BEP Europe (BEPE), a Burke Porter Group company, has perfected its skills in the development of machines, branching out into the development of autonomous driving as well as innovation in life sciences and advanced manufacturing
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Tom Arnold
Burke Porter Group’s intriguing approach to industry progression is not to become inventors, but to closely follow trends and disruptions to the market to ready themselves for forthcoming advancements.
In order to achieve this, the Group has accomplished strategic acquisitions before integrating these companies to become active leaders in new high-growth niches. This creates extensive and sustainable growth opportunities for the future of the Company, while maintaining a strong market-leading position in the automotive industry.
As part of the Burke Porter Group, BEP Europe (BEPE) works together with other companies within the group to build intelligent machines for automotive, life science and advanced manufacturing markets. Until 2009 BEPE focused exclusively on end-of-line test installations for automotive assembly plants, with some of its biggest customers including PSA and the VW Group.
“Today our position in the market is a far more diverse one, although end-of-line tests still remain our main revenue generator,” begins Ward Van de Walle, Chief Technology Officer at Burke Porter Group. “Alongside BEP Europe’s original customers, the larger group now works with the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Fiat and JLR, offering full vehicle End-of-Line testing, axle testing and component testing.”
In addition to its automotive test installations, BEP Europe is skilled in the development of new machine technology. The majority of its R&D (research and development) work in recent years was based on the Organic Rankine Cycle – converting waste heat into electricity – with these machines commercialised under the brand name, E-Rational as part of its constantly developing portfolio.
As previously mentioned, Burke Porter Group (BPG) focuses its energy on both organic growth and growth through company acquisitions. The past two years has seen the acquisition of six companies, including Universal Balancing, CIMAT, Epic Equipment, Kleinknecht, Korvis and Lismar, all of which have brought new product lines and technologies to the Company.
“For our automotive business line, we have invested in new product development with a main focus on autonomous driving, the electrification of powertrain in cars and NVH testing,” explains Van de Walle. “There are vast amounts of disruptions today that are driven solely by technology and that is a factor that we are attempting to tackle in our work.”
Recently this work has included real-time sensor feedback, specifically the inspection and calibration of driver assistance systems, which is fuelling the autonomous revolution with innovations including driverless cars, trucks, drones and auto-piloted planes. There is a huge margin for growth in intelligent sensors and driver assistance systems, providing BEP with more opportunities for end-of-line testing.
“The demand for autonomous innovation is also supported by the ever-thinning line between robots and humans,” continues Van de Walle. “Robots are becoming more intelligent, sensitive and collaborative. With such rapid development, humans are increasingly better equipped to live alongside them.”
The Company has a long history in the automotive domain, adding huge amounts of value to the industry through serving large-scale OEM’s and Tier 1 suppliers across the globe.
“The requirements placed upon car platforms from our customers appear to be globally converging at present,” continues Van de Walle. “Next to passenger cars we are now also focusing on off-road equipment and agricultural equipment; features such as autonomous driving are already being accepted into these niche markets.
“Our focus at BPG has always been, first and foremost, on customer service, adapting and developing our services to meet their requirements. Wherever they are located in the world we aim, to assist them quickly and preferably in their native language.”
The Company has ensured this through having more than 30 locations worldwide, emphasising the need to remain innovative while investing in new products and business development.
“The combined mindset at BPG is incredibly entrepreneurial, allowing us to diversify into other business segments that we expect will provide us with interesting growth opportunities and that will utilise our extensive intelligent machine building qualities,” Van de Walle adds.
BPG’s aforementioned entrepreneurial mindset has driven its diversification into the design and production of life science equipment, as well as the advanced manufacturing market.
“As you can gather our Company is engineering-driven, with our employees as our most valuable asset,” affirms Van de Walle. “They consistently come up with new ideas that enable us to solve the problems our customers are facing.
“It’s incredibly difficult to find people that hold the right skill-set, making training and retention even more important. By the speed we are growing, there is a continuous need to look into expanding our personnel.”
Working with business partners that support the Company through the addition of invaluable knowledge is part of the strategy. This enables BPG to support its growth, preferably looking for global partnerships that can serve all the regions in which BPG is active.
Van de Walle adds: “We are an incredibly unique Company, still relatively small with around 1,100 employees but globally active in the production of high-tech equipment.”
With thanks to the support of its parent company and well-established network, BEP Europe works as an especially agile SME and has the flexibility to serve customers globally taking advantage of the 32 BPG locations.
“During the past few years, our Company has transformed from an almost purely automotive niche player into a more diversified entity that can provide high-tech intelligent machines for life science, advanced manufacturing and automotive markets,” concludes Van de Walle. “Since this diversification, our revenue has more than tripled and we are confident that continuing in that manner we will become a billion-dollar company.
“During the next three to five years we will keep focusing on cutting-edge technologies, while remaining the engineering-driven business that has brought us success up to this point in time.”