30 Years of Process Control Technology

It started with a dream. Two Siemens engineers, Wolfgang Ebster and Manfred Czepl, first met in 1983 while carrying out commissioning activities at a brewery in Spain. And this was also where their shared dream of establishing a business was born. June 1, 1986 was the day when the ProLeiT Gesellschaft für technologieorientierte Prozessleit- und Steuerungssoftware mbH was established in Erlangen, Germany by Wolfgang Ebster and Manfred Czepl. 

The first contracts – e.g. helping to develop the PLC-based process control systems Braumat and Nahmat – were acquired from Siemens. Two years later, the company started developing its own process control system called ProLeiT OS 155 (based on Siemens control platform S5-155U). This system was unveiled at the automation industry fair Interkama in Düsseldorf in 1989. ProLeiT was now able to present itself as a provider of turn-key automation projects with a unique system. The company managed to acquire key clients, for example Henkel, which has been one of the most successful partnerships over the years. There were additionally many new projects from the brewing industry which were secured with the help of the renowned German companies Huppmann and Tuchenhagen. The business relocated from Erlangen to Herzogenaurach in 1992. In 1994, the dairy company Molkerei Alois Müller took over Sachsenmilch, which had gone bankrupt while building a new facility in Leppersdorf near Dresden, and commissioned ProLeiT to automate the entire plant. This was by far the largest project ProLeiT had ever undertaken during its early years. It generated an annual sales volume of roughly five million German marks. The project was completed on schedule on August 1, 1995. In the following period, cooperation with the Kitzing-based brewhouse specialist Huppmann was intensified and in 1997 it was decided to create a joint venture, brewmaxx, for the worldwide automation of brewing facilities. This was the start of a ten-year journey of success which saw ProLeiT automate over 300 breweries around the world. In 2000, fourteen years after its foundation, ProLeiT converted from a limited liability company (GmbH) to a public company (AG). The new brewing facility of the Grolsch Brewery in Enschede, the Netherlands, opened in 2004 and was the largest and most comprehensive project that ProLeiT had ever carried out. The entire process automation system to ISA S88.01 was implemented using the brewmaxx system family. 

In 2006, ProLeiT AG acquired a 100% share in brewmaxx after purchasing Huppmann's 50% stake and began effectively promoting and marketing the product worldwide. 

Today, the former two-man company employs roughly 400 people around the globe, is based in Herzogenaurach and boasts four national and ten international branch offices. 

More than 1,600 production facilities in over 100 countries currently use software solutions developed by ProLeiT. Besides the brewing industry, a field in which ProLeiT is now a global market leader, the provider of process control systems and MES solutions has also made a name for itself in many other sectors. Manufacturers from the food (e.g. industrial bakeries), beverage (water, soft drinks and fruit juices), pharmaceutical, fine chemicals (e.g. cosmetics) and paint and varnish industries capitalise on solutions from ProLeiT. 

ProLeiT AG is looking to increase the number of staff at its headquarters in Herzogenaurach from the current number of 300 to around 400 over the next five years. Consequently, a decision was taken at the end of 2015 to construct a new office building. The building will incorporate an underground car park and provide 4,400 square metres of office space across four floors. The ground-breaking ceremony will take place at the end of July / start of August this year. The anticipated construction period is 18 months, at a cost of around €10 million. This means ProLeiT is building the foundation needed for its continued growth and will be well equipped to tackle the challenges it may face on the way to becoming the world's leading provider of operational IT systems for the process industry.

ProLeiT AG headquarters in Herzogenaurach