The focus for the Research and Development area in 2015 was to expand and promote the development of cooling systems for energy storage devices (e.g. lithium-ion batteries). This area is developing, implementing and testing a large number of projects for mobile applications (e.g. energy storage devices for rail technology). In addition to cooling of energy storage devices in rail technology, we are increasingly receiving enquiries from the market segment of bus and coach technology. Growing demand is being registered in the field of battery-operated transport technology.
The aim is to create a standardised product range for this market, even if it is still very difficult to realise in view of the technology’s early state of development. As matters stand it is not yet possible to describe a large number of application-dependent specifications in detail because in some cases the operating conditions and therefore the necessary findings are not yet available. Alongside product development proper, the entire industry is still strongly defined by research and advance development work. In October 2015 technotrans made its first appearance at the industry exhibition Busworld in Kortrijk, Belgium. Based on the very positive feedback and the large number of customer enquiries and projects, we continue to believe that the market for both mobile and stationary energy storage devices offers interesting future revenue potential for the technotrans Group.
Another area of activity is technology monitoring, i.e. observing and identifying technologies that could have future relevance for the technotrans Group. As well as building prototypes that use innovative components, we are also turning our attention to the general issues concerning pioneering technologies/mechanisms that might feature in our future products/systems. A partnership with the Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences covering a wide range of topics and priority tasks was forged in 2015. Through our close contact with universities, higher education and organisations we continue to seek intensive exchanges and ties with external partners, and to spread the culture of innovation in the technotrans Group.
In addition, in 2015 we made progress with expanding a group-wide control platform within the development area of controls. As well as the high control system that was premièred in our spray lubrication product (spray.xact) at the Euroblech 2014 show, technotrans presented a further new development at Blechexpo 2015 in the form of spray.xact easy. This new product is aimed at applications of a complexity that ranks below that of spray.xact. In June, technotrans also unveiled its newly developed modular control system in the “medium price segment” at the “Laser World of Photonics” in Munich. This very flexible-to-use modular architecture comes in response to the growing pressure on costs, while offering a wide range of options for technotrans customers. With the control concepts, technotrans is gradually implementing a platform-independent communication and visualisation approach that uses a web browser, thus reflecting the connectivity idea of the German strategic initiative “Industrie 4.0”, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Alongside other new developments, the control platform will be one of the topics to be showcased at drupa 2016 under the slogan “touch the future”.
Last but not least, technotrans has developed a cooling unit for baggage scanners. We identify growing demand and further attractive niche potential for our group in this area of security technology.
Development spending is fundamentally recognised in the Income Statement. If the appropriate requirements are satisfied, development expenditure is treated as an intangible asset pursuant to IAS 38 and recognised as such on the Balance Sheet. The R&D ratio (development spending in relation to overall revenue) was 3.5 percent in the past financial year (previous year: 3.0 percent). If R&D spending is expressed as usual in relation to revenue for the Technology segment, the figures as shown in the following table are as follows:
|Financial Year||FY 2015||FY 2014||FY 2013||FY 2012||FY 2011|
|R&D expenses1||€ '000||4,293||3,382||2,985||2,241||2,046|
|Capitalized development costs4||€ '000||1,195||1,439||1,583||851||336|
|1 R&D expenses pursuant to consolidated income statement
2 R&D expenses refer to the revenue by segment technology
3 Activated development costs refer to R&D expenses
4 Residual carrying amounts
It can be seen that the R&D spending ratio is once more showing an upward trend after the crisis years. This reflects the group’s readiness to invest in new markets, products and technology in general. On the other hand the capitalisation ratio, i.e. the ratio of development expenditure recognised as an intangible asset to R&D spending, fell in 2015. This effect is attributable to the criteria of IAS 38 and the development status of a large number of development projects.
In rare instances, external capacity is used for special development topics. In individual cases, customer-specific developments can also be co-financed by the customer. No grants or third-party funds were used in 2015.
technotrans owns a large number of patents, licences and similar rights. Patents were again filed for a number of developments in 2015, though patent applications are routinely only submitted following a careful assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining such protection.