“Stay Connected.” That tagline cleverly references the key goal that Murrelektronik, a family-owned manufacturer in the automation technology industry, has for its work with customers and employees and the communities it serves. Franz Hafner founded Murrelektronik in 1975 in Oppenweiler, Germany, when he began selling a single product, the RC-501/220, a surge suppression module for Siemens contactors that he produced in his garage.
Today, the company is known for its innovative and top-quality control system products and solutions, excellent customer service, vast market experience, and teamwork culture. It remains headquartered in Oppenweiler and employs more than 3,000 people in five production plants in Germany, the Czech Republic, China, and the United States. It also operates 24 branch offices throughout the world and 11 logistics centers in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Helping Customers Connect and Compete
Since its beginning, Murrelektronik has focused on making connections for customers via its products and people. Its mission is to optimize machine and plant control system installations and increase customers’ competitive advantage. The company specializes in decentralization and strengthening the connection between the control cabinet and the sensors and actuators in field machines and systems.
“We focus on creating lasting connections, both technically and personally,” said Jürgen Zeltwanger, Chief Sales Officer. “We extend this principle beyond the technical aspects of our products by maintaining close proximity to our customers and their needs. We use that connection and information to provide flexible, efficient, and reliable control systems solutions that help customers reduce their overall costs. Our goal is to make installations that are faster to install, user friendly, and reduce errors.”
Murrelektronik offers individual consultations regarding its products, system design solutions, and software integration. Planning projects together helps decrease customers’ budgets and costs and thus increases their competitiveness. The company also offers 24/7 customer technical and sales support, as well as an online shop and app.
Innovative and Top-Quality Products
Murrelektronik uses its close connection to customers to determine what products are needed and how to produce top-quality offerings to meet those needs. It offers four ranges of control products used in warehousing and logistics, food and beverage, machine tool manufacturing, paper, automotive, airport logistics, and offshore industries. The company offers 73,000 products and keeps more than one million products in stock for fast distribution to customers.
Murrelektronik’s electronic components for control cabinets include EMC filters, suppression technology, interface, power supplies, and power distribution products. Its suppression modules help prevent damage when load voltage spikes occur. Its power supply modules include transformers to adjust voltages and rectified power supplies to transform AC voltage into smoothed DC voltage. Its redundancy and buffer modules protect power supplies from interferences and monitors currents and loads. Its interface technology converts, amplifies, and transfers signals and includes relays, rectifiers, and tree switches.
Murrelektronik’s interfacesinclude service interface, cable entry systems, and signal towers. They connect the control cabinet to the field and connect analysis or programming devices to the cabinet. Its connection technologyincludes connectors, cables, and cordsets to connect sensors and actuators.
Its I/O systems include fieldbus technology that connects sensors and actuators to a higher control level, allowing for cost-effective installation and automation solutions in machines and plants. Its distribution systems include passive distribution boxes which provide a convenient way to connect sensors and actuators to the control cabinet. They are used in warehouses and packaging and handling facilities as well as in heavy duty applications like metal and wood working or polymer processing plants, food and beverage facilities, and mobile outdoor applications.
Murrelektronik makes a variety of round, valve, and motor connectors for use in industrial applications, and AutomationDirect sells many of these. It also manufactures cordsets for linear drives, stepper motors, power supply lines for field bus modules, servo drives, and AC/DC motors up to 7.5 KW. The cordsets are molded with highly resistant, halogen-free PUR material, making them suitable for harsh industrial applications.
“We test all our products 100%,” said Sebastian Richter, Head of Product Management – Connectors. “Before leaving the plant, our products undergo electrical, high-voltage, functional testing, contact assignment, short-circuit, and visual testing.”
Murrelektronik produces 97% of its products in-house and operates an in-house test center and EMC laboratory. In addition, it is EN ISO 9001 Quality Management certified and has 13 Kaizen coordinators in its five production locations. Employees regularly complete continuous improvement training which helps the company achieve its goal of fast, flexible, and innovative processes.
Connected with Communities Throughout the World
Murrelektronik feels a strong connection with the communities in which it operates. The company offers internship and apprenticeship programs and supports a wide range of charities, initiatives, and social projects.
