STRONG OPERATING BUSINESS
The Advanced Materials business developed exceptionally and recorded a record year in 2017. Order intake increased substantially by 21% to CHF 672 million; and turnover rose strongly by 19% to CHF 640 million. This shows that Advanced Materials was the growth engine for the Bühler Group and, with the focus on mobility over the past years, it has become the second pillar together with the food processing area. About 60% of revenues for Advanced Materials stem from the automotive industry.
STRONG OPERATING BUSINESS
Grinding & Dispersing
After multiple years of joint research and development with its Chinese customer Lishen, followed by a first pilot line in 2015, Grinding & Dispersing finally made a breakthrough in its new battery business in 2017. The business area successfully launched a new process for manufacturing electrode slurries. The process enables maximization of the energy density of the batteries and is also more economical. Lishen successfully started up a total of 10 production lines and honored Bühler with its Best Supplier Award.
In addition, the business area also won contracts from other customers, which made the battery business into a robust and quickly expanding market for Grinding & Dispersing. The business area also continued to grow in other application fields, such as digital printing for personalized applications and, especially, color printing for the packaging industry – also driven by innovative technologies such as Macro-Media and MicroMedia, along with integrated plant construction competences for efficient solutions in wet grinding.
After several years of strong growth and moving up to become the global market leader, Die Casting increased its order intake to a high level and revenues rose considerably again. The Ecoline machine series was a particular growth driver, with more than 100 orders logged. Three factors are decisive in addition to leading technical solutions. First, Die Casting is the only supplier in all three relevant production regions of the automotive industry – Europe, America, and China – and has its own assembly plants, service and application centers. It can thus support internationally active processors globally.
Second, the business area has extensive application knowledge about structural aluminum components and can assist its customers with this demanding application. Third, Die Casting is also benefiting from the rapid growth of e-mobility, because more and more parts are being made of light alloys to cut down on weight for these vehicles.
With more than 400 Carat machines installed for large and complex components as well as over 400 installed Ecoline machines, Bühler has the strongest global presence. To continue this growth curve and increase service quality for customers, Die Casting opened a global parts center in Alzenau, Germany. The business area also commissioned an application and technology center in China in order to offer training as well as customer-specific application development in the region. In the US, Die Casting installed the largest-ever die-casting machine built by Bühler with a locking force of 4,500 tons for its customer Mercury Marine.
Leybold Optics was the most successful business area of the Group in 2017 in terms of growth. After its big turnaround and a very promising 2016, Leybold Optics was able to organically increase its incoming orders by more than 50%. Plants for large-scale architectural glass coating, for which Leybold Optics now has a global market share of about 60%, decisively contributed to this.
More intense market cultivation and extensive service offers based on innovative technologies led to success. Solutions for precision coating of sensors, camera lenses, and screens for the automotive industry and entertainment electronics were also significant. The increasing emergence of driver-assisted systems, mobile devices, and devices equipped with sensors and IoT solutions is generating a demand that Bühler can exploit with its ultra precise and economical machines for coatings on the nanometer scale.
To further respond to current trends, Bühler opened an application center at Leybold Optics in Alzenau, Germany. It offers different vacuum-coating machines, ranging from small to large rigid substrates; to plastic films; to deposition, such as evaporation with various types of plasma assistance; to sputtering, including ion-beam sputtering.