Tuesday 15 January 2019

SUCCESS STORY AVENTICS «An integration strategy that bears fruit»

Aventics is located in Haute-Savoie and was bought over by US based Emerson, last July. It is now speeding up the development of its pneumatic valves and high-tech dedicated solutions.

Aventics belonged to Bosch for a long time; how has the company gone through the major change of the past years?

We belonged to Bosch group for 28 years, until 2014 when they decided to sell off the pneumatic activity. That branch was bought by Triton (German and Scandinavian fund) for 527 M€. The brand Aventics was created from scratch; it generated a 360 M€ turnover with 2100 employees worldwide. We then restructured when the actuator activity was bought back by Bosch in 2016. It led to a redundancy plan and 50 employees who volunteered to leave the company. That takeover generated great reactivity and dynamism with an ever-present top management who paid attention to details.

Was Aventics ready to invest heavily?

It was [absolutely] necessary to revamp the production site after the transfer of the hydraulic activity to Germany. A two-year 7-million euros modernization plan was launched in 2017. Lean manufacturing and logistics were reorganized to gain in terms of efficiency and flexibility. We also invested in the latest 5-axis tooling machines. 

Then, Aventics France diversified in plastic injection, so as to gain added value, didn’t it?

As a leading manufacturer of pneumatic components and smart systems dedicated to production machine automation, it seemed important to keep plastic injection in-house to strengthen our value integration strategy since Bonneville was the Aventics pilot site for pneumatic valves. It is a process that we adapted several years ago to design valves bodies that are usually made of tooled aluminum. We controlled the design (today, 10% of our headcount works in our Design Office) but not the manufacturing. After encountering quality problems with some of our subcontractors, we launched production to meet total success. Early in 2017, we integrated a first machine and recently we bought our third to independently meet our needs. Part of our production is still outsourced but we produce in house the most technical and complicated parts. We have been speeding up the process over the last few months.

Is it fair to say that another Success Story was to sell Aventics to Emerson last Summer?

Last Spring, Triton – our shareholder decided it was time to sell the company. We met 3 companies that were interested in the purchase of Aventics; Emerson was one of them. They were impressed by our know-how and our capacity to innovate both in terms of products and processes in injection and valves. Our latest innovation, the AV03 valve remains the most compact and certainly the most effective valve in the world. Those mechatronics products – designed on our Bonneville site – integrate a pilot that triggers the electromagnetic pulse of the valve. It is a 20-componant part manufactured internally since 2013. Those innovations have contributed to the Aventics take over in July 2018.

Emerson is an industrial group with which you have real synergies: how is the integration taking place? 

Emerson is listed on the New York stock exchange and specializes in control valves, - often referred to as ‘Fluid Control’ – that are used in the process industry, petrochemical, pharmacy, food industry. Our expertise, however, resides in ‘Fluid Power’ i.e. how energy is used as the power to trigger a move. We therefore complement each other. We are integrating both activities and everything is going fast. The Bonneville site activities are strengthened, yet our ambition to innovate remains.

Is the development of dedicated solutions for certain industrial areas another growth vector?

Our Know-how in plastic injection led us to develop a solution for high-pressure PET bottles blowing (20 to 40 bar). We have worked upstream from the project with bottling plants to optimize the process for our customers to gain productivity and for the processes repeatability to be improved.

Do you have the same approach for the medical market?

Again, we design miniaturized solutions, like the microvalves (our latest, the MSV8 has a diameter of barely 8mm) that are used for the manufacturing of highly sophisticated oxygen concentrators. We are just starting but are helped by Emerson that has been present on this market for a long time.

The future looks bright for Aventics considering it produces pneumatics valves used on a large market of machines for production goods as well as dedicated customers solutions.

Our innovation and major breakthroughs in the industry of the future as well as the total command of the production chain are real assets to build on our leadership and gain market shares.

How does your commitment in the 2nd cycle of the Mont Blanc Industries label generate value?

Our commitment to succeeding the 2nd step allowed us to think strategically on all functions of the company and to ask questions on aspects that did not necessarily come to mind. The Management committee was mobilized with the help of the Mont-Blanc Industries cluster to evaluate strengths and weaknesses and to list the priorities to work on. We found the new questionnaire sharper and more relevant, especially with regards to innovation and marketing strategy. The label is really key to the continuous improvement approach. 

Patricia Rey, journalist

Aventics France data

  • HQ : Bonneville (Haute-Savoie)
  • T.O. 2018 : 50 M€
  • Breakdown of the T.O. : 2/3 valves ; 1/3 customers solutions
  • Head count : 300 employees
  • Export : 75 %

201901_AVENTICSAV

Legend: Plastic valve @Aventics France

201901_AVENTICSEPIOT

Legend: Étienne Piot @Aventics France