E+H feels well positioned, despite CV

The Endress + Hauser press conference that reported their 2019 annual results today also reported minimal effect on output from the necessary measures taken to protect staff and ensure safe working in the face of Coronavirus.

From visits to a few Endress + Hauser locations around Basel, their factories, in marked contrast to most equivalent UK production sites, are spacious, and even historically had a large separation between work stations and production operators.  With this in-built advantage it was probably simpler to impose social distancing on the production floor.

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Matthias Altendorf, in his comments on the effects of CV over the last few months, said that at peak times, over 10,000 employees were working from home. This was primarily enabled by their concept of a digital workplace, with an IT landscape based on a cloud based architecture. As standard, even without CV, employees are allowed to spend 20% of work time at home.

The major effect of the coronavirus pandemic seen so far has been a 20% drop in order intake over the last two months: this order intake has been assisted by an increase in orders via their website by 90% compared to last year’s levels.

An E+H diary of the effects of CV

Matthias Altendorf gave a comprehensive account of the effects of CV on the E+H operations.

“Ever since the first reports of the outbreak of a novel respiratory illness in January, the coronavirus has dominated our lives, professionally and privately. So you might be interested in how we are dealing with this situation and what impact the pandemic is having on our business.

We reacted early, and extensively, to the new situation. After all, we and our customers have a deeply ingrained safety and protection mindset. A task force at Group level is coordinating and communicating our measures and guidelines related to the pandemic. This team comes together each day – in a virtual environment – to discuss the situation, just like the Executive Board, which holds a daily video conference.

From the very beginning our motto was that we would rather do too much, too early, rather than too little, too late. Our goal is to protect people and our business. To do that, we are following two basic principles:

First, the health of our employees, customers and partners is our top priority. With our measures, we want to protect people from being infected by the coronavirus. And we want to do our part to prevent the pandemic from spreading further. In this respect, we also have a responsibility to society.

Second, we want to provide our customers with the best possible support. Large parts of our business concern system-relevant sectors. Important infrastructures and systems – such as water and energy supply networks, production of food or pharmaceuticals – must be kept running. We have a responsibility here as well.

After the first cases appeared outside of China, we declared a travel ban for Asia as early as January. We then continued to add measures more or less on a weekly basis. We canceled customer seminars, training programs, international conferences and trade fair events. We first banned international travel and followed this up with bans on domestic travel as well.

We introduced strict hygiene measures at our locations. We made hand sanitizers available and made sure that surfaces people come into frequent contact with are disinfected multiple times a day. We reorganized our work environments and workflows so that employees can maintain the required distances between one another. And we made sure that our employee restaurants maintain proper hygiene.

In mid-March we then required practically all office-based employees to work from home. That even included people in areas such as research and development, who rarely work from home. These measures are also designed to protect those who must continue to work at our facilities. Although there is a lot we can do remotely, manufacturing, repairing or delivering instruments is something you obviously cannot do from home.

At peak times up to 10,000 employees are working from home. Because our internal IT service provider Endress+Hauser InfoServe had already raised our IT infrastructure to a high level in years of dedicated work, everything is running smoothly. Secure and uncomplicated access to our data is possible from anywhere. This is the result of a project we launched five years ago: with the digital workplace we completely restructured our IT landscape and went from pure on-site applications to a cloud-based architecture.

The whole time we have managed to maintain the availability of materials at our plants around the world. And we’ve been able to ensure delivery logistics, despite canceled flights and restraints on shipping. However, there was nothing we could do about government-mandated temporary plant closures such as in Italy, India and South Africa. This aside, Endress+Hauser was and is maintaining its delivery capabilities.

Behind this are the tremendous efforts of our employees. These days you often hear talk of new  everyday heroes. Our heroes work in production, service and logistics. And they are working under difficult conditions in the office or from home, in small apartments, which they were essentially  unable to leave for weeks – for example our colleagues in France, Italy, Spain and Dubai – and sometimes   having to take care of children at the same time. Or they are continuing to work at the company under strict distancing and hygiene guidelines. All of them have achieved great things in recent weeks!

