Fresh ideas and innovative products continue to pay off for the international FRABA Group. With a 12.4% increase in sales for Fiscal 2018 (year-end: Dec. 31), the corporation, which includes the POSITAL (position and motion control sensors) and VITECTOR (safety technology for industrial doors) brands, posted another year of double-digit growth. Global sales reached € 35 million (US$ 39 million), while the number of employees in Europe, Asia and the USA rose by 4.5%, to 230.
Key factors for the increase in personnel were the opening of a new sales office in Shanghai, in response to strong demand from China, and a further increase in the size of the development team at the group’s central R&D center. This research unit, located in Aachen, Germany, works closely with its neighbor, the highly regarded North-Rhein Westphalia Technical University, and other national and international partners in the fields of engineering and applied electronics. Currently there are 40 researchers and developers on board – from 28 countries. Physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers collaborate on interdisciplinary projects. "Our R&D staff work closely with our sales engineers in the field to drive the innovation that is at the core of our brand," says Christian Leeser, CEO of the FRABA Group. "This is why we are committed to invest around 10% of our global sales in R&D –– year after year."
A key part of FRABA’s DNA has been avoidance of 'me too' products and the consistent emphasis on new and innovative solutions. "We stand for fresh ideas and ingenuity that bring tangible benefits to our customers," says Leeser. "This is the significance of the work done by our R&D teams. For example, their patient, step-by-step work has enabled us to consistently improve the amount of energy harvested via the 'magical' Wiegand effect.”
Over the past 15 years, FRABA has established itself as a trendsetter, leading the transition from complex optical encoders to robust and less expensive precision magnetic encoders. These products are offered in both stand-alone versions and as integrated motor feedback kits. Throughout 2018, several significant milestones were achieved. To meet the growing demand in the 'energy harvesting' market, the global production capacity for SMD Wiegand sensors was doubled to one million units per annum. Following the successful rollout of magnetic kit encoders for servomotors, last fall saw the addition of magnetic kits specially tailored for stepper motors. This U.S.-driven initiative has added absolute position feedback to low-cost stepper motors, significantly improving their performance levels. The latest breakthrough is the world’s first battery-free, Wiegand-based multiturn hollow shaft kit encoder. Pre-launched at the global SPS show In Nuremberg, Germany, last November, sales of this innovative device – geared at robot manufacturers and the motor sector – started this month. "With all these initiatives lined up, we are confident to achieve further growth in 2019," says Leeser.