Automation components market in Bulgaria

Automation & RoboticsTechnical ArticlesSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 2/2024 • 04.06.2024

Bulgaria has a long history and established traditions in the automation segment. The roots of the sector go all the way back to the 1960s, when the intensive development of the electronic industry began, as part of the country’s economic development strategy and as a reflection of the massive national strive to implement the achievements of the scientific and technical revolution. Today, as an integral part of the European Union, the country has an extensive and thriving automation components market.


Development trends

The automation and robotics sector in Bulgaria managed to survive the global crisis in production, trade and supply chains related to the COVID boom and today is on the rise again, marking a new era for the high-tech ecosystem in the country. The automation components market is strongly influenced by global trends, such as the fight against climate change and the strive towards energy efficiency and sustainability, the ubiquitous digitalization and the transition to Industry 4.0 and beyond. More than half of the firms in Bulgaria (56%) used at least one advanced digital technology in 2023 and make more use of the Internet of Things (42%) and robotics (28%) than other types of solutions, EIB reports. Over the next three years, Bulgarian firms will prioritise investment in capacity expansion (32%), very similar to capacity replacement (31%). This is expected to positively impact the automation components market as automation and robotics are considered to be essential means of both increasing efficiency and productivity as well as improving the sustainability of enterprises.

A current report of the International Trade Administration (ITA), states that cloud technologies, Big Data and Internet of Things are growing technology segments in the Bulgarian ICT and automation sector, and emerging sub-sectors include cybersecurity, automotive electronics, intelligent transportation, smart city technologies, etc. In addition, many government tender opportunities exist for EU-mandated IT and ICT solutions: automation, computers, peripherals, data centers, security operation centers, 5G technologies/IoT, software, servers and other hardware technologies.


Еcosystem specifics

According to InvestBulgaria Agency (IBA), the robotics and mechatronics sector is among the leading branches of the local industry. There are over 100 operating companies in this industry with more than 6700 employees. The total annual turnover of the sector is around EUR 555 million and the productivity grows by 6% year-on-year, IBA informs. Most of the production of the sector is intended for export.

The current automation components market in Bulgaria covers products for both industrial, (including process automation) and building/home automation. Segmentation by technology encompasses electrical, electromechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic components, etc. By product type the automation components market consists of multiple different kinds of hardware: programmable logic controllers (PLCs), motors, drives, actuators, sensors, IoT and IIoT devices, safety components, human-machine interfaces (HMIs), discrete and analog I/O modules, machine vision cameras and systems, network and communication components, power distribution components and power supplies, switches, relays, linear motion components, motion control components, encoders, robots, grippers, robot peripherals, etc.

All those types of products find broad application in virtually every branch of modern industry, namely in the automotive sector, mechanical engineering and machine building, food and beverage production, chemical and pharmaceuticals, packaging, 3D printing, metalworking, electronics and semiconductor manufacturing, plastics production, and many others.

The automation sector in Bulgaria encompasses a growing number of local and international companies, including manufacturers, traders, distributors, integrators, customers and users of a wide range of products in the automation, mechatronics and robotics segment. Multiple national and regional enterprises and a large number of European, Asian and global producers are represented on the Bulgarian market through own and subsidiary companies, local branches and offices, commercial partners, etc. Among them are: ABB, Beckhoff, Bosch Rexroth, Camozzi, Cognex, Emerson, Endress+Hauser, Fanuc, Festo, GE, Hiwin, Honeywell, ifm electronic, igus, KUKA, Lenze, Mitsubishi Electric, Murrelektronik, Omron, Parker, Pepperl+Fuchs, Pilz, Phoenix Contact, Rittal, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, Schunk, Sick, Siemens, SMC, TME, Wago, Weidmueller, Wika, Yaskawa, Yokogawa, and many others.

By profile, organizations in the Bulgarian automation ecosystem include startups, scaleups and established local and international/multinational companies, R&D centers, universities, etc. The majority of the companies are headquartered in the capital Sofia. Nevertheless, across the whole country and in most of the main industrial zones are located multiple production plants, research facilities and sales offices of national and foreign brands.


Companies in the sector (A-L)

In this section we will list some of the most prominent companies in the sector. ABB operates in Bulgaria with a central office in Sofia and four branches of the company in the country, developing four core businesses – Power & Electrical, Process Automation, Drives and Robotics & Discrete Automation.

Akhnaton offers products and complete engineering solutions in the field of factory automation, process control and machine automation. The company offers a comprehensive portfolio of safety systems, industrial robotics cells, machine vision, building automation systems, etc. Among its key partners are Mitsubishi Electric, Congnex, Sick, Murrelektronik, Weintek, and so on.

Aqua Jet 2011 offers on the Bulgarian market the products of the Austrian manufacturer of electric actuators Schiebel Antriebstechnik. Atics is an official distributor of numerous international companies in the field of industrial automation, including Leuze electronics, Wachendorff Automation, Laumas elettronica, etc. ATRI Robotics is an official representative and offers equipment in the field of automation of leading global companies such as Yaskawa and Axelent.

Belimo Bulgaria’s range includes automation devices for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, sensors for building automation, universal controllers, etc. Belopitov represents Balluff on the local market, offering its broad catalogue of sensors, switches, identification and machine vision systems and so on.

Betelgeus is specialized in providing complete solutions in the area of primary and secondary coding, marking, labeling, packaging, product identification, etc. BG Robots specializes in robotics, automation, engineering and manufacturing. The company is an official system partner of KUKA and SprutCAM reseller in the country. Bibus Bulgaria is engaged in trading components, systems and comprehensive solutions in the field of industrial automation, including hydraulics, pneumatics, mechatronics, etc.

