Piab Group Acquires COVAL, IB to Extend Materials Handling Reach

Piab is adding COVAL's vacuum technology and IB's additive manufacturing expertise to its portfolio.

Piab Group

Piab provides the piCOBOT system for small industrial robots and cobots.
Piab, which provides robotic grippers, is adding COVAL's vacuum automation systems and IB Verfahrens- und Anlagentechnik's bulk materials conveyance to its offerings.

Robotic grasping provider Piab AB this week announced that it has acquired COVAL SAS, a leading vendor of vacuum automation components and systems. It has also entered into an agreement to acquire IB Verfahrens- und Anlagentechnik GmbH, which develops and builds systems for filling, emptying, metering, and conveying bulk materials.

“COVAL has a perfect strategic fit for our business,” said Gustav Falconer, president of Piab's vacuum automation division. “The market for industrial automation is growing rapidly, and we foresee very strong growth opportunities with the addition of COVAL´s competitive portfolio and highly skilled employees.”

Täby, Sweden-based Piab Group has sold progressive gripping, lifting, and moving systems since 1951. The company said automation can eliminate resource waste and worker injuries. It reported sales of about 2.5 billion SEK ($240 million U.S.).

Piab said it has more than 1,000 employees and four divisions serving customers in more than 100 countries from a network of subsidiaries and channel partners. The company recently released the Foam Lip Wide (FLIW) for its piGRIP series to handle irregular or unstructured surfaces and four new suction cups in its Automotive series.

Vacuum veteran COVAL joins Piab

“Piab Group´s long history of innovation in vacuum technology and global presence will allow for COVAL to further develop and provide a long-term home for our family business and its employees,” stated Michel Cecchin, owner and CEO of COVAL. “By joining the Piab Group, COVAL joins an excellent global company, a leading innovator in the vacuum technology market, and together, we will strengthen our leading position in the automation industry.”

For more than 35 years, COVAL has offered vacuum systems for the packaging, automotive, plastics, and aeronautics industries. The Montélier, France-based company, whose U.S. division is in Raleigh, N.C., said its vacuum cups, pumps, and grippers can handle objects ranging in size and material for better safety and productivity.

COVAL said it has 135 employees, a presence in 60 countries, and a turnover of €23 million ($25.1 million). Piab said it expects COVAL to bring experienced and skilled employees, a strong brand known of its high quality, and new customers.

“We are very much looking forward to bringing the COVAL team into the Piab family, and we see a great culture fit routed in a strong passion for the future of robotics and automation,” said Peter Laurin, CEO of Piab Group. “With this strategic move, we are confident in our ability to provide our customers with cutting-edge automation solutions, while strengthening our competitive advantage in the market.”

Piab said the transaction is fully funded through a combination of external and internal sources.

COVAL joins Piab

France-based COVAL has about 135 employees. Source: Piab Group

IB adds custom, additive manufacturing expertise

IB Verfahrens- und Anlagentechnik said it has developed customer-specific, turnkey systems for handling bulk materials since 2007. The Lage, Germany-based company added that it has about 30 employees and decades of experience in conveyor technology for conventional materials handling.

“Together with Piab Group—who is known as a world market leader in vacuum transport solutions—a strong team comes into being for a strong future,” said Frank Scholz, owner and managing director of IB. “We are convinced that both companies will profit from this acquisition and look forward to our journey with great confidence.”

“As an experienced system construction company, we guarantee professional and customer-oriented completion of individual projects,” it said. “Our customers benefit from direct points of contact first and foremost, from in-house production and short communication and decision routes.”

“The offering, the competence, and the know-how that IB brings, is a game-changer for our Vacuum Conveying Division,” said Floris Rouw, president of Piab's Vacuum Conveying Division. “With this addition, we will be able to serve both our existing and new customers even better and create robust growth opportunities.”

In addition, IB said it is an established partner in the additive manufacturing industry, for which it provides ultrasonic sieving and reclaim machines. Piab said IB's portfolio will enable it to offer full powder-handling solutions, particularly in the food, pharmaceuticals, and chemical industries.

IB to be acquired by Piab

IB's powder-handling expertise will join Piab's product portfolio. Source: Piab Group

Piab said it expects to finalize the IB acquisition shortly, and it was also fully funded through internal sources.

The global market for robotic grippers could experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.9%, expanding from $1.32 billion in 2022 to $3.03 billion by 2030, according to Next Move Strategy Consulting. The research firm attributed the growth to the emergence of smart technologies to enhance productivity and efficiency, growing usage of collaborative robots, and increasing adoption of robotic grippers across industries.

Handling delicate objects is a very challenging application the automation industry is facing, noted Piab.

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Piab Group

Piab provides the piCOBOT system for small industrial robots and cobots.

Robot Technologies