Despite all these challenges, we have managed to continue to provide our customers with excellent, extensive support. We are bridging the physical distances forced upon us by the coronavirus through digital and emotional proximity.

Our website endress.com serves as a high-performance platform for a wide range of transactions. With a personalized account, our customers can select the right product, configure it to their requirements and order it directly from us. Much like we are accustomed to in our private lives with online shops, our customers enjoy full transparency regarding the status of the order. This is a function that has been much in demand in recent weeks. And, of course, they can retrieve the latest documents, data and information for their instruments at any time and anywhere.

Interest from our customers in these options has grown enormously during the corona crisis. We currently have more than one million visitors to our website each month, an increase of 20 percent from 2019. Incoming orders via endress.com are running 90 percent above last year’s levels. Online business makes up more than 10 percent of the business in a dozen countries, a notable figure for our products that require such intensive consultation, and an indicator of where we are heading.

This applies to many areas. We have customer seminars and internal events in virtual space, we are successful with webinars and podcasts. We are also breaking new ground in service. With Visual Support we support customers remotely via an app. Using the camera in the customer’s smartphone or tablet, our employees can gain an insight into the situation. They can then provide precise instructions regarding what the customer has to do. We will offer this service to our customers at no charge for as long as the coronavirus is spreading.

Our colleagues at Analytik Jena are facing special challenges at the moment. As you know, our goal is to support our customers from the lab, to product and process development, all the way to the process itself. One step toward this goal was the acquisition of lab specialist Analytik Jena in 2013. Although the business is focused on industry customers, Analytic Jena has also been supplying customers in the medical industry as well as in research and scientific environments.

As the coronavirus broke out in China at the beginning of the year, our colleagues at Analytik Jena immediately jumped into action. Providing evidence of an infection requires preparing and analyzing the genetic material in the virus. Analytik Jena supplies the required equipment: dependable instruments capable of rapidly generating reliable results.

On short notice our colleagues at Analytik Jena China looked into how available coronavirus tests could be used in our instruments. They informed around 1,000 interested participants via webinars how the genetic material in the virus can be reliably detected. They also furnished several hospitals in China with the corresponding lab technology, including the emergency hospital in Wuhan that became famous because it was erected in just 10 days.

Endress+Hauser China has donated equipment during the corona crisis. Our instruments were installed in a clinic in Shanghai to ensure that it has clean water. Liquid analysis technology from    Endress+Hauser has also been deployed in Wuhan, where it is being used to monitor the wastewater treatment process.

The past weeks have shown that our Strategy 2020+, which we have been pursuing for five years, is focused on the right areas. The emphasis on our products, solutions and services and on the interaction and collaboration with our customers as well as our employees makes us more agile and creates opportunities. If we had not made such solid progress in the field of digitization in recent years, we would not have been in a position to deal with these new challenges so effectively. That’s why we will continue to pursue this path.

The same applies to our focus in the analysis area, from the lab to the process. The continuous  expansion of our sales and production networks has proven its worth, as have the large investments in innovative products. We will continue to work consistently on all of these strategic focal points.

One of these innovative products is the Micropilot FWR30, the first level sensor, which we developed specifically for the Industrial Internet of Things. The FWR30 is a radar-based sensor with 80-gigahertz technology designed for monitoring levels in plastic tanks – so-called intermediate bulk containers, or IBCs for short. These containers are often portable, or they are used at flexible installations. For this reason, refill orders are often placed only after the tank is already empty.

With the FWR30, this approach is a thing of the past. Our IIoT sensor is battery operated. It is fast and easy to commission and automatically connects to the cloud via wireless communications technology. The measurement values and the location of the container can be retrieved with a smartphone, tablet  or PC. This service is free of charge for customers who only want to monitor the fill levels. If needed, it can be expanded to a complete inventory management solution including supply chain tracking.

