Unitechnik celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021. Half a century full of groundbreaking technological leaps. An El Dorado for an automation company. Join us on a little journey.
On May 25, 1971, Bernd Cieplik and Heinz Poppek founded an engineering office for the planning and construction of electrical control systems in Gummersbach - the birth of Unitechnik. After a short time, "home office" is no longer practical and the two gentlemen rent a basement apartment in Ludwigstraße at Steinberg.
Work is plentiful, so employees are hired. Not far from the old location, a store is rented in Gimbornerstrasse. Later, the property gains regional fame as the "Teestube". Thanks to the new copying machines, however, it smells more like ammonia than herbal tea in Unitechnik times.
Four years after the foundation at the latest, the resolution that the company should have no more than eight employees is thrown overboard. The first company building is erected in Robert-Bosch-Straße in the industrial area of Wiehl Bomig (today REIKU). When Heinz Poppek stands in the huge empty factory hall, he feels a little queasy: "How are we ever going to fill it up?"
The control cabinets become larger and larger and the production hall gradually fills up. The first trainees are still called apprentices at that time. Peter Gross (left in the picture) and Georg Kreidt have now been employed at Unitechnik for 44 years.
Significant revolution in automation technology: Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are gradually replacing contactor controllers. With the IPC 300 from Honeywell, Unitechnik is right at the forefront. Of course, good planning is half the battle here, too.
It is the dissatisfaction with the price-performance ratio of the systems available on the market that drives Unitechnik to develop something of its own. An own process computer with the speaking name UTRONIK 990 is created. A specialized further development was later used as a "tower control" for the control of carousels for data carrier cassettes. Our first points of contact with warehousing technology.
Despite an extension, the existing building cannot keep up with the rapid growth. So, once again, new construction is underway. Not a kilometer away on Fritz-Kotz-Strasse, Unitechnik's new home is being built. On the huge property, the buildings seem somehow abandoned. The successful move is celebrated with local Kölsch beer.
A new core competence rounds off Unitechnik's range of services: drive and control technology. This enables Unitechnik to automate ambitious winding and slitting machines.
And once again, growth is taking its toll. More space is needed. But a four-story office building is now really intended to meet demand for the next few years. Among the well-wishers was Werner Becker-Blonigen (2nd from left), the city manager and later mayor of Wiehl. He is still associated with the company today and holds the office of chairman of the advisory board of Unitechnik.
The construction boom demands more and more prefabricated concrete elements. A new mainstay is emerging for Unitechnik. The automation of these production plants is an exciting task for the engineers at Unitechnik: to produce individual elements planned in CAD automatically with the help of robot technology. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the topic picks up even more speed.
Shortly after German reunification, the sister company Unitechnik Automatisierungs GmbH is founded in Eisenhüttenstadt. The maintenance department of the EKO steel mill is to be outsourced. Initiated by personal contacts, the Eisenhüttenstadt automation experts find two courageous entrepreneurs in Wiehl.
As a cooperation partner of Siemens, Unitechnik offers training for the SIMATIC world. First STEP5, later STEP7 and from 2017 TIA Portal. As the only supplier in Germany, Unitechnik offers the Siemens certified SIMATIC technician for TIA Portal in day and evening form.
In addition to PLC controls, computer technology is becoming increasingly important. Production plants have already been controlled in this way for a few years. The birth of our warehouse management system UniWare is 1992 at Kabelwerke Rheydt. The WMS is realized on a MicroVAX.
BAUMA - the largest trade show in the world. Unitechnik is represented with its own booth and presents its master computer for the precast concrete industry. Since this year Unitechnik is represented at every BAUMA.
Unitechnik builds a new office building in Eisenhüttenstadt. Among the well-wishers are the then Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the Minister President of Brandenburg Manfred Stolpe. Managing Director Jürgen Unger (left) explains the development of the Brandenburg showcase company.
Founder Heinz Poppek goes into well-deserved retirement. His son Rainer Poppek, who has already been with the company since 1993, takes over the management responsibility.
