Endress+Hauser: IIoT fuels the spirit of innovation
The number of patent applications by the Endress+Hauser Group continues to grow. The globally-active company submitted a record 273 patents in 2016. Around three-fourths involve level, flow and analysis measurement technology, followed by digital communication and instrument diagnosis. The number of invention disclosures also reached an all-time high of 382. “We can be proud of our creative employees. The results point to our innovative strength,” says CEO Matthias Altendorf.
The measurement and automation technology provider traditionally places a high value on research and development. This includes recognizing the company’s inventors at the annual Endress+Hauser Innovators’ Meeting, which is dedicated to honoring new ideas and excellent patents. This year, more than 300 inventors gathered together on 31 March in Merzhausen, Germany, to socialize and share their knowledge.
Industrial Internet of Things is gaining ground
Endress+Hauser currently holds more than 7,000 active property rights. Every invention disclosure is subject to an internal, multistep evaluation process before the patent is submitted, typically taking four months. While the worldwide patent approval rate averages roughly 50 percent, Endress+Hauser boasts a 63 percent rate in Europe, 70 percent in the US and as high as 86 percent in China. The number of approved patents by Endress+Hauser rose 10 percent in all three global markets in 2016.
This increase did not happen on its own. Roughly seven percent of Endress+Hauser’s net sales flows into research and development. A key focus is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). “Innovative products that offer our customers genuine added value represent our best sales argument,” explains Dr Andreas Mayr, Corporate Director Marketing & Technology.
Endress+Hauser already offers instruments that monitor their own status during the process, while making the sensor and process data available via Internet-based platforms. The seamless integration of instruments into the customer’s automation and IT systems permits on-going optimization of maintenance cycles and process controls, among other things.
Endress+Hauser has run its own patent department in the US since 2016 to protect analysis technology developed by the SpectraSensors (Houston, Texas) and Kaiser Optical Systems (Ann Arbor, Michigan) subsidiaries, as well as Endress+Hauser Conducta (Anaheim, California), from imitators. “The US, where we have 850 employees, is one of our most important markets,” says Angelika Andres, head of the Endress+Hauser patent department. “The 50 patents we filed in the first year prove that the transatlantic move was the right decision.”