A lot of innovation can be found inside the new Proline Prosonic Flow G300/500. This instrument is an ultrasonic flowmeter for natural and process gas applications in the chemical or oil & gas industries.

Our developers worked on this instrument for six years. What makes the Pronsonic Flow G special is that it measures precisely and reliably even in wet gas applications. And in contrast to the differential pressure method, there is no pressure drop due to an orifice plate that wears over time and requires costly maintenance.

And that’s not all. With optional pressure and temperature sensors and software that we developed in- house, the Prosonic Flow G can calculate additional parameters and process variables such as mass and energy flow, methane content, density or viscosity. No other instrument on the market offers such versatility!

The next product fits in any pocket: the Liquiline Mobile CML18, a multiparameter handheld instrument for liquid analysis. The CML18 can be used to verify online measurement values from the process with sample measurements in the lab. The results from online and laboratory measurements often vary widely because the sensor technology, analysis process or environmental conditions differ.

This is where Liquiline Mobile now builds the bridge. We have taken Memosens, a technology proven in process applications for more than 15 years, and integrated it into a handheld instrument. All the sensor signals are converted into a robust digital signal that is not only resistant to moisture but guarantees data integrity. The Memosens technology also makes swapping out the sensor child’s play. And with our SmartBlue app, the Liquiline Mobile can also be integrated into Industry 4.0 applications.

For laboratory applications, Analytik Jena introduced the PlasmaQuant 9100 to the market. This analyzer utilizes optical emissions spectrometry with inductively coupled plasma – or ICP-OES for short – for routine chemical analyses. A unique feature of the PlasmaQuant 9100 is the high-resolution optics, which provide a high degree of sensitivity, accuracy and precision.

This instrument is designed for high throughput. It’s employed in the labs of our usual customers, such as in the food & beverage, life sciences and mining, minerals & metals industries. The PlasmaQuant 9100 analyzes sunflower oil for heavy metal impurities, tests antibiotics for contamination or determines the percentage of rare-earth elements in rock, for instance.

Product innovations such as these form the foundation of our economic success. But for us that’s not the only benchmark. With everything we do, we want to live up to our ecological and social responsibility as a company. Our goal is to further develop Endress+Hauser in all dimensions of sustainability.

When we erect new buildings, they fulfill demanding standards with respect to energy efficiency. In Canada we are even building a customer experience and process training center that will be energy autonomous. The building, in Burlington in the province of Ontario, will completely cover its energy needs from local regenerative sources and thus be CO2 neutral.

In the past year we launched the Endress+Hauser Water Challenge. With this initiative we’d like to improve access to clean water for people around the world. We kicked off the challenge last October with a charity run in Reinach. 250 employees participated as joggers or Nordic walkers, donating a small amount for each completed kilometer. The company then doubled the final tally.

The first international charity runs took place in Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Argentina. The coronavirus  has unfortunately prevented further events from being organized. But we’re happy to report that we were able to complete the initial aid project in Vietnam, where we permanently secured the  water  supply in a small village. We hope we can continue with the initiative very soon. Other aid projects have been identified in Brazil, India and Cameroon.

How will things proceed from here? The coronavirus will not disappear from our lives quickly. Hopefully, a vaccine and an effective medication will be developed in the very near future. But many months or even years could go by before that happens. Until then we have no choice but to accustom ourselves to the new normal and live with the pandemic.

In many countries we are in the process of returning some of the work-at-home employees to their offices in the company – maintaining the required distance to one another and strict hygiene measures including protective masks for when we leave our desks. Each loosening of the restrictions will require additional measures. This special situation will constantly demand new sets of behavior and novel approaches from us for an indefinite period of time, both at work and in our private lives.

We are still unable to estimate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But this crisis will no doubt leave its mark – on our customers and us. Furthermore, the coronavirus is not the only issue we are dealing with. The financial consequences of the pandemic are impacting us in an already difficult political and economic environment.