“Our factories and branches are key employers and sponsors in their communities,” said Silke Krüger-Schubert, Head of Corporate Communications. “We are a reliable partner that focuses on long-term projects. Our aim is to give clubs, business partners, and projects a degree of security with our funding. In this way, we promote sustainable development.”
In São Paulo, Brazil, Murrelektronik operates a logistics center and demonstrates its community connection and commitment via how it supports Casa do Zezinho, the “House of Little Joseph.” The organization is a refuge for the children of the city that works to break the cycle of poverty, crime, and drugs. It provides 1,500 children a warm meal every day and helps them learn to read, write, and do mathematics.
“Our claim ‘stay connected – stay in touch’ takes on a new dimension in São Paulo and means a special obligation for us,” said Fernando Belmonte, Managing Director Murrelektronik do Brazil. “We have supported the Casa do Zezinho for many years, and the children and the house are close to our hearts. Franz Hafner established contact with the group in 1995 and, like his daughter Caroline Hafner-Pinnel, is in regular contact with the people there. We are committed to helping, and every donation goes there without deductions.”
In addition, since 1982, Murrelektronik has been the main sponsor of the HC Oppenweiler/Backnang and TV Oppenweiler 1911 handball teams, the largest sports club in the town where the company was founded.
“These teams play an important role in the lives of the locals, many of whom are our employees,” Krüger-Schubert said. “We are proud to sponsor them and cheer them on.”
In the United States, Murrelektronik supports a variety of local charities including Home of Hope, Annandale Village, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Gwinnett. The company’s support includes collecting school supplies, adopting a family for the holidays, doing crafts and games with the villagers one Saturday a month (pre-Covid) at Annandale, participating as a team in Annandale’s 5k, working the Sip and Swine event for Home of Hope, and more.
Murrelektronik’s employees are the foundation of its success, said Harald Merk, Director of HR. The company takes pride in offering careers in many different areas as well as a multi-cultural working environment and a global network with international teams. Currently, employees from more than 20 counties work in the U.S. office.
In Germany, the company offers two options for “interns.” The first is an apprenticeship program that a person enters after high school and begins to learn a career, like a plumbing or electrical apprentice would do in the U.S. The second is a work/study program in which a student spends one semester in college taking classes and then works at Murrelektronik for the next one. This process continues for approximately five years until the student graduates. Almost all of the interns move to full time jobs at Murrelektronik in their field of study or the department in which they have been interning. Interns often go to the U.S. to do a project, such as examining packing and shipping lines for efficiency or studying the feasibility and requirements for a Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) cabinet in a distributor or customer location. Currently, Murrelektronik has 50 trainees in 12 apprenticeships/work study programs.
The company also offers a tuition reimbursement program in the U.S. for full time employees who have been with the company for at least one year. In addition, it reimburses gym membership fees, provided the employee makes the required number of visits to the gym each month.
Looking Toward the Next 40 Years
As Murrelektronik looks to the future, it is building on its successful history of product and solutions innovation to serve customers’ needs. Early in 2021, the company was recognized as a “First Team” Honoree – First Team Leadership in Automation by Automation World, the third straight year it has received this award. In 2020, the company earned the Control Design Reader’s Choice Award for Cable. It received that award in 2015 also.
In Germany, Murrelektronik has earned multiple innovation awards during the past few years, including:
- 2019 Top Innovator Award from Top 100, an organization that recognizes companies for outstanding innovative power and success,
- 2019 German Innovation Award for the Cube67 Diagnostic Gateway which makes accessing data in installations very easy, and
- Industriepreis 2018 award in the electrical engineering category for the Cube67 Diagnostic Gateway.
To facilitate continued growth, the company is implementing a plan to triple production capacity in the U.S. to support customers in Mexico and the U.S. It also continues to support custom and market-specific demands in the U.S. via the design and engineering teams it added three years ago.
Murrelektronik will also continue to stay close with its customers and communities all over the world, said Zeltwanger, the Chief Sales Officer. “Staying connected has been a key part of our company from our earliest days. We are building on the connections we have made and look forward to creating new ones as we grow in the future.”