The machine safety specialist whose clients include Nestlé, Kraft Foods, Tetra Pak and Bosch Packaging said as part of its turnover, the European countries still represent its most important markets but Asia is also an important growth region.
Michael Mandel, who became MD, K.A. Schmersal, in April, told FoodProductionDaily China is now the second largest export market after the US for German manufacturers of food and packaging machines.
“By turnover, the European countries still represent Schmersal's most important markets,” he said.
“However, there an above-average increase in demand for packaging and food machines from the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). This is why, for example, the Schmersal subsidiary in Brazil is planning a significant expansion of its business in the market segment food production for the year of 2015.
“Two years ago, we significantly expanded our production in China and opened a factory in India. We see real potential for growth here based on the increasing significance of safety engineering in these markets and our on-site presence.
“Overall, we are observing developments in the global safety systems market to capitalise on growth potential where it makes strategic sense.”
The company, which produces safety devices and systems to protect people and machinery recently launched a programmable safety controller, the Protect PSC1, where production involves machines which are linked together and systems consisting of a range of individual components.
Industry 4.0 concepts
According to Mandel, the PSC1 can help the implementation of Industry 4.0 concepts (internet of things) and open up new market opportunities for customers.
He added Schmersal was one of the first companies to tackle the subject of programmable safety controllers and launched a few earlier versions with more limited functionality, most recently in Brazil.
He said the aim of Industry 4.0 concepts is to produce customer-specific products or one-offs cost-efficiently - and to produce smaller batch sizes, future control functions will be distributed across modular, partially decentralised systems which are networked together.
“The development of Protect PSC1 is a significant step forwards for us in this area," added Mandel.
"The digitalisation of virtually all processes in industry offers enormous potential for increasing growth and productivity.
“But this means all systems need to speak the same language across different companies and countries. This is a real challenge.
'Innovate or die'
“Another challenge lies in guaranteeing the security of data exchange to prevent, for example, industrial espionage. To achieve this, Schmersal plays an active role in the harmonisation of standards and norms taking both safety and security factors into consideration.”
According to Mandel, companies need to 'innovate or die'.
“Our customers are thinking about ways to benefit from increasing digitalisation and networking in production and along the supply chain,” he said.
“The global market for food packaging and processing machinery has enjoyed a healthy growth for many years. And this trend is set to continue.
“Reliable availability of systems, hygienic design, temperature resistance and industry-specific certifications such from the FDA, these are just some of the demanding requirements of this industry.”