Tariff conflicts and political tensions, the structural crisis in the automotive sector and the pressure to decarbonize industry – all these things continue underneath the current crisis. The debt and low- interest problems were prevalent beforehand, and these issues will again gain momentum due to the measures governments and the central banks have implemented to shore up the economy and cushion the effects of the pandemic. It remains uncertain what the  short-, medium- and long-term   consequences will be for the global economy and our business. But there will be changes.

That can create a lot of concern. But fear and panic are not good advisers, and we cannot let ourselves be guided by them. Instead, we have to address the challenges with a cool head and a warm heart. We have to focus on responsibility and solidarity and reflect on our freedom. Because even in such a situation, we have a wide range of options at our disposal when it comes to taking action and shaping the future. And we will do everything we can to bring Endress+Hauser through this period.

As a company we are focused on safeguarding the health of people, securing jobs, doing our best to serve our customers and maintaining and developing our external network of suppliers, service providers and partners. To do that we are also prepared to accept financial losses in the short term.

Our experience from the 2008/2009 financial crisis will help us during this acute phase. Flexibility and agility are important whenever we find ourselves in a highly dynamic situation – that means moving  only as fast as we can respond to new situations as they arise and adjust the course when required. At the same time, we should not lose track of our long-term objectives. The combination of operational agility and long-term objectives is best mastered by people, our employees.

We can offset fluctuations in the workload of our production and sales centers by adjusting capacities and restructuring resources, by lowering working time accounts – even into the minus – and by making flexible use of vacation and additional company holidays. If necessary, we will also resort to working reduced hours for a while, but only after we have exhausted most of the other options at hand.

It goes without saying that all expenses will be subject to a detailed review. We will avoid expenses that under the circumstances are not necessary or at least not necessary at the moment.  Some minor   projects may be delayed. But we will carry out and complete the large investment projects as planned. We want to continue to develop our future capabilities; we want to maintain and strengthen them.

Because only when we adopt a long-term perspective can we safeguard the interests of our customers, employees and shareholders by strengthening the resilience and longevity of the company.

Endress+Hauser has always emerged from crises stronger. I’m convinced this time will be no different. Why? Because we have always performed solidly and made provisions during good times. Because we have a shareholder family behind us that is loyal to our customers and employees and takes its entrepreneurial responsibility seriously. And because we are an excellent company with enthusiastic customers, tremendous employees, an outstanding infrastructure and a unique portfolio.

But above all, we have a sustainable business model. At Endress+Hauser, everything we do is important for our customers. We can help them become even better and help them make their processes, products and production more efficient – in all aspects – so that they can increase quality, raise productivity and use fewer resources. This brings our customers forward in good times and even more so in difficult  times. And, after all, this makes the world a better place in which to live.

 

E+H on course for growth in 2020

Endress+Hauser has reported on their 2019 financial year, and confirms they remain on course for growth. In 2019 the Group increased net sales by almost 8 percent, to over 2.6 billion euros. The Swiss measurement and automation technology specialist created 400 new jobs worldwide. At the end of the year the company had more than 14,300 employees.

“We have grown across all fields of activity, industries and regions,” said Matthias Altendorf, CEO of the Endress+Hauser Group. The strongest impetus came from the Asian region. However Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East all developed positively, but at a much slower pace. “With good product innovations, we have set a clear benchmark in the industry.”

In 2019, order entry rose faster than sales. “Endress+Hauser has started 2020 with a significantly higher order backlog than the year before,” reported Chief Financial Officer Dr Luc Schultheiss. He confirmed that in 2019 “The Group was able to maintain return on sales at the previous year’s level. We are satisfied with our profit before taxes.”

However E+H has lower growth expectations for 2020. They anticipate sales growth in the mid-single-digit percentage range, and aim to maintain profitability. “However, there are still many uncertainties,” stressed Luc Schultheiss.

E+H will present its audited 2019 financial figures on 12 May 2020, in Basel, Switzerland.

E+H invests in analysis

Endress+Hauser has expanded its center of competence for advanced analysis in Lyon, France. The Group has invested two million euros in a new production facility and associated office space, in order to meet the growing demand in the area of advanced process analysis systems.

