Piab acquires SAS Automation - makes strategic entry into the mechanical gripping segment

#EQT Update #EQT VII #Piab

Yesterday, Piab announced the acquisition of US-based SAS Automation – a leading developer and manufacturer of mechanical grippers and robotic end-of-arm tooling systems. The strategic add-on complements Piab’s existing product offering and strengthens its relevance to the customer base.

EQT VII portfolio company Piab is a global technology leader within industrial automation and robot components. Founded in 1951 by the Swedish Tell family, Piab supplies a broad set of vacuum ejectors, conveyors and suction cups for lifting and holding objects in automated factory processes. Piab’s products drive productivity and energy-efficiency, and improve the working environments for customers across a broad range of end-markets.

Underlying megatrends, including an increasing number of manufacturing sectors prone for automation, higher wages and productivity requirements, alongside a rapidly growing global e-commerce market are all supporting an increasing demand for automation and robotization in the smart factory. The company’s line-critical products are used across multiple industries, primarily within packaging, automotive, food and pharmaceuticals. The importance of cost-efficiency and work environment within these industries underpin Piab’s strong growth trajectory.

“Since EQT VII acquired Piab in January 2016, management has accelerated measures to strengthen Piab’s position, both organically and through the acquisitions of adjacent technology leaders Kenos and Vaculex. With the three completed add-ons so far including SAS Automation, we see clear revenue synergies enabled by offering an expanded product portfolio through the existing channel network. Piab will now be able to respond to customers demand for a single supplier of both vacuum-based and mechanical gripping technology”, says Harry Klagsbrun, Partner and Investment Advisor to EQT VII.

The eastern growth opportunity

With the add-on of SAS Automation, Piab takes an important step forward to becoming a one-stop gripper shop, while in parallel fortifying its presence across North America. Similarly, Piab has strengthened the management team in Asia and are accelerating growth in the region, particularly in China. As the country is expected to be the number one global consumer of industrial and collaborative robot systems going forward, it is natural that it is one of Piab’s focus markets for continued global expansion.

“China alone expects to enjoy a 20% annual growth of industrial robots over the foreseeable future, which is one of many reasons for why we feel confident that the market hold significant growth potential for our business. In order to be able to capture this growth, we have over the last year scaled up our operations with both strengthened regional and local leadership”, says Anders Lindqvist, CEO at Piab.

Investments in R&D and commercial excellence

With some 60 years of experience, Piab is the frontrunner in a highly fragmented market. With more than 50% of sales generated from patented products, Piab enjoys a technology leadership with innovative, high-quality and mission-critical products in an environment where customers continuously require new technology solutions. Supported by EQT VII, Piab continues to drive for advancements in R&D with the ambition to future-proof the business through an increasingly diversified product offering.

Recent launches across segments include a new vacuum conveyor dedicated to fragile products, food contact suction cups and the new piCOMPACT all-in-one vacuum ejector. The piCOMPACT with IO-link demonstrates Piab’s strong potential within Industry 4.0. Condition information is sent real-time to the operator enabling predictive maintenance and auto-orders. Looking ahead, Piab has a well-stocked product pipeline with new launches across all product segments.

In addition to leadership improvements across Asia, Piab’s management team has recently been further strengthened with senior and second-level leadership in the US, Europe, and Latin America. To truly stay local-with-locals and secure the necessary expertise on the ground, Piab has reinforced its regional commercial organization in the US, Germany, Brazil and Spain, both through a growing direct sales force as well as a broader distributor network.

Piab’s entry into mechanical gripping through the acquisition of SAS Automation, the acceleration of growth in China, as well as increased investments into R&D and commercial excellence are all key parts in delivering on Piab’s long-term strategy, which is well on track.