The technotrans Group is growing in many different respects. On the one hand we can talk of growth in terms of revenue and earnings, orders, personnel or our product portfolio. On the other hand we are growing closer together as a group of companies. The process encompasses the many synergies at our locations, the joint innovations and ever greater cooperation on many different processes, ultimately leading to an ongoing dialogue between employees. It is also reflected in our new, uniform public image, which gives out a clear message about how we are growing together. On the following pages we provide an insight into how both of these interpretations of our “growing together” slogan are manifested in our day-to-day work, and why we are convinced that they are inextricably linked, because they are pivotal to the success of the technotrans Group.
The publication of our Annual Report opens a new chapter in our communications. For the first time ever, all locations and products are presented under a uniform visual identity. That is not an end in itself. Companies such as KLH Kältetechnik GmbH, gds GmbH and Termotek GmbH have been part of the technotrans Group for a number of years now. For just as long, we have been a full-liner for cooling systems in numerous sectors such as the laser and machine tool industry, or battery cooling. In other words, our product portfolio covers the entire performance range for cooling systems. Meanwhile we provide expert support for our customers at all stages of the process, from consultancy and development, to commissioning, servicing and retrofitting. We supply everything from a single source, and now communicate that blanket principle to everyone through our uniform public image.GmbH this year, hand in hand with the technotrans Group
To put this self-view into practice every day, we provide in-depth training for all employees across all locations and in all areas, from sales to service. We are retaining the advantages of non-central structures so that we can still make decisions flexibly and rapidly if need be. But at the same time we are are tapping a wide range of synergies: an umbrella approach to supplier management, expert sales operations for the entire product range and the worldwide service network for all technotrans solutions are just a few examples. An even more revealing example are the huge benefits derived from the growingtogether process in our show stand construction and dismantling team, which was in action for the first time in 2015. These colleagues are experts in their field, and make their expertise available to all locations. Another practical example is group or matrix certification, which enables us to make our quality management system simpler and more efficient for the companies by avoiding the need for a new certificate for every location and every product.
On the following pages we provide examples from every company in the group of how each one of them has contributed to our overall growth, and how existing structures have been integrated into a collective whole. We regard our goal of again increasing revenue and profit in the coming years as both the task of the group as a whole, and of every individual who works for it. We are already performing the groundwork and making our expertise and energy available to the entire group of companies under the technotrans umbrella.
At the core of our group is technotrans AG, with its headquarters in Sassenberg, Westphalia. This location is home to cooling technology for new markets, as well as to expertise for peripherals in the print area. Our coordinated, modular systems optimise production in offset, digital and flexographic printing. Over the past year this area of the company developed positively, as expected. Our strategy focuses on sustained, earnings-driven development. In some areas, we are already the technological and economic world market leader. Wherever that is not yet the case, we seek to achieve that status as our long-term goal.
Last year we were able to increase our market shares in the offset printing area, but even more satisfyingly, in the digital and flexographic printing area too. As anticipated, existing trends in this market continued and we expect the picture to remain unchanged in the next few years too. technotrans AG will continue to grow in this area. The machine tool industry likewise offers numerous opportunities for us in 3D printing. In 2015 we succeeded in positioning our products for filtration and cooling in this market. We also successfully expanded the area of laser technologies. In this dynamic environment, we are gaining a large number of new customers through both existing and additional, future innovations. Our spray lubrication system has made excellent progress, prompting us to expand that product area this year. Overall, we are very successfully generating steady growth with our products for machine tools and metal working.
In the segment for energy storage device cooling – for both mobile and stationary applications – we completed several orders last year. Here again, we were able to expand the portfolio into that of a full-liner thanks to growing cooperation with our colleagues at Termotek GmbH and KLH Kältetechnik GmbH. It is very useful to be able to draw on the expertise available in the group as a whole. We want to make the flow of experience and ideas more than just a one-way street. All employees of the group benefit continually from the day-to-day discussions in the course of business operations, but also from joint strategic activities.
Synergies in many different areas also bring an efficiency boost. A large number of new developments and exciting applications are taking shape in the group. Today, technotrans equipment and systems are found in action not on just stationary – in other words, permanently installed – energy storage facilities, but also on moving vehicles such as trams and buses. The coming years will bring more new projects and follow-on orders for us in this area. Last year the success of our mobile cooling solutions prompted us to take part in the busworld show in Belgium for the first time, and we were delighted to register lively interest in our products in this new area of activity.
The drupa, the most important industry exhibition for the print sector is already looming on the horizon and will take place in summer 2016 in Düsseldorf. technotrans plays an important role in many of the products that our customers will be exhibiting. We continue to be well-positioned in the print sector. We will naturally not rest on our laurels in 2016 and will build on these achievements to grow in tandem with the entire group.