From Lyon, around 20 employees support Endress+Hauser sales centres across Europe, in the application and sales of advanced analytical technology, with a focus on project business and after-sales services. Already, ten Endress+Hauser sales centres across Europe have specialists on board to handle this complex field of activity.

Customer-specific manufacturing

The new 630-square-meter production facility will be used for customer-specific manufacturing and the assembly of complete analysis systems. Rounding out the facility are offices, rooms for factory acceptance tests and space reserved for future use. The adjacent 1,500-square-meter office building, which opened in 2017, is also home to the Endress+Hauser France regional sales office. With a total of 7,000 square meters, the property offers sufficient space to grow the location even further.

“The expansion of the Lyon location allows us to do an even better job of bringing our expertise in the field of process analysis to our customers,” emphasized Matthias Altendorf, CEO of the Endress+Hauser Group, during the dedication ceremony on 17 July 2019. “This is an important strategic goal for us and helps our customers acquire more information from their processes.”

Analysis portfolio expands

Advanced analysis provides immediate information related to material properties and product quality. Endress+Hauser continuously develops its analysis portfolio to provide online monitoring of quality parameters, for example through spectroscopic techniques. This allows customers to reduce time to market and optimize their processes. Customers in industries such as life sciences, chemical and food & beverage, as well as oil & gas, can benefit from Endress+Hauser’s advanced analysis portfolio.

Advanced technologies

The Lyon location combines the expertise of Endress+Hauser and its subsidiaries Kaiser Optical Systems and SpectraSensors under one roof. The Raman analysers from Kaiser Optical Systems are used to examine the composition and material properties of liquids, gases and solids and enable the real-time measurement of product characteristics. SpectraSensors is a leader in the field of TDLAS technology, using tunable diode lasers to monitor the attenuation of a gas at specific frequencies, which can be used to reliably measure trace-level concentrations of targeted gases.

E+H reports good growth in 2018

Endress+Hauser’s business developed very positively across all regions and industries in 2018. The Group, one of the world’s leading providers of process and laboratory instrumentation, automation solutions and services, reports new highs in net sales, income and employment.

According to preliminary figures, Endress+Hauser increased net sales by more than 9 percent to over 2.4 billion euros in 2018. Exchange rate effects prevented even better results. “In local currencies, we grew nearly 13 percent,” said Chief Financial Officer Dr Luc Schultheiss. The family-owned company created new jobs primarily in production, research and development and services. At the end of 2018, Endress+Hauser had 13,928 employees worldwide, 629 more than the year before.

EH_matthias_altendorf“The solid development in sales shows that we have held our ground well in the market,” explained CEO Matthias Altendorf. “We supported our customers with more than 50 new products, solutions and services. We were able to break new ground through our digitalization strategy, as well as in the measurement and analysis of quality-relevant parameters”. The growth was spurred by innovations from across all fields of activity.

Good start to the new year

Endress+Hauser is expecting a somewhat weaker market dynamic for the current year. The Group is anticipating growth in the mid single-digit range, with earnings remaining at a healthy level. “The year has gotten off to a good start so far,” reported Luc Schultheiss. Assuming the business remains well on track, the Group expects to create several hundred new jobs around the world in 2019.

Endress+Hauser will present its 2018 audited financial figures on 14 May 2019 in Basel, Switzerland.

E+H celebrate 50 years in Manchester

Measurement and automation specialist Endress+Hauser Ltd is in great shape as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary on 11 November 2018. Now employing over 200 people, and with an estimated turnover of £46 million in 2018, the measurement and automation engineering specialist continues to break new sales records.

Part of the Switzerland-headquartered Endress+Hauser group, the UK sales and production centre was founded in 1968 by Dr Georg H Endress, the grandfather of the current managing director. Originally situated on Southmoor Road in Manchester, the company moved to its current site on Floats Road in 1996. In 2008 the company opened a new £8 million state-of-the-art office and engineering facility to support its growth, followed in 2013 by a £1 million training centre incorporating the latest digital technology.

