For the first time, a summary overview was given of GROB’s fascinating product range, from the systems and universal machining center business to the varied automation systems, to GROB's globally leading expertise in electromobility, GROB’s digitization technologies and GROB services at the in-house trade fair. How can the GROB world be managed?
It was good and important for us to show our entire range of system machines and universal machining centers – a total of 20 machines with eight new developments – as well as automation solutions. The current customer situation of these highly automated and flexible loading systems – whether robot or pallet storage systems – has also changed. It evolved from large-scale orders with cylinder heads and engine blocks involving large cubical workpieces to a wide range of components in medical technology, aerospace, die and mold industry and mechanical engineering. Ultimately, we were able to show that we at GROB have managed to diversify for different customers and components.
When it comes to digitalization, we know that good digitalization helps sell machines even more successfully. Collecting and analyzing the data that emerge from the processes is a crucial prerequisite for improving in the next project. And whoever uses this has an enormous advantage over the competition. That is why GROB-NET4Industry as well as simulations and compensations in our proprietary software are an enormous competitive advantage. None of these things are visible, but they make a machine and a process perfect.
Of course, the focus of a trade fair is always machines and people. But we could show how GROB's software, GROB-NET4Industry, can currently be used across all products, including e-mobility, making it a market leader. On the subject of compensation, we illustrated how our machines can detect and consequently compensate for changes caused by environmental and machining influences. Overall, this exhibition has exceeded all my high expectations, since we were able to act quite differently.
How have the revenue and orders of GROB Group developed in the past year?
Since September 2021, GROB has seen a brilliant development. The markets recovered somewhat, and the second wave of electromobility also reached us in the fall. Surprisingly, the machining business also increased again at the same time. There are two main activities in machining: first, the new developments in universal machining centers including their automation systems, and second, we could largely compensate for the phasing out of cylinder head and engine block projects with the new F-series and its frame structure components. In total, revenue increased by 15% in the last financial year. We are expecting another 15% for the next fiscal year.
What specific effects does this development have on production, assembly and commissioning?
We are noticing a strong shift toward software, to additional simulation topics and commissioning. Two topics are becoming increasingly important in the realm of control technology: IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operation Technology). In the past, OT accounted for about two-thirds of the business with machines, automation systems, processes and control systems. IT with its software, simulation and virtual commissioning accounted only for about one-third. Today, the world of control technology has clearly shifted towards IT. As a result, we need significantly more software designers for simulations and virtual commissioning and have also hired them en masse – and there is no end in sight, which is often underestimated. That is why we decided in February/March to assemble more than 400 employees with a focus on automation and software in Mindelheim.
Can such activities also be outsourced and purchased externally as a service?
There is a nice side effect for us, as we recognized that our branch office in India is an ideal springboard for finding capable software engineers. We always have six to ten Indian employees in Mindelheim for training and another ten, who already work for us, in Hyderabad. This is working very well, because we can now recruit these key skilled workers from India – also for Bluffton, OH.
A new GROB plant is currently being built in Bangalore, India. It is the second plant in Asia after China and the sixth plant total after the American plants in Brazil and the U.S. as well as the two European plants in Germany and Italy. What are the reasons for this investment?
We have already delivered several large-scale systems and universal machining centers to India, resulting in a nice stock of machines that requires service. In addition, we want to use localized components in India to become more affordable, since we are not competitive with complete deliveries from Germany or China. These components include clamping fixtures, sheet metal enclosures, hydraulic units and control cabinets, which we will produce locally. We will supply a barebones machine that will be completed in India.
Everyone is talking about electromobility, but how has GROB’s product range developed in the field of machining technologies?
After we saw a decline in universal machining centers last year, we have brought our deliveries of universal machining centers back to a high level, almost as in the past. Of course, this is also thanks to the expansion of our product range with 4-axis machines and the small G150.
GROB decided to enter electromobility almost five years ago. Today, GROB is the global market leader in many areas of electromobility. How was that possible so quickly?
It was brutally exhausting and only possible with high morale. It took a lot of energy, perseverance and money.
How do you ensure employees at GROB are on board with this rapid transformation of the company?
It was strenuous, but with every month that they could see that our new products were successful, their enthusiasm for contributing to this topic also increased. A new spirit emerged, which needs to be modeled consistently.
Thank you for the interview!