Automation specialist looks forward to future challenges
It may be just a coincidence that futronic’s 50th anniversary coincides with the International Year of Glass. But the timing couldn’t be better. After all, the futronic story is closely linked to the industrial production of container glass. In this anniversary year, Managing Director Michael Preuss looks back on an eventful past, a challenging present and a promising future.
futronic turns 50! What an achievement! An anniversary like this obviously needs to be celebrated in a fitting manner. The original plan was to invite business partners and associates, suppliers and customers from all over the world plus the company’s employees and people from the local region, of course, to toast our round-number birthday. Yet even though the current situation would theoretically allow that kind of celebration again, it’s simply not on at the moment. Even less so since the terrible war broke out in Ukraine. As futronic sees it, there’s no option but to celebrate this major anniversary in a quiet way. “We’ll make up for it one day, I promise”, says Michael Preuss, the firm’s Managing Director since 2004. For the moment, he is happy to look back on an eventful but illustrious past. To face up to a challenging present. And to look forward to a promising future.
futronic was established in Tettnang in 1972 by General Manager Gerhard Funk, who also gave the company its name, and Production Manager Günther Scharpf. The two of them were joined not long after by Horst Dieter Reinsch, who was responsible for the technical side. futronic had nothing to do with glass production in the beginning. On the contrary, the first orders came from the food processing sector and it wasn’t long before the trio at the helm were also handling projects from customers in other industries such as machine and plant manufacturing or medical, lab and process technology.
It was in 1978 that futronic secured its first contract to design a control system for glass machines from Oberland Glas in Bad Wurzach, now Verallia. This system, known as MP-ST, marked the entry of computer technology into glass production, displacing transistor logic and relays which were no longer up to the challenge. It was a groundbreaking invention that put futronic a huge step ahead of the competition. The MP-ST paved the way for futronic’s success story as a top supplier of automation solutions for the container glass industry.
Move to new premises in 2008 – a milestone in futronic’s history
futronic grew strongly over the next few years and in 1982 moved from the centre of Tettnang to new premises in Schäferhof Industrial Park. The original “garage shop” had turned into a fully-fledged manufacturer with almost eighty staff. In 1986, futronic was bought up by Oberland Glas AG of Bad Wurzach, and the founding founders stepped down. The control system specialist has been a subsidiary of Jetter AG of Ludwigsburg since 2006. futronic subsequently continued on the success path, survived the economic crisis relatively unscathed and moved again in 2008 – to a building complex in Bürgermoos Industrial Park, where the firm still has its home today. “It was an important step”, Preuss recalls, “mainly because it enabled us to develop, evolve and grow”.
It wasn’t long before the company needed more space again and in 2013, they invested almost one million euros in a new extension. Just five years later, futronic acquired a flat-roofed building on an adjacent site, creating more shop floor capacity to house a harness manufacturing machine, equipment for making small devices and part of its development activities.
Success as a collective achievement by every single employee
Today, futronic GmbH is one of the world’s leading providers of complex automation solutions for plant and equipment manufacturers. The emphasis is on the container glass, tableware, bulk materials and handling & assembly industries – with a constant eye on the ever-increasing demand for cost-effectiveness, product quality, productivity and energy efficiency.
“We’ve realised umpteen exciting and unusual projects throughout the years. After all, that’s our core business: I wouldn't want to single out anything in particular”, Preuss comments. “And it’s really great that we’ll be celebrating our 50th anniversary this year!” He confesses that steering the company in a dynamic environment through all the crises of the last five decades, through all the ups and downs – of which there have been more than a few – moving it forward, keeping it on course for growth, responding to new trends and realigning the business again and again has probably been the greatest achievement of all. “And it hasn’t been the achievement of just one person, because we’re not a family firm and we never have been”, Preuss explains. “Credit is due to everyone here at futronic – to every single employee for their collective contribution to our success. We have every reason to be proud of them.”
Looking forward to the next ten years
Looking forward, Preuss is very confident “that we can continue on our growth journey in spite of the difficult situation right now”. And of course the company also wants to evolve technologically, strategically and structurally. It’s common knowledge that standing still means going backwards. By that he means on the one hand expanding and consolidating futronic’s position as one of the world’s leading providers of complex automation solutions for container glass machines and equipment. And on the other, increasingly applying “our knowledge and experience in industrial automation to other sectors too. We’ve set our sights high and we’re looking forward to the next ten years.”