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The E+H Manchester office and engineering building

Over the last 50 years Endress+Hauser has developed from a vendor of devices and instruments to a full-range services provider working with customers in process industries such as food and beverage, water and wastewater and oil and gas. Products for measuring temperature and flow are also designed and manufactured at the Manchester site.

Steven-EndressSteven Endress took the reins as managing director in 2016, the first third-generation member of the Endress family to take an operational role in the family business. Reflecting on the 50-year anniversary, he said, ‘Over the years our buildings and the scope of our offer have changed as we seek to align with our customers’ needs. But, without doubt, our most important asset is our people. It is the drive, ambition and attitude of my colleagues that makes the difference.’

As well as investing in the business, the company has a long history of investing in the local community. The founder of Endress+Hauser invested four per cent of his company in the creation of the charitable Georg H Endress Foundation, which promotes training and education, as well as supporting academic research. Today, Endress+Hauser Ltd continues this legacy by forging links with local schools, colleges and universities. Earlier this year, the sales centre donated nearly 50 computers to one local school, Harrop Fold, which allowed them to kit out their ICT room.

Confusion over radar level measurement

We have learned not to get too confused over suppliers using buzz-words and clever marketing names, but recently it seems the major level measurement system vendors have been introducing new and higher radar frequency systems as their latest development – and therefore, by implication, maybe the best. We were used to 6 GHz, and then 26 GHz radar frequencies, but why should we suddenly go to 80 GHz? Then, perhaps just to add a little excitement to the mix, Endress+Hauser started talking about 113 GHz!

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The E+H radar line up that offers 113GHz!

This article was first featured in the journal South African Instrumentation & Control in September 2017, a journal published by Technews

Let’s dispel a few myths. Firstly, in the same way that lasers for fibre-optic communications systems made the technology available to create infrared optical systems for process gas analysers, and mobile phone technology possibly provided the hardware for the first radar level measurement systems; the 80 GHz versions are a result of measurement technology made commercially viable on the back of production investment in the distance measurement systems and parking sensors used in modern cars. So the suppliers take the available sensors and chipsets to create a new industrial product, and then have to find the best applications – in this case, the ones that might benefit from the 80 GHz.

Secondly, E+H do not have a 113 GHz system, this is a marketing statement, made to catch attention – ‘with a wink’ is their expression. They claim a ‘complete radar competence of 113 GHz’ because this is the sum of the many different frequencies their different sensors use! These are 1, 6, 26 and 80 GHz.

So why have different frequencies?

Possibly the best explanation for the applications suited to the different frequencies has been provided by the Rosemount measurement division of Emerson, in their “Engineer’s Guides”. The Emerson expertise stretches back many years, having acquired the Saab Tank Radar business. Per Skogberg, from the Gothenburg HQ in Sweden, separates the devices into low, medium and high frequency, to generalise.

Radar signals are attenuated, i.e. they lose signal strength as they pass through the air, or vapour, above the liquid. High frequencies are more severely affected than lower. When the air has moisture, steam or liquid droplets (from spray or filling) present, the attenuation is higher. Equally in solids applications, dust particles have the same effect. So low and medium frequency radar are best when there is dust or moisture present.

At lower frequencies, the wavelength is longer (30-50 mm), so surface ripples in a tank have a small effect. At higher frequencies, surface ripples and foam on the surface can be a problem. But the shorter wavelength of the high frequency units (4 mm) allows accurate operation over short ranges, for example in small tanks. The higher frequency units can use a smaller sensor construction, so the unit is easier to install. The beam angle is narrower, so it can be aimed at a smaller target area and therefore can be positioned more easily to avoid any obstructions in the tank. But even this can be a disadvantage, as the installation needs to be exactly vertical and any turbulence of the surface during filling or stirring can cause the signal to be lost temporarily, in larger tanks.

