By Matjaž Matošec
Named after its founder, Dipl. Ing. Hans Bibus, the family-managed business is now in the third generation. By continuously building on the foundations laid in 1947, the Swiss-headquartered group of companies has gone from strength to strength, witnessing continuous growth and geographic expansion. Over the decades, it has established itself as a leading supplier of high-quality industrial products, components, and system solutions. Thanks to its reliability and commitment to the highest of industry standards, it has earned the trust and loyalty of customers from across Europe and Asia.
Today, BIBUS Holding AG is a multinational enterprise that operates in 29 countries and employs more than 1,100 people. Its activities are divided into three main business segments: technology, materials, and electronics. Collectively, they cover a broad spectrum of products, including pneumatics, hydraulics, mechatronics, environmental technologies, a comprehensive range of both standard and special metals in all supply forms and versions, robust industrial computers, servers, network products, displays, storage media, and electronic components. While the product offerings of more than 50 BIBUS Group subsidiaries are extremely diverse, they all share the same core competencies: engineering, logistics and services – to differing degrees, depending on their respective business segment.
Excellence in metals supply
With its origins as a steel-trading firm, BIBUS Holding AG has the know-how of metals supply written in its DNA. The companies forming its materials segment include Sauter Edelstahl, Sauter Metall, S+D Metals, BIBUS Metals, Hartmann Materials, and their subsidiaries. In addition to stainless steels, duplex materials, and aluminium, their combined stock represents one of the largest inventories of high-performance materials in Europe, including nickel, titanium, and their alloys. Coming from all corners of industry, their customers enjoy reliable service and flexible just-in-time deliveries, which are made possible by a widespread network of logistics partners. Strong focus on forming and maintaining close relationships with suppliers and clients alike is one of the key ingredients of the BIBUS success story, creating long-term partnerships built on trust and loyalty. Mr. Uwe Friebertshäuser, Senior Business Development Manager for S+D and Bibus Metals AG, encapsulates the BIBUS business philosophy as follows: “We deliver the right product reliably and economically – exactly when you need it.”
Supporting nascent H2 sector
Recognising an opportunity is the first step towards success, while foresight, courage, and proactive investment are what it takes to realise it. Seeing the enormous growth potential of the fast-emerging green hydrogen sector as one such opportunity, the materials business segment of BIBUS Holding has recently expanded its already impressive stock of high-performance metals to include nickel and titanium products of specific dimensions used in certain electrolyser and fuel cells technologies. By doing so, the Group is entering a nascent market whose future development will be determined not only by policies, investments, and innovation, but also by the availability of critical materials. Coordinating these efforts and building bridges between various BIBUS subsidiaries are Mr. Friebertshäuser and Dr. Tracey Holmes, Technical & Business Development Manager at BIBUS Metals Group.
“Almost everyone becoming involved in the hydrogen business these days can claim to be a pioneer in what they do, and we see ourselves as being one, too, to be frank,” begins Mr. Friebertshäuser. “Although we are not developing a new product, a good amount of research is required to establish what materials – and in what sizes – are required for applications such as electrolysers and full cells, where the diversity of technologies is significant and the level of standardisation still very limited. We have done our homework to determine the likely material requirements of electrolyser and fuel cell manufacturers. To be completely honest, there was also an element of speculation in some of the choices we had to made regarding sizes. However, we are confident that this was a risk worth taking – and one that our clients will value. By making hard-to-get materials readily available at this early stage of hydrogen sector development, we are filling a critical niche in the marketplace, and it is this move that has a pioneering character.”
Within the BIBUS Group, S+D Metals is currently spearheading the efforts to tap into the potential of this new market. As a German-based company, it has a strong customer base in the manufacturing powerhouse of Europe, providing it with useful insights as well as with a certain level of confidence about the size of the opportunity at hand. “The German automotive industry alone, for instance, is an enormous potential driver of fuel cell demand,” states Mr. Friebertshäuser. “Add to that the surging demand for electrolysers and you get a sense of the size of the potential market. Of course, we fully realise that once the demand and production capacity have reached a certain level, some manufacturers will procure the materials directly from the mills. Until that moment, however, we will be happily meeting the needs of our existing and new customers, supplying them with products that few other companies stock, thus supporting their success.”
More than just a stockist
Complementing the impressive BIBUS stock of materials and semi-finished products is a comprehensive range of services, continuously optimised to accommodate even the most demanding client needs. To begin with, their customers are served by experienced product specialists with extensive industry experience, allowing them to make the best decisions possible during the material selection stage of the design process. Following the solution-oriented consulting phase, materials stored in start-of-the-art steel and metals logistics facilities are processed using the latest machinery to perform all types of cutting, shearing, sawing, forging, heat treatment, grinding, brushing, and polishing, coating, restamping, etc. All processes during this stage can be done according to customer drawings, enabling the provision of bespoke solutions to specific customer requirements. Finally, a widespread network of reliable logistics partners serves as a guarantee for timely delivery.
Each of the BIBUS Group companies specialises in a particular area of product and service expertise and possesses specific local competencies. However, it is their combined know-how, resources, and partnerships what constitutes the Group’s greatest asset. All BIBUS companies and subsidiaries have access to the sum total of collective capabilities, creating cross-company synergies that drive and enable their motto: Supporting Your Success.