Festo is not a small company. Their annual turnover is 2.24 billion Euros, they have over 300,000 customers, and 16,200 employees, not counting the robot lawnmowers that look like large trilobites trundling over the grass at the headquarters and technical center.
Festo, like many of the mittelstand companies, spends heavily on Research and Development: 7%, as opposed to the 2% which is more usual in an American automation company. They also devote 1.5% of revenue each year to education and training.
Festo has 11 "global production centers" or factories, with 5 regional, and 26 national, service centers.
Unusually, they divide what they do into "automation" and "didactic" (teaching) functions. The education and training isn't entirely philanthropic though, as they achieve about 100 million Euros in revenue from it each year.
Festo doesn't want to compete with the "big six" process automation companies, they want to work with them, and they do. The displays of process automation systems were full of Endress+Hauser transmitters-- flow, level, temperature, pressure, and one of their test areas had a flow control system with two ABB vortex and one ABB swirl meters in the stand.
We were shown amazing things. I will be posting for the rest of the week about it.
Two of the high points of yesterday's tour were the "additive manufacturing" center, with 3D printers capable of making hundreds of parts in very short times, up to stainless steel and aluminum materials of construction; and the 3D virtual reality lab where they showed us how they model the flow behavior of valves to make them quieter, more efficient and more accurate.
I will be tweeting, too. The hashtag is #ipcPA (international press conference, Process Automation).