Bühler organically increased its order intake by 10% to CHF 2.8 billion, its turnover by 9% to CHF 2.7 billion, and its EBIT by 18% to CHF 205 million.
The company said significantly higher capital investment of CHF 100 million on the modernization and expansion of the global production network prepared Bühler for future profitable business development.
“Our innovation power provides the basis for this positive development of our organization,” said Stefan Scheiber, chief executive officer of Bühler.
The results mirror Bühler’s positioning as a provider of integrated process solutions for sustainable mobility and healthy food.
“In 2017, this clear focus has enabled us to continue to expand our technology and market positions and to further increase our competitiveness,” Scheiber said.
Both Bühler businesses contributed to the growth. Grains & Food increased its order intake and turnover by 7% to CHF 2.1 billion and CHF 2 billion, respectively. Advanced Materials boosted its order intake by 21% to CHF 672 million and its turnover by 19% to CHF 640 million.
Growth was also strong in the service business and the business for single machines, which together now account for 32% of total turnover.
The acquisition of the Austrian Haas Group, announced in 2017, was a highlight in the past fiscal year, Bühler said.
The closing of the transaction took place in early 2018. Haas is the global leader in the manufacturing of plants and equipment for making wafers, waffles, cakes, and cookies, with over 1,750 employees and turnover of around €300 million.
The machinery and solutions of the two companies supplement each other excellently. This step opens up great perspectives for Bühler and Haas alike. Both organizations together hold a leading position in the consumer foods market and can offer customers integrated, sustainable, single-source solutions along the entire value chain.
In 2017, Bühler once again increased its investments in research and development by 10% to CHF 119 million (about 4.5% of total turnover) and launched more than 50 innovative technologies and products.
One special focus was on the development of new digital services and business models, of which several have now been rolled out.
Bühler also further expanded its global production network. The focus here was on the opening of a new factory in Changzhou, China, and the modernization of the Swiss manufacturing sites.
The new factory in Changzhou went into service in September 2017 and serves as a global manufacturing and R&D center for animal feed production systems. In terms of manufacturing capacity, Changzhou is one of the three largest production sites that Bühler operates.
The efforts announced in the past year for updating the Swiss locations are on track. The goal of this project, which is projected to be completed within roughly five years, is to transform Uzwil into a globally leading production site in which Industry 4.0 technologies are applied. The first renewal phase in the production and supply chains of mass-produced parts has largely been completed.
Bühler celebrated the groundbreaking of its innovation campus in Uzwil (CUBIC) in September 2017. The innovation campus is made up of two elements: the updated technology labs and the new innovation building.
The campus is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2019. Its purpose is to contribute to the development of innovations for a better world together with partners from industry, academia, NGOs, and start-ups.
“Our market foundations are sound. With our leading technologies and solutions we intend to achieve above-average performance in 2018 as well,” Scheiber said.