New building at Kennispark Enschede facilitates substantial growth Xsens
This month the foundation will be laid for a new building, right next to the current head office of Xsens on the Pantheon. With a modern production environment and more workplaces for (new) employees. The expansion frees Xsens from the space crisis and enables the company to grow significantly. The takeover by, and collaboration with, mCube in 2017 has already given Xsens an enormous impulse. The number of employees has doubled to 120 and sales increased from $13 million in 2017 to $19 million in 2019. “It depends heavily on the development of the coronavirus, of course, but we are counting on sales of more than $25 million,” says general manager Boele de Bie of Xsens.
Xsens, founded in 2000 as a spin-off of the University of Twente, is a world player in the field of 3D motion tracking. The motion sensors register movements extremely accurately and transmit the collected data wirelessly to a computer. Sensors are used in machines and (unmanned) vehicles but also register and analyse movements of the human body. The innovative technology is supported by advanced software. All actions and movements can be converted into realistic animations. Xsens has gained a lot of fame and appreciation by developing a suit with wireless sensors (MVN Suit). The ‘smart suits’ give a better insight into the movements of the human body and are used in the entertainment industry, biomechanics, healthcare and sports.
The demand for Xsens’ sensors and software is growing worldwide. The growth is relatively largest in Asia. A new facility was opened in Shanghai last year, where engineers are working on new product development and from where production in China is supported. In 2018, an office in Hong Kong was already opened for Asian customers and distributors. With a similar branch in Bangalore (India), the move to the southern part of Asia was also made last year. The activities in North, Central and South America have been managed from California (US) for more than ten years. A new, larger building was taken into use here last year. The move enables the company to better facilitate rapid growth.
As a result of the stormy development, the company has outgrown its current premises on the Pantheon in Enschede. “We are now using every square centimetre, as it were, but the limit has really been reached,” explains Boele de Bie. With the physical expansion the production in particular gets more space. The ground floor of the new building will be fitted out in accordance with the most modern requirements. In the atrium, which connects the old and the new building, larger companies can come together for presentations, for example. The floor above will be furnished as a staff room. As soon as the new building is completed, the existing building in the Kennispark will also be modernised.
A conscious decision was made to expand production capacity in the Netherlands, explains Jeroen Weijts, senior operations manager. “For pragmatic reasons, many of our components are made in China, but on the other hand, we see that the Netherlands, and certainly Twente, is a stable region for high-tech production. In the Twente region, Xsens works closely together with, for example, the University of Twente, Roessingh rehabilitation centre and other innovative companies and knowledge institutions. The scientific basis, which formed the basis for the start of Xsens, is therefore still present. “Innovation is actually the core business of our company”, explains De Bie. “In this way, our products become better and better and new possibilities arise. The expectation is that the ever smarter motion sensors will also be embraced by the middle and small business and consumer markets. Particularly in the health and sports market Xsens sees great opportunities for the use of ‘motion capturing’.
Out of the box
The new building in Enschede will enable the workforce to grow to 200 jobs. It is striking that Xsens has relatively few problems in filling new vacancies. The number of respondents is many times greater than the number of vacancies. The familiarity of Xsens helps in this respect. “We are the Rolls Royce in the motion capturing sector”, says De Bie. “We are looking for smart people who can think ‘out of the box’,” explains HR manager Astrid Hauskens. “They come to work in an open and friendly culture with many different nationalities. The working language is English.” To prevent employees from feeling like a small radar in a larger whole, an organizational model with several business units was created. Within such a department, individual employees have a lot of responsibility and control options. “This way you remain part of your own success,” explains Jeroen Weijts.
The Xsens-team feeling also takes shape outside working hours. We have our own running club and regularly organise (sports) activities together, such as a movie night, go-karting and mountain climbing. “We want to push the boundaries not only within the company but also outside,” explains De Bie. The sporty character is emphasized by sponsoring the FBK-Games and the Enschede Marathon.