Schmersal Group celebrates its 70 year Jubilee

The owner managed Schmersal group, with its headquarters in Wuppertal, Germany, celebrates its 70 year Jubilee this year. The specialist for machine safety with 1,750 employees worldwide, had a total turnover in 2014 of around € 210 million. In the Jubilee Year the company is on course for growth. Schmersal will continue to expand its presence in international markets and the leading position as a supplier of technical safety solutions.

he foundation stone for the Schmersal Group was laid in August 1945 by the brothers Kurt Andreas Schmersal, a textile merchant, and Ernst Schmersal, a master mechanic. The company K.A. Schmersal first produced components for lifts in Wuppertal. The demand for these products was large: The city of Wuppertal was destroyed after the war to 66% and the lifts in many public buildings had to be repaired or put back into operation. At the beginning of the 50s Schmersal increasingly produced mechanical switching devices, above all end switches for the flourishing construction industry.

Continuous development of innovations

Schmersal invested early in the development of new, innovative products: The first Schmersal patent was published 60 years ago, on 3rd November 1955, and was a switch for DC systems. Schmersal was one of the first companies to develop and produce electronic proximity switches in the 70s. As milestones in the machinery safety is considered to be the safety switches AZ 15 and AZ 16, which were patented in 1981 and since then has been sold millions of times. Overall, Schmersal has applied for patents for almost 300 of their inventions. Today the company focuses its development efforts on electromechanical and electronic safety switches, as well as on safety controllers. In autumn 2014 Schmersal presented a new programmable, modular safety controller PSC1, which is multi-functional and can be optimally adapted to the respective application. Also in the area of the cooperative work systems, where man and robots come together, Schmersal had already delivered basic development work for the safe motion monitoring at the end of the 90s, which are applied in many robot applications worldwide today. 

The trend toward globalization was recognized at an early stage

Schmersal recognized the trend toward globalization at an early stage and began consequently with the internationalization of marketing, consulting, and production.  Already in 1974, the subsidiary company ACE Schmersal was founded in Brazil. 

The first production site in China, the Schmersal Industrial Switchgear Co. Ltd. in Shanghai, was called into being in 1999. In India, the company has had its own production plant since 2013. 

Since the 90s Schmersal has also increased its production sites in Germany by takeovers, these include:

  • 1998: Purchase of ELAN Schaltelemente GmbH & Co. KG in Wettenberg (Hesse)
  • 2008: Acquisition of Safety Control GmbH in Mühldorf (Bavaria)
  • 2013: Acquisition of Böhnke + Partner Steuerungssysteme GmbH in Bergisch Gladbach (North-Rhine Westphalia)

Schmersal today has over a total of seven production sites in Europe, Asia and South America, and is represented with subsidiaries and representative offices in more than 60 countries worldwide.

Three family generations has dominated the company for seventy years

Three generations have dominated the company in its seventy years of existence. In the first generation it was the brothers Kurt Andreas and Ernst Schmersal who led the company then. In 1982 the founders retired from the management of the company and transferred the management responsibility of the company to their sons Stefan and Heinz Schmersal. In 2007 Philip Schmersal entered the management of the Schmersal group as the third generation.

Fit for the future: Schmersal as a global systems supplier

The Schmersal Group develops and manufactures more than 25,000 different switching devices today and with this range of products is one of the largest suppliers worldwide. In the field of machine safety the Schmersal Group is one of the international market and component leaders. And that with a sound economic basis: Also, during the last year the turnover could be increased by approximately 7 percent. The number of global employees rose in 2014 to 1750. "With this success alone we do not want to rest, we continue with our reorganisation strategy that we decided on some years ago. It is our objective, to further expand our market position as a system and solution provider," said Philip Schmersal, Managing Director of the Schmersal group. "We want to offer our customers integrated solutions. This also includes the Safety Consulting, the expert consultancy to our customers, and the application engineering where the implementation of safety solutions is the most important. We accompany our customers from first contact through to commissioning".

Schmersal will therefore strengthen the Safety Consulting organisation in 2015: A worldwide network of qualified safety engineers are going to assist the Schmersal customers with risk assessments of machines and the selection of suitable protection equipment among other things. 

"In future, as a systems supplier we will be taking care of more globally active customers and expanding our presence in international markets," says Philip Schmersal. "We want to continue to grow as a company. Therefore we are watching closely how the global market for safety systems is developing, and expand where it makes strategic sense.”

Context Column

Then – and now: Schmersal on trade fairs in the 60’s and on the SPS IPC Drives in 2014.