Innovative products and an advanced digitally-enabled business model have kept FRABA in the black in 2020. The global FRABA Group, whose POSITAL brand is a leading supplier of position sensor and energy harvesting technology, resisted the headwinds from the spread of the corona virus and closed its 2020 financial year (ending December 31) with three percent overall growth. Worldwide sales were almost 40 million euros, while staff remained constant, with 230 employees at locations in Europe, Asia and North America. Profitability was also up, thanks in part to savings from lower travel costs. "The results have been gratifying – even if we fell short of the double-digit growth we had targeted pre-pandemic", says Christian Leeser, majority shareholder and CEO of FRABA.
In a year marked by Covid, POSITAL’s stable development can be largely attributed to a broad portfolio of sensor products used in crisis-resistant industries such as medical equipment, pharmaceuticals manufacture, food industries, and logistics. Importantly, supply chains held and the company’s data-driven production process - based on the concepts of 'mass customization' and 'lot size 1' - ran without interruption. Leeser continues: “A huge plus was that with the company system we established years ago – featuring digitally controlled production, a flat hierarchy, an 'open book policy' for information sharing, and flexible work arrangements with a high proportion of home offices – meant that we could quickly pivot to the ‘new normal’ of virtual workplaces”.
2020 saw the launch of EncoderMatch.com, a product sourcing and order portal that enables maintenance staff to easily acquire replacements for worn out or damaged incremental encoders from many manufacturers. POSITAL also introduced new miniature kit encoders for integrated motor feedback. The mini kits (22 mm diameter) pave the way for multiturn monitoring in small motors and drives - a world first!
FRABA’s confidence in the future is highlighted by several initiatives set to launch in 2021. A new business unit, code-named CREDEMUS, will provide mid-sized manufacturing companies with access to FRABA’s successful cloud-based production and order fulfilment platform. Services will include the implementation of FRABA’s well-proven production management software and consulting support. A second initiative will promote the wider use of Wiegand technology. FRABA has established itself as a major supplier of Wiegand sensors (unique devices that sense and harvest energy from a changing magnetic field) with over one million sensors produced each year. The company, with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, has initiated research aimed at reducing manufacturing costs and increasing energy yields for Wiegand sensors. An internal task force has been charged with identifying innovative applications for Wiegand technology, including inexpensive, energy self-sufficient wireless devices for the Internet of Things and energy harvesting solution for use where wired connections are impractical. This group will be upgraded to a new business unit with the brand name UBITO (from the Latin for “everywhere”). The launch of these new businesses will be accompanied by a corporate rebranding exercise that will include new logos for FRABA and its subsidiaries.
"There is a lot to suggest that 2021 will be a strong and dynamic year," says Leeser enthusiastically. With strong demand already evident in Q1 2021, the FRABA CEO is optimistic: "If material bottlenecks don't spoil our plans, we should be back to double digit growth in 2021!"