Precise Measurements at Every Angle

Interview with Torsten Wegner, Managing Director of Novotechnik Sensor Engineering OHG

Torsten Wegner, Managing Director of Novotechnik Sensor Engineering OHG
Torsten Wegner, Managing Director of Novotechnik Sensor Engineering OHG

As a medium-sized family-owned traditional company, Novotechnik Sensor Engineering OHG, located in Ostfildern in the Stuttgart area, holds its own against strong competitors. Their products measure distances and angles precisely and reliably, also thanks to their own technology innovations. Managing Director Torsten Wegner reports in an interview with Wirtschaftsforum on patented measuring techniques, new opportunities through digitization, and staff shortages.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Wegner, how has Novotechnik developed over the years?

Torsten Wegner: The company was founded in 1947 in Lindau, so it is over 75 years old. Since 1956, we have been based in Ostfildern. In 1984, the company was sold to the company Siedle, which is a leader in the field of door communication. Since the death of Mr. Siedle in 2019, the group has been led by his wife. At our location in Ostfildern, we have development and production. In addition, a company was founded in the USA near Boston in 1987, and another one in Shanghai in 2009. Both are trading organizations. We have a high export quota of just under 75%. In Ostfildern, we employ about 200 people and generate an annual turnover of 35 million EUR.

The headquarters of Novotechnik in Ostfildern-Ruit
The headquarters of Novotechnik in Ostfildern-Ruit

Wirtschaftsforum: Could you explain your products in more detail?

Torsten Wegner: We specialize in displacement and angle measurement. Angle measurement is done by rotation, while displacement measurement measures linear paths. The products are used in, among other things, mechanical engineering – for example, for injection molding machines – or in agricultural technology, as well as in many other applications and industries. Our displacement sensors are used by many well-known manufacturers. We have a large modular system that allows us to meet almost all of our customers' desires in terms of size and execution. Our new products are in the field of contactless sensors. Here technologies are used such as Hall technology, GMR (Giant Magneto Resistance), or induction. Electronic component groups are used, which we install in various housings. The NOVOTURN Multiturn technology we developed is patented and licensed. With it, we manufacture sensors that measure several revolutions in rotation. They work with the magnetic GMR effect. That means, even if the sensor is not powered, the revolutions are automatically recorded. When it is put back into operation, it immediately outputs the correct position (True-Power-on). We are a technology and innovation-driven company.

Wirtschaftsforum: Where does Novotechnik stand in the market today?

Torsten Wegner: In our strongest area of potentiometric displacement sensors, we are one of the world market leaders. But we are also growing strongly in the field of contactless sensors. Here, we are technology leaders in some areas – our Multiturn technology is unique.

Wirtschaftsforum: What, in your opinion, makes Novotechnik so successful?

Torsten Wegner: There are a variety of reasons. Our products are technically very sophisticated yet robust. We are also very good at project business and have excellent service. For example, we can adapt products for applications. Last but not least, we are a reliable partner to our customers with a high degree of delivery reliability.

Novotechnik Position Transducer Displacement Sensor TF1
Displacement Sensor TF1
Novotechnik Position Transducers Angle Sensors
Angle Sensors

Wirtschaftsforum: What role does sustainability play in your company?

Torsten Wegner: Siedle and thus we have a high value understanding not only regarding the environment but also on political topics. For instance, we do not supply military applications. We deal with future topics and have, for example, supplied sensors for a satellite (Cassini-Huygens Mission) that flew to Saturn, to also be at the forefront in research. We are also active in medical technology. Environmental issues are important to us. We were early in the solar market, which, however, has lost its significance for us today. We try to build our products in a way that they can be disassembled again, so that, among other things, screws can be undone. The aluminum can then be separated and melted down, so that it can be recycled.

Wirtschaftsforum: What's happening in your area regarding digitalization?

Torsten Wegner: In production, we have digitalized a lot, for example, using tablets with construction plans and digital development tools. The digital communication has been further ignited by Corona. But also in the sensors, digitalization becomes a topic. Here, it's about predictive maintenance, for example by querying temperature or measuring cycle numbers. In addition, we use digital interfaces to the customer and application lifecycle management tools.

Wirtschaftsforum: How do you see the future development of Novotechnik?

Torsten Wegner: We want to strengthen our market position and further develop contactless sensor technology. Currently, we are struggling with resources, especially in terms of personnel. A shortage of employees slows down growth. For new products, we need many electronics technicians, especially from the field of microelectronics, and software developers. We are in competition with big names. But as a small company, we offer an engineer with passion all the possibilities to realize themselves.