unique ability to offer an enormous variety of possible product configurations, all with short delivery times and competitive prices. This system can efficiently deliver both large and small orders, down to single items. (Minimum order quantity: One!)
Filed Under: ALL INDUSTRY NEWS • PROFILES • COMMENTARIES, Design World articles, Encoders (rotary) + resolvers, Energy management + harvesting