The electrical industry is one of the largest industrial sectors in Germany and has a wide-ranging, very dynamic and innovative portfolio. The largest proportion of total sales is in the automation segment, with 28%, ahead of construction elements with 10% and energy technology with 7%. Employing 847,000 people (more than 20% of whom are engineers), the sector is the second largest employer in Germany's processing industry. Thanks to high investments in research and development, seven out of ten companies regularly launch product or process innovations.
The German electrical industry benefits particularly from future trends such as the increasing fusion of production and information technology (Industry 4.0). In order to drive the digitization of production forward, the sector associations of German IT (BITKOM), mechanical engineering (VDMA) and electrical engineering (ZVEI) have come together to set up a platform for the promotion of Industry 4.0.
Bavaria is home to companies from a wide range of different fields of electrical engineering and electronics, such as companies including Infineon Technologies and SEMIKRON in power semiconductors; Rogers Germany (formerly curamik), CeramTec and Kunze Folien in substrate technology; and Siemens in drive technology. Other fields include vehicle electronics from companies such as Robert Bosch, Continental, Liebherr Elektronik and Transtechnik, and the energy storage field in which BMZ is just one of many active companies. This segment is benefiting from the growing trend towards connection of household appliances and the increasing interest in resource efficiency worldwide.
Five Bavarian universities and fourteen universities of applied sciences are training the next generation of qualified academics in electronics and electrical engineering. The range of programmes on offer is supplemented by a wide range of further training courses from providers such as ECPE, OTTI, Bayern Innovativ, VDE and VDI. As well as high quality teaching, the universities also demonstrate excellent expertise in research for this R&D-intensive sector. Companies in the electrical industry/electronics spent a total of EUR 15.2 billion on research and development in Germany in 2014. This is a fifth of all R&D expenditure in Germany's processing industry.
Bavarian clusters including Power Electronics, Mechatronics and Automation, Sensor Technology and Microsystems Technology bring together actors in the sector from the various specialist areas of electronics and electrical engineering. These are predominantly aimed at small and medium-sized companies and universities of applied sciences, but global players from business and science also enhance the networks. The aims of the clusters include promoting research activities in Bavaria by networking business and science, supporting Bavarian companies in strategic market development, and bringing forward the next generation of qualified specialist staff.
At a national level, the Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie e.V. (Central Association of the Electrical Engineering and Electrical Industry, ZVEI) represents the sector's interests. ZVEI has a state office in Bavaria.
Founded in 2003, the industry-led European research network the European Center for Power Electronics e.V. (ECPE) in Nuremberg offers international networking.