The oldest member of our group of companies is gds GmbH. The subsidiary was spun off in 2009 from the Technical Documentation department of technotrans. Seven years on, the gds Group is no longer simply an internal and external fullservice provider; it has now evolved into an independent software supplier. The measurable, steadily growing success of this subsidiary is proof that expansion was always the right way to go. Our strategy of continually researching innovations and improvements and then applying them first internally before sharing them with gds customers has demonstrably been the right one.
The added value of the gds Group again paid dividends in 2015. By developing our own editorial system docuglobe, which we asserted as the market standard after the spin-off, we enabled the group to capitalise on precisely the effect that is our selling point for gds customers: we save time and money with editorial tasks. gds GmbH produces all technical documentation for the entire group, from operating manuals to assembly descriptions. In addition, over 2,000 users at some 400 different companies already benefit from gds expertise on a daily basis, and can count on the research and development work that it performs. External sales of gds software and sales have long since become an additional mainstay of core business. However due to the distinct business cycles of this market, the 2015 financial year initially proved relatively difficult for gds. Nevertheless, these weaknesses could be made good particularly in the second half of the year by a large number of successful deals, producing a positive overall picture for the financial year.
One major highlight of the past year was the receipt of the IT Innovation Award for the gds “authordesk” solution; this prize is awarded every year by the SME information network “Initiative Mittelstand”. The jury voted the new authoring assistance feature from gds “Best of 2015” in the Industry Software category. gds implemented an additional strategic extension to the document management system docuglobe in the form of the new “CE-Expert” module”. The feature renders it easier for manufacturing companies to comply with relevant legislation, directives and standards when compiling technical documentation. gds has also extended its portfolio of consultancy services: the core tasks of the new “Service Consulting” business area involve consultancy and integration. The spectrum of services extends from introducing the our editorial system docuglobe to implementing CE-relevant processes such as conformity evaluations, risk assessments and research of standards. These additions to the portfolio of services have equipped us well for the new financial year. The future offers an array of opportunities for the gds Group, under the umbrella of the technotrans Group; we will make the most of these so that together we can grow further. gds would not have been able to achieve this success without a corporate culture of openness and the spirit of partnership that pervades all collaborative activities. The ability to keep learning, broaden our horizons and always focus closely on the needs of customers – these are the key to our sustained, joint success.
Effective cooling for sensitive applications: in Baden-Baden, Termotek GmbH makes systems for cooling lasers in the scientific, medical and lab environment. It has been part of the technotrans Group since 2011, during which time it has achieved revenue growth in excess of 100 percent. Termotek thus makes a significant contribution to our huge success. Termotek’s 70 employees now operate in close harness with colleagues elsewhere in the group, and play a part in generating diverse new growth through projects that can only be brought to fruition by a concerted effort. These achievements, too, reflect how the full-liner strategy of the technotrans Group is working.
Last year, Termotek GmbH made very healthy progress in economic terms, too. This was mainly down to our strong international presence and our ability to capitalise on existing potential for generating new customers. Our innovative capability is demonstrated by a raft of projects. New projects were developed and marketed in such fields as scanner technology. These made a significant contribution to revenue growth. Scanner technology is now used in the security sector worldwide, for instance in airports. Termotek GmbH supplied the necessary cooling technology for a world market leader. This helped increase the revenue for this business area.
Termotek GmbH unveiled our new control system at the Laser World of Photonics, the industry’s leading show, which is held in Munich every two years. This new modular-structure control concept was developed jointly by technotrans and Termotek, and in the future will be used throughout the entire group. This example shows there are many advantages to working together, because this development project would have been very difficult to accomplish independently. Wherever it is possible, or wherever the market conditions allow, the joint development of components and products that can in turn be used elsewhere in the group are a strategic objective. The solutions can usually be used in a variety of areas, and generate further growth potential for future years. Various specific achievements illustrate how strongly we are converging, simply by working together.
For example, in 2015 the Service area of Termotek GmbH established a repair centre in Asia. We have expanded our range of services for even faster response times. We are now in a position to react more flexibly to customer requests and developments in the market. In production, we have introduced a lean management project designed to cut our lead times even further and make our production operations as lean as possible.
What belongs together is now growing together. This development is underpinned by employees at all locations who are receptive to new structures. The supplier management system, too, is growing together, and all parties enjoy the benefits of our lead buyer system. With the Purchasing department at technotrans AG taking the lead, the economies of scale achieved filter through directly as cost savings to each subsidiary, including Termotek GmbH. So the prospects for us are very bright: we expect further growth for Termotek GmbH this year, hand in hand with the technotrans Group.
