Igus to invest in 247 new motion plastics products in 2024

  • Industry News
  • Apr 17,24
The German firm, which recorded Euro 1.136 billion turnover in 2023, increased its customer base by 6.7 per cent.
Igus to invest in 247 new motion plastics products in 2024

After two years of rapid growth totalling 57 per cent, the Cologne (Germany) headquartered motion plastics specialist igus was able to maintain its billion-euro turnover in 2023 despite the challenging global economic situation. In 2024, the company will invest in 247 new motion plastics products and digital services. More favourable and better solutions for lubrication-free movements, low-cost automation and CO2-reducing products are the focal points. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) has now made it possible to bundle hundreds of thousands of test data and millions of applications from 60 years of igus experience into a simple solution finder for the "Zero Lubrication" goal: the igusGO app. 433 million euros of investment in the last three years, around half of it in Germany alone, is accelerating this technical progress and delivery from stock worldwide. This trend is set to continue in 2024.

Despite the tense global economic situation, igus increased the number of its active customers by 6.7 per cent in 2023 and achieved an annual turnover of Euro 1.136 billion. This means that the company only recorded a slight decrease of 1.65 per cent compared to the previous year. "Declines in regular customers due to the economic situation were largely offset by new customers and new applications. We are confident that we will continue our growth in 2024. The first quarter was difficult, but the annual forecast for 2024 is good," said Tobias Vogel, Managing Director of Bearings and Linear Technology at igus. 

Michael Blass, Managing Director of e-chain systems at igus, added, "With major projects such as the shore power supply for container ships in the Port of Hamburg, we are looking positively to the future. The requirements and wishes of our customers are constantly driving us to create new internal start-ups. We combine our core technology of motion plastics with digitalisation and AI. We are well on the way to establishing digitalisation as an equal technology at igus. This was the only way to achieve successes such as our smart plastics, the RBTX robot marketplace and the igusGO app for zero lubrication."

247 innovations: From solutions for battery production to autonomous robotic arms
This year, igus is presenting 247 new products at the Hannover Messe. Among this, high-load bearings for heavy machinery, crucial for the "Zero Lubrication" range. Three new materials, which have already proven themselves with users such as excavator manufacturers, are coming onto the market. "’igus, make the excavator lubrication-free!' can already be realised via voice control in the igusGO app. This is where material technologies and AI come together and offer simple and secure access to a wealth of information and suggestions for all industry professionals around the world via AI chat," said Tobias Vogel.

The app is based on hundreds of thousands of test data and millions of applications from 60 years of igus successes. But sustainability goes beyond avoiding lubrication: with a new slewing ring bearing made of 50 per cent wood and 50 per cent high-performance plastic, igus is taking the integration of renewable raw materials into industrial production one step further. The wide range of PTFE- and PFAS-free solutions for linear and plain bearings and the comprehensive 4-year guarantee for all igus products with online service life calculation also represent progress towards genuine sustainability. The strategy of many companies to build battery factories in Europe is also sustainable. Batteries are manufactured in dry rooms, and this requires machine components that are lubrication-free and do not become brittle. Igus now supplies a wide range of products for this purpose, all tested in specially built dry labs. And the fact that state-of-the-art automation can be affordable for almost any factory is demonstrated by the "ReBeL on Wheels". The ReBeL robotic arm on a low-cost autonomous vehicle as a solution for SMEs is available from Euro 17,999, while the education version for universities and schools is available for Euro 14,699.

Euro 433 million in investments in three years - the pace continues
The fact that igus is constantly expanding the motion plastics product world, always with the aim of "improving what moves", is a consequence of the long-term corporate strategy. Following the breakthrough to the first billion euros in sales in 2022, igus set a new target: one million industrial customers per year. At the time, this represented a 5.5-fold increase. 

"We are therefore pleased that we have at least come a little closer to this goal in a difficult year. We have invested Euro 433 million in this plan over the last three years, Euro 210 million of which at the Cologne site,” said Michael Blass. This includes the new 22,000 sq m factory, machines, systems and IT innovations, and the GO Zero Lubrication apps for example. The figure includes a strategic doubling of global stocks of catalogue parts. "In lieu of the technological revolution, customers want deliveries within 1-3 days and at favourable prices," explained Blass. "Thanks to our investments, we are doing this better than ever before, even worldwide." 

The median delivery time worldwide is currently six days, including numerous engineering projects with long lead times. Investments will continue at the same pace in 2024 and in Germany. New machines and automation solutions are purchased for the new factory in Cologne where many of the internal start-ups are based, forming a motion plastics tech centre. Additionally, the conversion of a 2,800 square metre office building into a further start-up and training centre which will be open to customers, will soon begin. Expansions are continuing around the world, with a focus on fast delivery times. Decisions with construction measures have already been made for China, Taiwan, India, Italy, Spain, Poland, the USA, Mexico and Turkey. Tobias Vogel: "We are investing wherever our customers are in the world and in Germany."

Igus’ lubrication-free, high-performance polymers improve technology and reduce costs wherever things move. In energy supplies, highly flexible cables, plain and linear bearings as well as lead screw technology made of tribo-polymers, igus is the worldwide market leader. The family-run company based in Cologne, Germany, is represented in 31 countries and employs 4,600 people across the globe. In recent years, the company has expanded by creating internal startups, e.g. for ball bearings, robot drives, 3D printing, the RBTX platform for Lean Robotics and intelligent "smart plastics" for Industry 4.0. Among the most important environmental investments are the "chainge" programme – recycling of used e-chains - and the participation in an enterprise that produces oil from plastic waste.

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