Milestone Process Automation
Milestones in Process Automation
From a Small Company to a Global Player in Process Automation
Trust as a Decisive Success Factor
Despite all the innovations and new products developed during these years, for Kathmann there is another key success factor that stands out to him: “The trust in Endress+Hauser is the most important thing. Particularly with new technology, there are often situations in which not everything works perfectly. My guiding principle was always that I would never leave the plant until the sensor worked properly.” And the numbers back him up: 1989 ended with turnover of CHF 500 million — the company’s best year to date at this point. The company was already employing over 4,000 people all around the world.
The portfolio was expanded further still in close cooperation between customers and developers. Where Endress+Hauser only had one pressure sensor in its range in 1985, today the company can offer the complete spectrum, including a ceramic measuring cell for the trickiest measuring situations. The portfolio of temperature measurement instruments developed similarly — here again, the company started out with just one sensor on the market, and today it is a full-service provider and offers the full range. This development was recently crowned with the iTherm TrustSens, a self-calibrating thermometer that brought Endress+Hauser the Hermes Award 2018. With this unit, for the first time it is possible to perform process-dependent automatic inline calibration at very short calibration intervals.
The 1990s were shaped by the development of fieldbus technologies — and this is where the foundations for current Industry 4.0 projects were laid. “Suddenly it was possible to read additional information from the mass flow measurement devices, such as the density, temperature and viscosity,” remembers Kathmann. Ultrasonic sensors delivered the data in the form of curves directly to the display and thus provided answers to questions about how reliable a measurement was or where faults were occurring in the system. “That was a major leap not only for our customers, but also for ourselves. It gave us certainty that the measurements were working reliably.”
The success was reflected in the growth of the group of companies. In 1991, Endress+Hauser Flowtec took a state-of-the-art production plant into operation in Cernay in Alsace, while Conducta forged ahead in the same year with a new plant for pH electrodes in Waldheim in Saxony in eastern Germany. Two years later, the Deutschland-Holding division and the IT Center moved to a new building in Weil am Rhein. Maulburg was also expanded again. The subsidiary company PPE (Photo Print Electronic) constructed a second plant for PCBs in 1997 in Pulversheim, France and Flowtec built a large research and development facility in Reinach, Switzerland. The 1990s was also a time for a generational change in leadership: in 1995 Georg H. Endress passed the baton to his son Klaus Endress, who steered the course of the group of companies as CEO until 2014.
A Company for all Aspects of Automation
Thanks to the broad portfolio and the wealth of know-how in digitalization, Endress+Hauser started to receive more and more inquiries about full project planning and supply of systems, whether for calibratable dosing plants or fuel depots. The company responded by setting up Endress+Hauser Process Solutions AG in Reinach in Switzerland in 2000, which finally cemented the step from measuring instrument supplier to supplier of total automation technology solutions.
In the field of appliance-oriented solutions, the “People for Process Automation” offer, among other things, mechanical adaptations — e.g. the installation of bypass pipes or complete solutions for steam measurement and loading/unloading facilities for ships and tank trucks. Apart from engineering, this is also often about consultation and contact with the calibration authorities. This area also includes inventory management systems in tank farms for safe and reliable inventory measurements. The world of analysis solutions is also covered — starting from tailor-made analysis panels containing modules for pH and conductivity measurements and on to intelligent measurement containers.
The scope of tasks is extremely broad. “Our engineers look after all aspects of system integration — from basic and detail engineering to support and maintenance, along the entire lifecycle,” explains Peter Dietrich, Department Head of Automation/Digitalization at Endress+Hauser, underlining the key advantage: the company operates independently of control system manufacturers. A benefit here is the in-house, certified fieldbus laboratory. “This enables us to test manufacturer-independent automation solutions before we install them at the customer’s site. This saves time and relieves pressure during commissioning,” explains Dietrich. For around four years, Endress+Hauser has also been investing in the partnership program Open Integration, with which intelligent cross-manufacturer solutions can be developed.