Bürkert Australia celebrates 40 years
1. Can you tell us something about how the Bürkert company began and how it got started in Australia?
It was way back in 1980, Malcolm Fraser was PM, Alan Jones won the F1 driver’s championship, Evonne Goolagong won her second Wimbledon, Queensland won the first ever State of Origin, Sale of the Century launched and we were listening to Split Enz sing ‘I Got You’ on the radio. It was that same year, on 8 February, that Bürkert Australia was registered. It was the first Asia-Pacific office for the Bürkert group, with a goal to further develop not just Australia, but the whole region.
Over the following years, Bürkert grew exponentially, servicing customers throughout the APAC region. Thanks to this strong market growth, it was able to develop independent offices in the key Asian countries and finally hand them over to the group in the 1990s. From then Bürkert Australia concentrated on the Pacific region, which has experienced strong growth since that time.
2. How has Bürkert’s range of products and solutions grown over its history?
“Bürkert… you guys do Solenoid Valves” is our most heard sentence, still to this very day. This is because back in 1980, we were predominantly solenoid valves and pneumatic angle seat valves. We used this smaller range to quickly become market leaders in this area, a position we believe we still hold today. However, the ‘Solenoid Valves’ that kicked us off now make up less than 30% of our overall business.
Bürkert globally has developed into a technology leader, always innovating and always one step ahead of the market. This led to many unique inventions like networked pneumatic manifolds, valve control tops, digital positioners and many more. By the year 2000, Bürkert manufactured a whole range of equipment for the process industry, including pressure, temperature, level, flow, analytical and of course our extensive range of valves and process actuation. Around this time we also started to add value to our product offering with system integration and panel building. Today we have an entire department designing and building state-of-the-art networked systems with advanced diagnostics and cloud connectivity.
Our company operates in every market where fluids and gasses are being measured or controlled, but our key focus is in just four areas: Water (treatment, waste treatment, distribution, etc.); Hygienic (food & beverage, pharmaceutical, biomedical, etc.); Gas Handling (mass flow meters, mass flow controllers and complete systems); and Micro (medical machinery, dosing, etc.). At Bürkert, we have a drive to deliver value, not just things. We like to get in early on a project and then challenge the way it has always been done. We strive to deliver ‘Different & Better’ in every project. Whether we utilise technology to come up with a whole new design with massive installation cost savings, or we use mechanical innovation to link components together into a manifold or system to offer a single-point solution.
3. How would you describe the company’s ethos?
Bürkert global is a company of engineers, starting with our CEO at the top and all the way down to the field. Our company has three corporate pillars: Technology & Quality Leadership, Independence and Culture. The first is evident in that almost 10% of our total turnover is reinvested back into R&D. Our independence is in every part of the organisation, from our products and services right through to finance. This is proven by our 74 years of continuous operation under the same entity, with our owners stating often ‘We are not for sale and never will be’. Our culture is the third, but probably most important pillar, as it defines who we are in the market. We strive for a flat and very open organisational structure, innovative and fast acting.
4. What is it like working for Bürkert, and how does the company foster the development of skills, knowledge and personal growth?
An excerpt from our global mission states ‘Customers insist on Bürkert people as unique partners’. It is worth noting that it does not ask that customers insist on our products, our services, our company, or anything else. It states clearly that the success of the company is all about the quality and commitment of our people. Once you get into this mentality, it gets in your blood… which might explain why we have over 50% of our staff with >10 years’ service and negligible staff turnover. We strive to be the best in the market and offer the best solutions. To do this, we must have the best people. To get and keep the best people, you need to look after them.
5. What is Bürkert Australia doing to prepare for the challenges of the future?
Bürkert started planning for the digitised factory over ten years ago and we now feel we are in a market-leading position to bring the company into the future. By utilising our common framework for communications (Efficient Device Integration Platform or EDIP) we can offer hundreds of products that can talk on any field network, to any control system. But not just communicate via these systems, be configurable to deliver Asset Management, Advanced Diagnostics, Change-In-Run and Interoperability, all in order to deliver on the Industry 4.0 or IIOT demands we are already seeing from our customers. Bürkert works to support the integration of these features into our customer’s systems or alternatively delivering such innovation ourselves as a service, right through to cloud-based analytics.
I believe the future for Bürkert is very bright. So much so, I think I will wear shades.
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