Balluff is extending its digitalization know-how with the acquisition of two companies: the Stuttgart software company iss innovative software services GmbH (iss) and the machine vision pioneer Matrix Vision GmbH (MV) from Oppenweiler, near Stuttgart are now part of the sensor and automation specialist. The relevant contracts were signed in July and August after nearly six months of negotiations. 160 employees will join the family-owned company, and the sites in Stuttgart-Vaihingen and Oppenweiler will be kept on.
The two new companies enhance Balluff’s core competences in two key fields: software development and machine vision. Their integration thus represents a key building-block in the Group’s strategic alignment. As Managing Director Florian Hermle commented: “Linking our network technology with the software expertise of the two companies will particularly improve our capability for supplying integrated automation solutions from one provider. The know-how of iss and Matrix Vision and their employees will help us capitalize on the huge growth opportunities in digitalization faster, while extending our portfolio in the hardware and software areas.”
iss is specialized in tools, test systems, processes and standardization in software development. Like Balluff itself, the main customer group for the company, founded in 1996 and with 60 employees, is the automotive and supply industry. Within the Balluff Group, iss will assume the role of in-house software specialist, as the company from Stuttgart-Vaihingen is highly experienced in the field of embedded systems for the automotive industry. “We already have 25 software developers in our team, but we are focusing on consistently extending our digitalization expertise and we urgently need more qualified personnel to do so. To be more specific, we aim to develop open software platforms that will be needed increasingly in the future in order to offer our customers integrated automation solutions,” said Hermle.
Matrix Vision and its product portfolio enhance the Balluff Group in an area that has so far played a relatively minor role: camera-based sensor systems or machine vision as it is known in the business. Founded in 1986 the company and its 100 employees is specialized in the development and marketing of frame grabbers, standard industrial cameras, video sensors, embedded systems and software in the area of industrial image processing.
“Matrix Vision has been a successful development partner to us for the past four years,” remarked Hermle. “One of our two camera-based product lines is from Matrix Vision. As a result, we already know that we are well-suited to one another and our product lines are optimally matched.”
Software also enjoys a high status at Matrix Vision: Around 30 of its 100 employees are mainly engaged in image processing in the industrial sector. As Hermle explained, “Matrix Vision lets us extend both our product portfolio in the area of camera-based sensor systems and our software development capacities.”
It is an opinion shared by Uwe Furtner, technical managing director of Matrix Vision: “Balluff is an excellent match for us. We have gotten to know each other very well through many years of cooperation in our development partnership, and our product portfolios do not overlap, but rather complement each other perfectly.” Furtner also identifies the great potential for Matrix Vision within the Balluff Group in terms of sales and services for customers. “Many of our customers have production sites worldwide and expect local support from their suppliers. At some point Matrix Vision would have run into difficulties on that score, simply due to our size, but with the worldwide service, sales and logistics network that Balluff brings we now have access to a whole different set of possibilities.”
In 2016 Balluff increased its revenues by 3.3% to EUR 378 million (previous year: EUR 366 million) and began the first half of 2017 very promisingly with revenues up 21.8%. Including the new acquisitions, Balluff employs 3,550 people at 37 sites worldwide. While Balluff acquired 100% ownership of iss innovative software services, 25% of Matrix Vision’s shares remain in the ownership of the previous shareholders.