Innovative products and the end-to-end digitalised business concept have also kept Fraba in the black in 2020.
Despite strong headwinds from the spread of the Corona virus, the globally active Fraba Group, whose main brand Posital regularly sets new trends in position sensors and energy harvesting, was able to close the 2020 financial year (year-end: 31 December) with a plus of three percent. Worldwide, a turnover of just under 40 million euros was achieved - with a constant 230 employees working in Europe, Asia and the USA. Profits increased at an above-average rate, with savings due to a lack of travel, among other things, having a positive impact. "The result is respectable - even if we were not able to achieve the double-digit growth we had targeted under normal circumstances in 2020," says Christian Leeser, majority shareholder and CEO of Fraba.
In the Corona year in particular, stable development was ensured by the broad positioning of the Posital portfolio, which not least targets crisis-proof industries such as the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, the food industry and logistics with precisely fitting encoders and inclination sensors. It was crucial that the supply chains held and that digital production - based on 'mass customisation' and 'batch size 1' - could run without interruptions.
"A huge plus was that we were able to adapt to the new normality of virtual working right from the start thanks to the corporate system that had been established a long time ago - with a flat hierarchy, completely digitalised processes, a flexible office concept with a high proportion of home offices, an 'open book policy' and a great deal of freedom for all employees to make decisions," says Leeser. In 2020, the launch of the reference and order portal EncoderMatch.com, which actively supports maintenance personnel in the fast and cost-effective replacement of incremental encoders from a wide range of manufacturers, and the premiere of the smallest kit encoder for integrated motor feedback provided particular impetus. As a world first, the Mini-Kit (d=22 mm) has cleared the way for multi-turn monitoring in small and micro drives.
Last year, Fraba significantly strengthened its commitment to Wiegand technology, which is used as an energy harvesting system for supplying the counting electronics in magnetic multiturn encoders - thus making gearboxes and batteries obsolete. Posital manufactures more than one million Wiegand sensors, which convert magnetically induced pulses into voltage or energy, as SMD-assemblable components every year.
In order to establish Wiegand technology even more strongly in the pool of energy harvesting systems such as solar, piezo or thermoelectrics in the future, two pioneering research initiatives were launched in mid-2020 with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research - each lasting three years. The goal of the first project is to further scale the production of Wiegand sensors and to significantly reduce the unit costs once again.
The second project focuses on significantly increasing the energy yield. Specifically, it is about generating enough energy for the wireless communication of sensors in networked IoT systems. Both research projects are closely interlinked with a global FRABA initiative that has its sights set on completely new fields of action - beyond the Wiegand application in multiturn encoders. On the agenda of the task force, which will soon be upgraded to the independent brand UBITO, is the systematic tracking down of innovative Wiegand applications.
"There is a lot to suggest that 2021 will be a strong and buoyant year," Leeser enthuses. "In addition to Ubito, we have a second exciting start-up in the wings with Credemus, where we offer our digital business platform, which we developed ourselves, to interested SMEs in a practical form - from the implementation of tried and tested software tools to tangible consulting. Credemus and Ubito are part of an ambitious rebranding that we have planned for 2021." Spurred on by the disproportionately good order intake in the first four months, the Fraba boss dares to make a forecast: "If selective material bottlenecks don't put a spoke in our wheel, the increase in 2021 should again be well into double figures."