The Lenze Group continues its growth trajectory. The specialist for automation solutions in the machine-manufacturing industry surpassed its forecasts in the 2016/2017 financial year (1st May 2016 to 30th April 2017). At the press conference for the Annual Report, the company directors also presented their Lenze 2020+ strategy for the international group of companies, which is currently celebrating its 70th anniversary in business. This strategy firmly positions the Group for further global growth.
“Lenze is doing well, and we want to keep growing in the future – worldwide. To achieve this we will focus more strongly on our competence as a systems supplier for the automation of machines,” said Chief Executive Officer Christian Wendler, who at the same time announced a comprehensive programme of investment.
The company was able to set new records for sales revenue and profitability in the 2016/2017 financial year. The Group’s sales revenue rose by 31.9m euros to 678.3m euros (plus 4.9 percent). The biggest absolute increase in sales was achieved in Europe. Here, sales revenue increased by 17.8m euros (plus 3.6 percent) to 514.0m euros. But the Lenze Group also made significant gains in other regions. The growth in sales in Asia by 12.3 percent to 83.7m euros was particularly pleasing. Sales revenue in America climbed 6.4 percent to 77.9m euros.
Lenze is opening a new chapter in automation. The company’s latest modular device, the “i950 Servo Inverter”, gives machine manufacturers access to a comprehensive automation platform. In future it will no longer matter whether the machine builder is looking for a centralised or a decentralised automaton topology or an intelligent mix of the two. Lenze’s future-proof portfolio covers the control level, the field level, and the electromechanics, and it ensures standardised data communication as well as connectivity to the cloud. It offers easy, efficient access for machine manufacturers who have to get highly flexible, intelligent, networked and custom-made machines to market as quickly as possible along with the corresponding digital offerings – and who regard the acquired expertise as a secure investment in the future.
The Lenze portfolio is now uniformly compatible and scalable, ensuring the greatest possible flexibility in the implementation of modular machine concepts and facilitating automation solutions that are tailored to meet the requirements of the task in hand. The new “i950 servo inverter”, like the controllers in the Lenze portfolio, allows the machine manufacturer to use the standardised technology modules in the FAST Application Software Toolbox. Where necessary, he can adapt these modules individually for specific customers or use his own software if it is programmed in IEC61131-3. This means he can develop his machine modules in a standardised way and, making a very safe investment with very little outlay, he can develop a comprehensive set of re-usable software – whether for modules with a decentralised intelligence in each axis or for modules with a powerful central control for complex multi-axis movements. From the software-engineering point of view, it will be irrelevant whether a servo inverter is integrated into the machine topology as a simple activating drive, as a parameterisable axis, or as a freely programmable axis.
Ready for the Internet of Things
Modern automation solutions should not restrict themselves merely to networking the machines on the shop floor. The further development of business models in the context of digital transformation is inextricably linked to cloud computing. Data from machines and systems are collected in the cloud, analysed there, and then linked to other information when necessary. Connectivity to the cloud will become a standard feature of the field level in the next few years, like fieldbus communication. This is why Lenze consistently uses standardised protocols such as OPC UA or the MQTT standard in its automation portfolio. This guarantees that its components are future-proof even in the age of cloud computing. Working in collaboration with the providers of cloud infrastructures, Lenze has thus created the basis for generating information – or, even better, knowledge – from data and thereby increasing the productivity and reliability of its customers’ machines and systems.
Digital transformation is changing the basic operating conditions for all production companies, and this has consequences for machine manufacturers. In a digitally transformed market, the capability for specifying, developing, implementing, supplying and maintaining comprehensive software systems and, in particular, inter-operable digital products will be of crucial importance. The conventional machine control application, which machine manufacturers today call “software”, will be used in only a small proportion of the systems of the future. Lenze is meeting the digital challenge with a uniformly compatible service portfolio that comes from an automation specialist with more than 17 years of experience in the software business. The portfolio ranges from concepts and methodologies to application modules, and it connects the levels from sensors/actuators all the way up to cloud business models. Here, too, the uniform compatibility of the portfolio makes it possible to find suitable solutions for the customer’s situation and requirements. The support begins with ideas and concepts for digital products and services, and it extends to dedicated teams for fast, flexible software development and to operation and support for cloud solutions. In collaboration with platform suppliers, Lenze can provide application modules for such things as connectivity and asset management or analytics apps. The company’s philosophy is to focus on open standards and modular architectures for a high level of investment security. This means that OEMs and production firms can exploit the possibilities of digitalisation, offer their customers new digital services and increase the productivity and reliability of their machines and systems.