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Balluff: A Pacesetter in the Field of Innovative Industry Automation

Balluff is a leading global player which operates innovative automation solutions which provides highly efficient quality products and functions as a pacesetter for its customers. It is headquartered in Germany and has also established its offices all over the world. The firm’s approach is to follow its tradition along with customer relationships.
Balluff operates distribution, production and development sites around the globe and is represented by 37 subsidiaries and maintains branches in 68 countries. The company today employees more than 3,600 people and stands for innovative technology, quality and cross-industry experience in industrial automation. This 4th generation family company offers a comprehensive portfolio of the innovative sensor, identification, and network solutions as well as software for integrated system solutions. This guarantees excellent worldwide product availability, and also highquality consulting and customer service.
In early 1921, the company was founded by Gebhard Balluff. Gebhard has started his journey with a mechanical repair shop for bicycles, motorcycles and sewing machines in Neuhausen which then developed into a business for precision, turned and milled parts.
The Balluff vision is “Not just to supply innovative sensor and automation solutions to its clients but to actively drive the future of industrial automation as the pacesetter for Industry 4.0.” 
Foreword of the Leader 
Florian Hermle is one of three Managing Directors of Balluff. He and his colleagues are leading the company with a unified vision towards industrial innovative technologies. Florian graduated with a degree in electronic engineering from the University of Stuttgart. He began his professional career as a sales engineer at Siebert GmbH before joining Balluff in 2004, where he assumed responsibility for various positions in the Sales division. In 2010, Florian became managing director for Sales and Marketing at the Balluff Group. Since 2018 he is also responsible for the Technology Division of the Balluff Group.
Battling Challenges 
Over the years, industrial automation has gone through many technology upgrades due to evolving trends. In the past few decades, The Balluff Group is helping to improve production efficiency and operational improvements in various industries. Information systems and business applications has also matured which helps its client organizations to have more visibility and control.
Florian said, “Automation industry is booming at the moment due to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications and the digital transformation. At this growth phase, it is essential to develop solutions for clients with real added value.”
Balluff Strategies to Tackle Competition Industry strategy trends concentrate on feasible solutions to improving productivity, quality, or other measures of performance. Balluff focuses on two unique major strategic elements: Strengthening its position as a data provider and building upon strong product portfolio to meet customer’s needs.
In terms of software development, Balluff is strengthening its position as a data provider regarding data handling and diagnostics. The basis of IIoT is the availability of all relevant data in real-time, and the ability to create value from the data at any point in time. Balluff sensors and automation solutions ensure this availability. The firm also provides networking technology and connectivity solutions, data which can be easily collected and transported to provide information for analysis to the higher-level systems or cloud.
Florian says “Herewith, we support our customers on their way to a digital production with increased transparency to strengthen their competitiveness.” 
Being industry focused, as opposed to solely product focused, it allows Balluff to see the bigger picture and better meets the demands each industry presents.
Florian also elaborated the company strategy as, “The core of our strategy is customer focus. The industry divisions ensure that the demands of the respective sectors regarding new products and solutions are translated into a relevant customer portfolio. This means our development becomes more focused, faster and better at meeting the needs of these industries.”
Inspirational Steps towards Industrial Automation 
In early 1960s, Balluff successfully entered the automation segment with development and entered into the sensor field. The company entered the segment by producing BNS cam switch. The BNS cam switch was the company’s first inhouse developed sensor on its way to becoming a leading solution provider in industrial automation. At present, the sensor generates more than just a signal, it also creates data.
Florian mentioned industrial aspects as, “Without data, true transparency of production processes and the IIoT itself would hardly be possible. Virtually describing the “system factory” in real time is our inspiration; increasing the competitiveness of our clients is our goal.”
Aiming towards Future Goals
To achieve the necessary transparency for IIoT, Balluff is more focused on software. The combination of automation technology and software competence will help Balluff to create even better and more integrated automation solutions from a single provider.
The company’s goal is to bring technology together, software and external partners in an open ecosystem. By doing so, Balluff simplifies its products and solutions with simple installation, simple usage, and simple maintenance.
Present Industry Scenario 
Balluff believe in the openness of technological revolution and trends under automation. At present, the company is mainly focused on innovative automation. “In a highly connected world, a solo run is doomed to failure. In a collaborative environment, we can be a market leader and successful as a company,” says Florian.
An Enlightening Journey 
Balluff has faced various challenges in its nearly 100 years of company history. Balluff evolved from a mere component manufacturer for switches and sensors to a system provider, beginning in the early 1980s. In 1983, Balluff was the first to apply Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) technologies in the industrial arena and quickly began to broaden its product portfolio. Simultaneously, the company started its global expansion.
In 2006, the company added IO-Link as a connectivity and networking solution. The seamless communication from the sensor to the internet is essential for fast, flexible and efficient production. In 2011, the company´s focus shifted toward solutions involving the integration of hardware and software. To this end, Balluff acquired two companies in 2017: the Stuttgart software company iss innovative software services GmbH (iss) and the machine vision pioneer Matrix Vision GmbH (MV).
Florian Hermle states that “Linking our network technology with the software expertise of these two companies will particularly improve our capability for being a one-stop shop for integrated automation solutions. The know-how of iss and Matrix Vision and their employees will help us leverage the huge growth opportunities in digitalization faster while extending our portfolio in the hardware and software areas.”
In 2018, the company aligned its business organization with a clear focus on the demands of the target industries. The Balluff Group is now divided into seven divisions. Three of these incorporate all the solutions like Mobility, Packaging, Food & Beverage and Machine & Plant Engineering. The other four are Marketing & Sales, Technology, Supply Chain as well as Services, Finance & Quality.
Source: The Companies with Most Disruptive Innovation