- Processing Equipment
- Bühler strengthens market positions in 2021
February 21, 2022
Innovations in new products, services, and applications resulted in even stronger market positions of the global technology company Bühler. The company grew order intake by 16%, to more than CHF 3 billion (about USD 3,26 million).
Thanks to its strong global production, supply, and service network, Bühler was able to secure timely deliveries to customers even under difficult conditions. At the same time, Bühler further improved its financial stability with improvements in the net liquidity and the equity ratio.
Stefan Scheiber, CEO of Buhler:
"Our engaged employees in our strong global network allowed us to prove our reliability to our customers and partners. And we clearly strengthened our innovation power."
The key markets of Bühler in the food, feed, and mobility sectors underwent fundamental transitions driven by changing consumer requirements and enabled by new technologies. As a result, the demand for sustainable solutions has clearly increased.
Stefan Scheiber, CEO of Buhler
As part of the long-term innovation strategy of Bühler, spending on R&D over the last 3 years including the “coronavirus years” increased to more than CHF 400 million (about USD 434,6 million) (2021: CHF 141 million (about USD 153,2 million), 5.2% of turnover). Bühler has positioned itself as a key enabler and partner for its customers, supported by collaborations with key partners in industry and science.
New drivetrains and new designs dominated the automotive industry. The new processing technologies of Bühler’s Die Casting business area with high locking force production cells resulted in accelerated growth in this market; the Grinding & Dispersing business area, which established its market segment Battery Solutions a decade ago, experienced a record order intake in 2021, attributable to the boom in lithium-ion batteries for e-mobility.
Similar positive market demand was noticeable in Bühler’s food and feed businesses, for example, processing solutions for plant-based proteins or for dairy alternatives were in high demand and contributed to growth in Bühler’s Value Nutrition business.
New types of chocolates, pralines, and various confectionery and snack products required new applications which the Bühler Consumer Foods segment (which includes the technologies of the former Haas business acquired in 2018) created. Also, Bühler’s Milling Solutions business grew in the wheat and rye and specialty segments, with processing solutions for high-capacity plants as well as for special applications for local niche markets.
Digitalization and cloud-based services acted as key enablers to improve the performances of existing assets of customers all over the world, and this also addressed the need for improved sustainability and CO2 emission reductions.
Strong order intake
On the Group level, order intake increased by 16% to CHF 3 billion (about USD 3,26 million). Because of the time gap in the plant business between order entry and turnover, the upward trend on orders is not yet visible in turnover, which remained stable at CHF 2.7 billion (about USD 2,93 million). The same is true for profitability, which amounted to CHF 158,6 million (about USD 122,8 million), reflecting an EBIT margin of 5.4%.
Net profit amounted to CHF 113 million (about USD 122,8 million), also slightly better than last year. Orders on hand by year-end 2021 increased strongly by 27.2% to CHF 1.9 billion (about USD 2,06 million).
"Our innovations, both for plants and services led to growth in our order book. Our strategy to position ourselves as an innovative solution provider for material transformation has been paying off."All three business segments of Bühler contributed to this positive development. Grains & Food grew orders by 12% to CHF 1.8 billion (about USD 634,8 million), Consumer Foods by 6% to CHF 584 million (about USD 634,8 million); and Advanced Materials showed the strongest growth of 37% to CHF 620 million (about USD 673,9 million).
The business areas with the highest growth rates were Die Casting, Grinding & Dispersing Grain Quality & Supply, and Milling Solutions. From a regional perspective, the Americas, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and India experienced the strongest upswing. China represented the single largest market for Bühler in 2021.
Global network, and passionate people key to success
The global network of Bühler with 30 factories, 103 services stations, and 24 Application & Training Centers across the globe was key to being successful in a very dynamic business environment. This allowed Bühler to secure on-time deliveries, also in times when supply-markets were difficult and logistic chains partly interrupted.
In 2021, the company executed over 2,000 customer projects, and as part of this Bühler produced and delivered around 50,000 machines and key components. This was only possible thanks to the expertise and dedication of Bühler’s employees, and their focus on customer success.
In 2021, Bühler continued to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all employees, while maintaining their focus on training and education. With nearly 12,500 staff across the globe, flexibility and resilience became key success factors in response to public health challenges and all related limitations.
Bühler continued its commitment to its global apprenticeship program and to the development of employees on all levels. The same was true for the training of personnel of customers, both in Bühler schools as well as in dedicated training centers.
It has long been Bühler’s strategy to be in the region for the region with their global Services & Sales organization. This strategy was key to their ability to continue important service offerings at all times for their customers globally. Having experts present in all key markets proved yet again to be a key success factor.
Understanding the challenges their customers were facing in the different countries and continents has allowed Bühler to make decisive steps towards providing an even more customer-centric approach in its service offering.
The recently renewed and expanded services portfolio – including new digital services and Service Level Agreements – grew in orders by 15% to CHF 746 million (about USD 810,9 million). Combined with Bühler’s Single Machine business, the Service business represents about one-third of the overall turnover.
Orders on the online platform "myBühler" grew by 50% to CHF 90 million (about USD 97,8 million); nearly 100 customer sites are now connected to the Bühler Insights platform; and RemoteCare contracts, of which customers make use of online support functions, have increased by a factor of 6 to nearly 400. Nearly 160,000 service orders were carried out.
"It is not only that we grew volume, but that we changed the character of our Service business to specific value additions for our customers, enabling them to improve the performance of existing and new assets. This, at the same time, is a key contributor to improved sustainability in the value chains of our customers."Further strengthening of financial position
Despite the stable turnover volume, Bühler managed to further improve its financial position. Driven by a strong operating cash flow which stood at CHF 256 million (about USD 278,2 million) at year-end, net liquidity more than doubled to CHF 329 million (about USD 357,6 million). Consequently, the equity ratio rose to a strong 47.2%.
Mark Macus Chief Financial Officer of Buhler:
"Our balance sheet is stronger than before the coronavirus crisis. This financial strength gives our customers and stakeholders security in a volatile economic environment and enables us to continue executing our strategy, including strategic investments into assets and innovation. We are a reliable partner for our customers – in critical times, this is more important than ever."
Accelerated impact in 2022
Mark Macus Chief Financial Officer of Buhler
Political tensions, climate change, supply chain issues, and rising inflation continue to be key factors impacting the economic climate, and it is unlikely that these issues will change in the foreseeable future. At the same time, new market opportunities continue to emerge. Bühler considers itself well-positioned to continue a growth path in the running year and beyond.
"During the past two years of coronavirus crisis, we have learned to master the demanding environment with a strong purpose and value orientation, with a positive mindset, and a focus on innovation and on people."The upcoming Bühler Networking Days, which are planned to take place end of June 2022, underpin this positive mindset.
"We look forward to again bringing decision-makers and partners from the global food, feed, and mobility industries together. We would like to create a positive, accelerated, and sustainable impact together with our partners."