Softcarrier in Trierweiler: Completion of the first complete logistics center for which Unitechnik is responsible as general contractor. Unitechnik continues this path consistently until today. In doing so, the company's own warehouse management system UniWare optimally maps the customer's business processes. With regard to the warehouse and conveyor technology used, Unitechnik acts completely independent of manufacturers.
With the retirement of Bernd Cieplik, the baton is finally passed on to the next generation. In the course of this succession, the company will be renamed and will then be called Unitechnik AG. The two juniors Rainer Poppek and Wolfgang Cieplik are supported by the three long-standing executives Bernhard Hoffmann, Knut Kröckel and Torsten Ley. Together they form the executive board of the corporation. Bernd Cieplik and Heinz Poppek accompany the company on the supervisory board.
Within the scope of our cargo project Dubai Flower Center, which we handled with our subsidiary ICM Airport Technics, the branch office Unitechnik ICM FZCO is founded. It still serves as a service and sales base for the Middle East and handles many of our projects. Today, the company is located in the Dubai Airport Freezone and is called Unitechnik FZE.
The LogiMAT trade fair in Stuttgart has been a popular industry meeting place for intralogistics specialists for many years. A good place to celebrate our 40th anniversary. The lady on the beach lounger stands for our motto "UniWare Everywhere".
Foundation of a holding company in which the shareholders Wolfgang Cieplik and Rainer Poppek are active. The holding company controls the group of companies, which consists of the three operating companies in Wiehl, Eisenhüttenstadt and Dubai. It also performs cross-sectional tasks for the entire Group.
The digital twin is becoming increasingly important. During software development, the physical plant is digitally replicated in the form of an emulation. Stefan Blauel, our Head of Informatics, shows here how the UniWare warehouse management system (left screen) interacts with the Digital Twin. In this way, the functions and processes in the office can be tested. Times on site are reduced to a minimum. In retrofit projects, this is an unbeatable advantage.
Eisenhüttenstadt: Eckhardt Wilberg (4th from right) retires and hands over management to Karsten Boldt (3rd from left). The transition is accompanied by Torsten Ley. Mr. Boldt is supported by the executives Katrin Kratzsch, Dietmar Jost and Wolfgang Beitsch. The latter is now retired and is replaced by Thomas Hoffmann.
UniCAM.10 - the master computer for the precast concrete industry is completely redeveloped and sets new standards in the digitalization of production plants. The new software is presented once again at BAUMA.
Unitechnik receives the order from Ethiopian Airlines for the planning and realization of a new cargo terminal at the airport in Addis Ababa. The facility is the largest cargo center in Africa and with € 32 million the largest order for Unitechnik to date. During the Corona pandemic, this facility is the central hub for supplying Africa with relief supplies and vaccines.
Logistics consulting is offered as an independent service. The most modern tools are used for this. Virtual Reality is used to give the customer an impression of his future plant that is as close to reality as possible and to demonstrate how workstations function.
Digitalization and expansion in switchgear construction. Dirk Schütz, head of the switchgear construction department, explains the advantages of the digital twin in the manufacturing process. The excellent quality and UL certification are probably responsible for the fact that this area is growing steadily.
Completion of the largest logistics project in Germany to date. Unitechnik is building a 9-aisle high-bay warehouse with electric overhead conveyor and order picking for the central spare parts center of the CLAAS company in Hamm-Uentrop.
Unitechnik has meanwhile built more than 30 logistics centers as a general contractor and is appreciated by the market as a specialist for ambitious automated logistics facilities. Unitechnik sees itself as a life-time partner for its customers.
The management of Unitechnik Systems GmbH consists of the Managing Director Torsten Ley (in the middle), the Technical Manager Dirk Panske (left) and the Sales Manager Michael Huhn (right).
On May 25, 2021, the 50th anniversary celebration is very small due to the Corona situation. We are postponing the big party with the workforce by one year.