When reading these suggestions, it is important to remember that Emerson does not offer an 80 GHz unit yet, so their marketing approach would naturally bias users to look at low and medium frequency units. The suppliers of high frequency units (Vega, Krohne and E+H) would point out that in many liquid storage tanks the surface is undisturbed, since any foam, turbulence and significant ripples (>2 mm) caused by filling or liquid transfer will only cause short-term interference. Plus the small antenna size and short range performance make 80 GHz units very useful for smaller process vessels and tanks.

Radar system types

There are two types of radar systems, Guided Wave Radar (GWR) and Free Space Radar. The GWR systems use a conducting rod, or similar, extending down into the liquid, often working in a stilling chamber attached to the main process tank. These operate at low microwave frequencies, and are independent of surface turbulence and foam. They are useful for shorter range measurements and interface measurement between liquids, as well as long ranges.

The Free Space Radar systems are more widely used, since they are top-mounted with nothing in the tank: indeed, some can operate through non-conducting windows in the tank roof. Low and medium frequency radar systems generally transmit a signal pulse and measure the liquid distance by the time delay for the returned pulse. High frequency (80 GHz) systems use an FMCW radar measurement, where the frequency of the transmission is swept, and the frequency difference of the returned signal is measured to assess the distance. The FMCW technique is also used at 26 GHz in some recently launched sensors.

Radar systems can transmit their measurement data using 4-20 mA, fieldbus systems like HART, FF, Profibus PA and Modbus, or indeed via wireless systems like Bluetooth. The low and medium frequency pulsed radar systems generally operate over a two-wire interface: some of the higher frequency FMCW systems require more power and use a separate power connection.

Major applications

Simple low-cost radar level measurement sensors have been specifically designed for water industry use, in sewage sumps and flume flow measurement, by Vega and Endress+Hauser. Vega suggest that 40,000 such sensors are now in use in the water industry, mainly in Europe, and claim their total output of such sensors exceeds 550,000 units over the last 25 years.

Several of these devices use simple Bluetooth interrogation and programming from a handheld PDA: E+H demonstrates this at its facility in Maulberg, working on the stream that runs through the factory complex, as seen below.

Micropilot_FMR10_FMR20_on test stream at Maulberg, with operator using Bluetooth

Both E+H and Vega produce further industrial units for use on process vessels, and storage vessels for solids and liquids. Recently, E+H has extended its capability to add long-range units, such as the 80 GHz FMR62, working at up to 80 m range, with an accuracy of 1 mm. Other units work up to 125 m range, at 3 mm accuracy. These units will eventually be aimed at the large petrochemical industry storage tank markets, and specifically are working towards use for custody transfer duties.

Krohne have similarly announced a new range of its 80 GHz Optiwave sensors. Some of these can even operate at up to 700°C, for example for use on molten salt vessels in solar power plants. Lower specification units rated at up to 150°C can be used through a tank roof made of plastic, or similar materials. Suitable for small or narrow tanks, the unit can measure ranges of up to 100 m. Krohne also offers lower frequency Optiwave systems for use on solids and powders, or to electronically monitor the float position in magnetic level indicator columns attached to process vessels.

Postscript: Krohne is organising a webinar with the title “80 GHz Radar Level – Allrounder or Overrated?” to discuss their recent developments with such systems. This webinar will take place on 18th October 2017 at 3pm London time/10am New York time.

E+H reports on 2016 sales

The report that follows was first published on Eoin O’Riain’s Read-Out.net website in Ireland last week. It gives the first report on Nick Denbow’s visit to the E+H European presentation in Basel, which included a tour of the Maulberg manufacturing operation for level measurement products, like the NMR81 radar based systems. Financial results for the 2016 year were discussed with the 70+ journalists and media analysts attending.

This year, Endress+Hauser expanded the presentation of their annual financial results, inviting journalists from not only Germany and Switzerland, but including others from Belgium, the Netherlands and Great Britain. In all 70+ attendees heard Klaus Endress and Matthias Altendorf say that the consolidated Group sales fell slightly between 2015 and 2016, by 0.2%, achieving Euro2.1Bn. This fall was actually only because of currency fluctuations. “Currencies created a headwind for us last year,” said Altendorf. Working from the value of sales in local currencies, sales in total actually increased by 2.1%. Whilst the Group is family owned, their annual report is published and audited to the standards expected of any other international business.

