Automation specialist B&R is being acquired by ABB. Asked about the implications of this development, Managing Director Hans Wimmer affirms that the company and its current workforce will continue to operate independently.
What changes can B&R customers expect following the ABB acquisition?
Hans Wimmer: For our customers, there will be no changes. B&R will remain an autonomous company that makes its own decisions. Our customers will continue to deal with the same contacts. In the medium and long term, they will benefit from an even broader product portfolio with ABB at our side. ABB‘s robotics offering and their ABB Ability digitalization platform, for instance, perfectly complement our own products.
How does the corporate culture of a mid-sized company like B&R match up with that of a giant like ABB?
Wimmer: Culturally, our two companies are a perfect match – that was clear from the very beginning. B&R will continue to conduct its daily business with the agility, responsiveness and customer focus our partners have come to expect. We will still be providing them with the most innovative solutions on the market. In the background, we will have the support of ABB – including a readiness for substantial investment and increased access to global markets.
B&R has always emphasized proximity to its customers. Will the global sales and support network remain intact?
Wimmer: Absolutely. Our success has been built on two pillars: technical innovation and close, personal relationships with our customers. We‘ll be keeping our locations around the world and continuing to reach into new areas. B&R‘s local presence is a vital part of our company.
How about B&R‘s headquarters in Eggelsberg – any changes there?
Wimmer: We‘ll continue to step up production capacity and add office space to keep pace with our accelerated growth. Other than that, there won‘t be any significant changes. I will continue to lead B&R, supported by the same management teams and same workforce. After all, it‘s our employees who made our success story possible in the first place.
What effect will overlap between the ABB and B&R portfolios have on B&R?
Wimmer: Our combined portfolios represent an enormous added value for our customers, who are increasingly looking for integrated, single-source solutions. Once the acquisition closes, we will work closely with our existing customers to develop and implement a strategy to handle the few cases where there is overlap. Our primary focus will be on maintaining ongoing relationships and ensuring uninterrupted supply for all of our customers. It has already been determined that ABB teams in the areas of PLC and servo drive technology will be integrated into the B&R organization.
How about process automation? Doesn‘t B&R‘s Aprol compete with ABB‘s process control?
Wimmer: Aprol has enjoyed many years of success in the area of factory automation, and that will not be changing. ABB‘s products, on the other hand, are used in large-scale process automation applications. It remains to be seen how the two solutions may tie in together. With both companies‘ products already performing successfully in their respective market segments, however, this is not a top priority.
What are the next steps for B&R going forward?
Wimmer: We‘re currently expanding mechatronic production in Gilgenberg, just a few kilometers from our headquarters in Eggelsberg. Here at our main plant, we‘re in the process of boosting circuit board production capacity by nearly 20% with a new SMT line. Beyond that, we will continue dedicating our full attention to the needs of our customers and working to add exciting new innovations to our portfolio.