German Mechanical Engineering Award for Renate Pilz


An award for entrepreneurs "with great technological vision and a lot of heart and soul", is how the jury describes the German Mechanical Engineering Award. Ten outstanding corporate leaders have already received it, now it has been awarded to a woman for the first time at the evening reception of the mechanical engineering summit.

Renate Pilz from Ostfildern in Swabia is not only a "grandiose entrepreneur", as Claus Wilk, editor-in-chief of the trade magazine "Produktion", rightly pointed out, but also a woman with a great exemplary character for the entire mechanical engineering guild. The confessing Christian had to go a particularly hard way to make her company a world market leader in automation technology. After the tragic death of her husband Peter Pilz in 1975, Renate Pilz suddenly sat unplanned at the wheel of the company that had once started as a glassblowing company. She did not sell, took care of her children as well as the business and then took over the chairmanship of the management in 1994. When she put the management of the company into the hands of her two children in 2017, Pilz had become an internationally successful group with a good 2400 employees, sales of almost 340 million euros and an export share of around 70 percent.

Pilz became particularly famous for the world's first safety switchgear, which was launched on the market in 1987. The striking red stop button ensures that machines stop immediately in an emergency. "Industry 4.0 was already present in your company before the term was born," Wilk praised the prizewinner. A research and development quota of 20 percent of sales would speak volumes. But it is the warmth and care of Renate Pilz, which she has always radiated - with all the necessary consequence - and which makes her such a special personality, Wilk added. "The company was not part of your life plan and yet you continued the corporate vision extremely successfully: The passionate opera and theatregoer Renate Pilz was visibly touched by the prize and accepted it under "standing ovations" from the machine builders present. "I can accept this award from the heart, even in the name of my husband," she said.