Gira's ThinkTank Insta turns 50: a success story from dimmers to the Internet of Things.

Gira's ThinkTank Insta turns 50: a success story from dimmers to the Internet of Things.

Happy Birthday! At the end of 2020, Insta GmbH celebrated its 50th anniversary. It’s an occasion for us to look back on five decades of innovation from the Gira subsidiary, the Insta dimmer, and the first "hum-free" transformer to smart KNX buildings and the Internet of Things.

The cornerstone of five decades of innovation – the founding of Insta GmbH.

While the Gira subsidiary has been one of the most innovative medium-sized companies for long, it started off quite modestly in 1970 as a technology start-up with 35 employees in rented premises near Lüdenscheid in the Sauerland region.

Why was the Insta GmbH founded at all? For the same practical reasons, which Gira pursued at the time along with the medium-sized switch manufacturers, Jung and Berker: "The goal of the new company is the development, design and production of individual components and parts which cannot be produced individually for each company in economical batch sizes, so that such devices for the installation material sector can be produced jointly in a more sensible way.

This is how the three companies announced in a letter of 1970 the establishment of their development and production joint venture at that time – a starting signal for a success story that continues to this day.

First successful products: The Insta dimmer and the "hum-free" transformer.

In the five decades of its existence, Insta GmbH has developed into an important technology and innovation centre in the field of electrical engineering for buildings. One of the first milestones it reached was the self-developed and novel Insta Dimmer, of which the company produced about 10,000 units in 1974.

Der Insta Luxus Tischdimmer in den 70er Jahren
The Insta luxury table dimmer provided dimmable light in homes in the 70s.

Insta achieves its next success with the development of the first "hum-free" electronic transformer, which is unique on the market to date and has been correspondingly well received. "This was not a contract work, but rather this solution was developed by Insta itself as the first in Europe – an incredible success story and an absolute hit," says Gira Managing Director Dirk Giersiepen.

Der erste brummfreie Trafo auf dem Markt von Insta 1988
An "absolute hit": In 1988, Insta succeeded in developing the first "hum-free" transformer.

Digitally networked Smart Home: Insta as the "midwife" of the current KNX standard.

Over the last five decades, Insta has not only succeeded in coping with the technological change, for example from incandescent lamps to LED technology, but has also helped shape it with its own innovations. One of these ground-breaking innovations is the development of a communication standard that makes the digital networking of buildings as we know it today possible. It is no coincidence that this standard – the result of a cooperation with Berker, Gira, Jung, Merten and Siemens – was first called Instabus before it began its triumphal march around the globe as the European Installation Bus (EIB) and then, from 1999, as KNX.

Instabus Warenzeichen
The first communication standard of the early Smart Home is called Instabus - a development from the Sauerland.

20 patent applications per year: innovations from the Sauerland.

KNX has long been considered the global standard in smart buildings. Insta continues to be a major driving force for its further development. Every tenth KNX device used in smart buildings around the globe today comes from the Lüdenscheid-based technology company. Here one now thinks in terms of "smart spaces", in which various networked systems work on the basis of different technologies. "We have the competence to deal with this new complexity and dynamics and to develop solutions for it. Because we can do electronics," conclude Insta managing directors Jeroen Rijswijk and Alexander Burgbacher.

"We are glad we have Insta."

Today, it is hard to imagine the humble beginnings of Insta GmbH. Shortly after the turn of the millennium in 2002, the company moved to a new location "Hohen Steinert" in Lüdenscheid. More than 500 employees research new technologies in the field of electronics and related software solutions, which they produce right next door. From the initial idea, through its development to series production, to production and logistics, everything comes from a single source at the Sauerland-based electronics specialist.

In 2020, Insta GmbH and the managing directors of the two remaining parent companies Gira and Jung, Dirk Giersiepen and Harald Jung, look back on 50 successful years. At the same time, however, they also look to the future with great confidence: "The challenges will not diminish, and technological development will become increasingly dynamic. But with Insta, we will rather have to manage growth issues. We are glad we have Insta.”

Insta Produktionsräume in Lüdenscheid
Today, Insta researches, develops and produces innovative technologies on a total area of about 8,000 sqm: On average, the company applies for 20 patents per year.

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