CEO Matthias Altendorf emphasised that “When compared to overall industry growth, we held our own”. E+H performed well in Europe, but sales in America declined. Africa and the Middle East experienced solid growth, but in the Asia-Pacific region business stagnated.

Within Europe, the best performances for E+H came from Ireland, Italy and Finland. The best performing sectors in all countries were food & beverage, life sciences, and water & waste water. Overall business declined in oil & gas, chemicals and primary industries like metals. The power and energy industry sectors showed good performance outside Germany, where E+H also felt the effect of weak German exports and some internal restructuring. The oil & gas decline badly affected sales in USA, UK and Norway, although the UK sales centre gave a good performance by aligning efforts with other active market sectors.

Investment continues.

E+H plans for investment and growth continue for the current year. Earlier in the week a new factory extension was opened in Reinach, where flow products are manufactured. (see Read-out Signpost – “Flowmeter output growth requires new facilities” – 5 May 2017).  The journalists were given a tour of the manufacturing facility in Maulberg (D), where a new extension to the production area is in operation, and a new NMi level measurement system calibration facility for radar based systems has just been completed. This is certified suitable for calibration of the Micropilot NMR81 radar system, working at 80GHz, which achieves a +/-0.5mm accuracy over a 30m range, for use in oil storage tanks and oil terminals. There are plans now to extend this calibration facility to allow such calibration out to 40metres, as well as to extend the factory yet further: 1912 people work at E+H Maulburg, and 5200 people in the Basel region, out of the total E+H staff of 13,000.

Analytical measurements

The biggest growth area in E+H is actually in the analytical instruments that use Raman spectroscopy to analyse liquid and gas streams on-line. The major industries now applying this technique are within the life sciences sector, where immediate analysis of input and both gaseous and liquid effluent streams enables much closer control of biochemical and fermentation processes. Indeed the 2017 issue of the E+H corporate magazine “Changes” features a major focus on new applications in the Life Sciences industries.

Other new analytical techniques are developed for monitoring water treatment processing, for example in the new Swiss plants which by law have to have a fourth stage of purification, to remove hormones, phosphorus and other drug residues. The strength of E+H here derives from their strategic decision a few years ago to invest in the process analytical area, particularly in the field of spectroscopy, acquiring Kaiser Optical, Analytik Jena and SpectraSensors. “Our analytics strategy has been validated by the market,” said Matthias Altendorf.

Bundling IIoT activities

The acquisition of German SensAction AG in early 2017 also ties in with Strategy 2020+ which was rolled out last year. The company, headquartered in Coburg (D), manufactures innovative systems for measuring concentrations in liquids. Endress+Hauser is tackling the challenges of digitalization by bundling a number of activities. A new subsidiary in Freiburg in Breisgau,(D), is working exclusively on products, solutions and services related to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The significance of digitalization can also be seen in the growing number of patent registrations. There were 273 first filings in 2016. The intellectual property rights portfolio thus boasts more than 7,000 active patents. R&D spending rose to 7.8 percent of sales. Endress+Hauser introduced 64 new products to the market. “We are investing in innovation for our customers,” underlined the CEO.

Trends in automation.

The focus for E+H sales and their customer base is broadly on automation engineers, so it was interesting to hear Matthias Altendorf comment that the statistics for industrial output show that the Britain has now dropped out of the top 10 countries in terms of automation business activity, whereas they had held a prominent position there some years ago.

The other aspect of interest was that there are distinct differences between countries, in terms of the sex of the engineers involved in the major projects served by E+H. In Germany they are mostly male, whereas the majority of engineers in Turkey are female. In South Korea and India there are high percentages of female engineers (and engineering journalists). Also, by industry, it is noticeable that in the biochemical and life science sectors the engineers are predominantly female.