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Yaskawa takes control at German automation manufacturer

04 December, 2012

The Japanese drives-maker Yaskawa has bought a controlling stake in the German industrial controls manufacturer, Vipa, with the aim of becoming a “total solution provider”. It says that Vipa’s PLCs, I/O modules and HMIs, combined with its own inverter, AC servo and robot products, will allow it to offer a comprehensive automation portfolio to a wide range of markets.

Yaskawa Europe’s CEO, Koichi Takamiya, describes Vipa as a “perfect fit” for Yaskawa. “There are no overlaps in our product portfolios, but they are very complementary with many synergies expected.”

For Vipa’s founder and CEO, Wolfgang Seel, the deal “provides great growth opportunities for Vipa, particularly in Asia and the Americas”.

Yaskawa says it plans to use Vipa’s technological expertise and sales channels to accelerate the growth of its business in Europe – the biggest market for motion controls.

“Beside the synergies resulting from the combined and integrated product portfolio, there are many more benefits for existing and new Yaskawa customers,” suggests Yaskawa Europe president, Manfred Stern (above). He says that the combination of Vipa’s controls expertise with the engineering resources of Yaskawa’s drives, motion and robotics divisions will result in “a strong development team here in Europe, close to our customers and the markets.

“The Vipa acquisition, the recent significant investment in the new headquarters of the robotics division in Germany, and the acquisition of Yaskawa Southern Africa earlier this year, proves Yaskawa’s commitment to the EMEA region as well as its growth expectations for Europe,” Stern adds.

Wolfgang Seel founded Vipa in 1985 as an automation engineering system house. Its initial products included the first PC-based machine operating panels, as well as control and communications modules. The company is perhaps best known for its Speed7 high-speed PLCs, launched in 2003, which use Siemens’ Step 7 programming language. It also offers remote I/O, touchpanel controllers and Scada systems.

Vipa currently employs more than 180 people at its headquarters in Herzogenaurach. Its turnover in 2011 was  €42m. Yaskawa Europe employs 943 people and had sales in 2011 worth €333m. Globally, Yaskawa has annual sales worth more than €3bn.

Both Yaskawa and Vipa have previous experience of working with other companies. Yaskawa had a drives joint venture with Omron for several years, before it was dissolved in 2009. And Vipa developed a slice I/O system with fellow German manufacturer, Lenze. This collaboration has now ended.

The Yaskawa-Vipa deal, announced at the recent SPS/IPC/Drives show in Germany, is subject to clearance by competition authorities.

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