Binzel Bulgaria is an official representative of the German company Abicor Binzel, offering high quality welding equipment, including components and solutions for robotic welding.

Biuro Za Razwitie Technika is active in the sales of industrial equipment, linear and electric drives, industrial and mobile hydraulics, pneumatic components, servo drives and servo motors, controllers and automation systems.

Comicon is specialized in the development, supply and implementation of products and services for industrial, building and home automation. Endrich Bauelemente Vertriebs is a German company offering in Bulgaria a broad selection of electronic components and industrial automation-related products, such as capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors, power modules, sensors, relays, and more.

Fanuc Bulgaria in 2021 celebrated 40 years on the Bulgarian market, offering and integrating various industrial automation solutions such as CNC, industrial robots, and robotic machines.

Festo Production – Festo’s local subsidiary, produces components for factory automation, flow and pressure sensors, communication modules and controllers, electric drives, servo motors, proportional valves and many others.

Gemamex is specialized in the import and trade with instrumentation and control components and systems for industrial automation from Omron, Yaskawa, INVT, LinMot, Estun, etc.

Global-Test is a general representative of testo – a global manufacturer of portable appliances for measuring physical and chemical values, VEGA – producer of radar sensors, electronic levelers and level sensors, etc. Hennlich is active in the distribution of industrial equipment in different fields, such as automation, electrical equipment, test and measurement solutions, mechanical systems, machines, and more.

ifm electronic develops, produces and sells sensors, controllers, software and systems for industrial automation and digitalization, aiming at optimisation of technical processes by means of sensing, networking and control systems. IOW Bulgaria, part of Axel Johnson International, is active in the fields of automation, mechanical systems and machines and offers a wide range of industrial automation solutions, fluid handling, lifting and transport equipment, drive technologies, etc.

LD is as a Bulgarian-German company, focused on the import and trade of machines and automation components. Lentis Technologies is an engineering company, specialized in advanced engineering project execution, offering solutions to automate quality inspection processes across diverse manufacturing settings.

Lenze Zadvizhvashta Tehnika – the Bulgarian subsidiary of Lenze, offers a broad range of automation components, including AC, servo and geared motors, frequency and servo inverters, controllers, HMIs, I/O modules, etc. LogiSoft is specialized in intralogistics and advanced warehouse automation, conveyor systems and tailored package delivery and e-commerce solutions.


Companies in the sector (M-Z)

Mechatronics is an official distributor of Delta Electronics, whose division for industrial automation develops and manufactures a wide range of products for automation of production processes: inverters, servo controls, operator panels, programmable controllers, temperature controllers, counters, timers, interface converters, etc.

PACS Solutions is a certified partner and system integrator of: Stratus Technologies – manufacturer of fault-tolerant industrial server and software platforms; ADS-TEC – developer of advanced computer and IT systems for the industry; ProLeiT – developer of software platforms for full automation of production processes.

Rittal Bulgaria is a subsidiary of the German concern Rittal – a leading global provider of solutions for industrial enclosures, power distribution, climate control and IT infrastructure.

Rotec – authorized distributor for Bulgaria of Rockwell Automation, imports and distributes a wide range of products for industrial automation: programmable logical controllers, industrial computers and software, operator’s panels, drives, softstarters, servo motors, sensors, etc.

SafetyUp is an exclusive partner of Pilz in Bulgaria. The company is specialized in the field of industrial automation and is focused mainly on machine safety. San Max Trade is active in the supply from China of equipment and spare parts for automation and robotics in the food sector and other key industry branches.

Schneider Electric Bulgaria specializes in energy management and automation and recently started the construction of its second smart factory in the country, which will assemble, test and pack automatic circuit breakers and other electrical products.

Sigma develops and implements technological process control systems based on programmable controllers and distributed systems, SCADA systems, etc. SMC Industrial Automation Bulgaria is a subsidiary of the Japanese specialist in industrial automation SMC Corporation. Siemens Bulgaria offers a wide range of industrial automation systems – discrete production automation components and solutions, process automation systems, industrial networks and software, identification systems, etc.

SPM Instrument Bulgaria is the only official representative for Bulgaria, Romania and Macedonia of the Swedish company SPM Instrument and offers a wide range of portable instruments and online systems for vibration monitoring of rotating mechanisms.

Stabil Engineering is specialized in industrial engineering and an official representative of a number of global companies in the field of product identification, inspection and labeling systems.

The TME catalog includes a broad range of industrial automation elements – over 6000 sensors and transducers of different types, elements to regulate and control the operation of systems, machines and production lines, controllers, regulators, relays, switches, signaling devices, recorders, building automation elements, etc.

V&V Isomatic is specialized in the import, sales and engineering of products for electrical distribution and protection and components for industrial control and automation.

Wago Bulgaria offers a large catalogue of terminals, connectors, controllers, couplers, analog and digital modules for industrial and building automation, I/O modules for use in Ex applications, HMI touch panels, relays, etc.

Weid-Bul imports and sells electrical devices and materials for electrical equipment and automation systems, including PLCs, HMIs, variable frequency drives, products for decentralized automation, safety sensors and systems and more. Zeiss Industrial Quality Solutions is a manufacturer in the field of quality assurance and process optimization. The company’s portfolio includes coordinate measuring machines, optical and multi-sensor systems, metrology solutions, etc.