Management

Packaging machine manufacturer Schubert remains on growth course

Gerhard Schubert GmbH continues its positive growth trend: with an increase in sales of 7.3 per cent and a turnover of 211.5 million euros, the globally recognised market leader in top-loading packaging machines successfully closed its 2018 financial year. For the first time, the manufacturer exceeded the targeted 200 million mark. The Schubert Group also recorded a strong result last year. Compared to the previous year, consolidated group sales increased significantly by 16.4 per cent to a total of 283.9 million euros. This success is not only based on the efforts of 1,332 employees, but also on a consistent growth strategy. Schubert is strengthening its activities in China with the foundation of Schubert Robotics Shanghai, while driving forward future-oriented projects in the realm of digital packaging and the field of robotics.

Peter Gabriel, Commercial Managing Director of Gerhard Schubert GmbH, is very pleased: “We even slightly exceeded our minimum earnings target of seven per cent on total operating performance.” The company currently employs 936 people at its headquarters in Crailsheim. “In the current year, we are planning further growth to sales of 225 million euros,” Gabriel adds. The group of companies has also set itself new objectives: in 2019 it could even exceed the turnover mark of 300 million euros for the first time. Key factors behind the machine manufacturer’s steady upward trend are favourable developments in international markets and continuous investment in new technologies and innovative packaging solutions.

Schubert is driving forward future-oriented projects such as the 3D printing of machine parts in house.

A promising start to the current year

Gabriel assesses the economic outlook for 2019 as positive. “We have a favourable volume of orders. Our range of unprocessed orders is within the target corridor of about six months.” After the first quarter, over 90 per cent of Schubert’s planned annual sales for 2019 are already in the order books. “The very positive development of incoming orders in North America and the renewed strength of Central Europe are also showing encouraging trends,” says Gabriel. The expansion of the service product range and the increase of service personnel also appear to be having a positive effect.

The company will maintain a clear focus on innovation in the future: between eight and ten per cent of annual sales will continue to be invested in research and development.

Schubert North America doubles its turnover

The subsidiaries also reported consistently positive commercial results. Schubert North America was extraordinarily successful with its headquarters in Charlotte as well as its service and sales offices in Dallas, Texas, and Toronto, Canada. At 77.7 million US dollars, sales in 2018 more than doubled compared to the previous year. Hartmut Siegel, Managing Director of Schubert North America since last year, sees the results as another driving force: “We’re on the right track and are winning more and more customers in the North American market with our highly flexible packaging solutions.” The high level of interest we experienced at the last PackExpo in Chicago – especially from companies in the food industry – promises ongoing positive developments in 2019.

New subsidiary Schubert Robotics Shanghai in China

The demand for automated packaging solutions is also high on the other side of the globe: after the USA and France, China is the third largest export market for German food processing and packaging machinery. Schubert has been represented there with its Schubert Robotics Shanghai sales and service location since 2018. Marcel Kiessling, Managing Director of Gerhard Schubert GmbH, reports: “The numerous enquiries and initial orders are already confirming our decision to actively participate in shaping this growth market.”

Since 2018, Schubert has been represented in China, the third largest export market for German food processing and packaging machinery, with its Schubert Robotics Shanghai sales and service location.

Engineering expertise as a service is paying off

The Schubert Packaging Systems subsidiary is also indicating positive figures. Under its umbrella, Schubert-Consulting and Turnkey Services provide the company’s consulting and engineering expertise. The Schubert-Pharma and Schubert-Cosmetics areas are also particularly consulting-intensive. The demand for consulting services and turnkey lines is increasing – especially the integration of various packaging processes is of great importance for customers. In 2018, the Schubert experts were successful once again: sales rose from 50.9 million euros in the previous year to 58.9 million euros.

Innovations and investments for the future

Schubert again lived up to his reputation as an important driving force in the industry in 2018. One example that offers further growth potential is the new Schubert lightline machine series which was introduced at FachPack. The company will continue to focus on innovation in the future: “We have been investing between eight and ten per cent of annual sales in research and development for decades. And we will continue to do so in the next few years,” highlights Ralf Schubert, Managing Partner of Gerhard Schubert GmbH. The Crailsheim location will also benefit from the many positive developments: “Within the next three years, the company will deploy a volume of close to 30 million euros.” In addition to an education and training centre, another production hall will also be built. “Crailsheim offers the best requisites to remain a strong innovator,” says Ralf Schubert. This potential was reflected in a special award in 2018: Gerhard Schubert GmbH was honoured with the “Factory of the Year” award for its innovative strength, its outstanding quality along the entire value chain and the appreciation it shows its employees.

Crailsheim is increasingly focusing its efforts on the digital future of packaging technology. This includes the GRIPS.world digital platform which creates a direct digital link between machine, customer, manufacturer and, in the future, suppliers, and which will enable predictive maintenance, among other things. It is decisive that the machines are securely connected, which Schubert ensures with its GS.Gate Edge Computing Gateway. Further development of the so-called digital twin is also important for the company. It will enable the packaging machine to be displayed as a visual 3D model on the GRIPS.world platform and to be moved in real time directly via the machine control data. “In the future, we will be able to significantly accelerate design and delivery,” explains Ralf Schubert. The Schubert experts are also currently working on the further development of 3D printing of machine parts as well as a collaborating robot.

The Schubert experts are also currently working on the development of a collaborating robot (Cobot).

Moving moments for Schubert

Apart from the commercial figures, 2018 provided Schubert with some inspiring moments. Company founder Gerhard Schubert celebrated his 80th birthday in July. With his approach of solving complex packaging tasks with flexible machines within a modular system, he has been one of the most influential developers in the packaging industry – and still is today. His ideas continue to flow into Schubert’s innovative robots, machines and packaging solutions, which always go a decisive step further.