KLH Kältetechnik GmbH has been part of the technotrans Group since 2013. Its universal cooling systems from 0.8 to 300 kilowatts and its efficient industrial cooling systems with a rating of up to 1 megawatt have since developed into an ideal addition to our product portfolio. Conversely the location in Bad Doberan, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, benefits from the worldwide service network and sales organisation of the entire group. The successful development continued in 2015.
Together with technotrans AG, KLH Kältetechnik GmbH maintains production operations not just at the respective manufacturing bases in Germany, but also jointly at the Taicang facility in China. The specialists for industrial cooling systems in turn supply components to technotrans AG. The group benefits from this arrangement, especially for the production of special assemblies in small runs. Instead of having to rely on external suppliers, we have more direct access to more economical solutions. That makes us more flexible. And where we do still rely on trusted partners, we again realise economies of scale thanks to supplier overlaps.
Convergence in the service area means we can now offer crossproduct customer care all around the world. That makes us interesting partners for companies that count among the leading manufacturers in their industry. We moreover maintain a global presence at industry exhibitions, most recently at the Laser World of Photonics in Shanghai. The trade visitors were without exception deeply impressed; that gives us ample cause for confidence about future years.
But for us, sharing resources is not just about a production location, it also encompasses service. At Sassenberg, we have also pursued joint development projects with KLH. By pooling research and development resources we achieve a depth that neither company alone would be able to achieve; as a result, we reach our goals sooner and can respond more flexibly to the requirements of the market. The group was also able to profit directly from the experience of KLH Kältetechnik GmbH in the field of machine tools. By entering this sector, we have been able to acquire new customers that were not previously in our sights.
So we believe it is only logical to continue down this chosen path. KLH Kältetechnik currently employs 119 people at its headquarters in Bad Doberan and at Taicang, and has increased its revenue by 17 percent since it became part of the group in 2013. We expect further growth over the coming months and years. It will be underpinned by venturing into new markets and by business expansion into industries where the cooling solutions have long been established. Meanwhile we continue to grow together, with both parties profiting from strong teams in the sales, service and development areas. The ongoing dialogue between employees at all locations and our close collaboration produce a constant stream of new ideas and make us even more innovative as a group. In only three years, we have demonstrated just how much potential can be realised through outstanding products, effective structures and above all the will to act in concert in day-to-day work. Based on all these factors, KLH Kältetechnik GmbH has developed into an important component of the technotrans Group.
Service business makes a significant contribution to the success of the group. All companies benefit from our worldwide service network, through which we are always available to provide on-the-ground advice or assistance for our customers. We now offer the same high-calibre support for all products of the technotrans Group in all markets. This has already helped us to introduce the products of both Termotek GmbH and KLH Kältetechnik GmbH to new customers who serve the world market and in some cases have export ratios of more than 90 percent. This example shows how we generate growth by putting our resources to work groupwide. A similar picture emerges for customers that need several different cooling solutions in various application areas. Thanks to the targeted acquisitions of recent years and their integration into central processes, the technotrans Group is now a full-liner that operates as a one-stop shop for technological solutions for all application areas.
We are in a position to offer the full gamut of services, from concepts, through development, production and assembly, to ongoing maintenance or retrofitting. As well as having a presence on the ground, we are continually building up our expertise. To that end, we are establishing umbrella structures that benefit all companies of the group. We hold technology forums to maintain a constant dialogue between the relevant employees, as a way of responding swiftly and efficiently to new developments and enquiries from the market. Joint innovation groups are a regular source of fresh ideas. These benefit both our existing processes and our product development activities. Joint technological standards and product qualification work boost efficiency and speed up decisionmaking.
Because we are convinced that the most valuable resource of the technotrans Group is the expertise of its employees. We therefore consciously invest in developing that resource. Over recent years we have already succeeded in unlocking ample potential at the various locations by disseminating and merging expertise on a group-wide scale. These effects can be exploited especially well in the Service and Research & Development areas. On the one hand this generates a high level of customer satisfaction, but it also offers the prospect of creative, market-led products as a source of further growth over the coming months and years.
These developments pave the way for further structural benefits such as uniform supplier management and widespread synergies in certification and quality management processes. The time and money that the group then saves can be invested in other areas. This does not mean we are spurning the benefits of noncentral structures. Every location of the technotrans Group is also a specialist and is perceived as such. We showcase this expertise e.g. in applications for lasers, energy storage devices or machine tools at exhibitions and congresses. Our Printing Industry business unit continues to profit from established structures and is also developing positively.
In 2016 we will keep working at improving the efficiency of the various areas, from Development to Purchasing and Service. We are growing together wherever it yields added value for our customers.
The technotrans Group can only develop, build and sell the best products if motivated, qualified employees want to work towards that goal every day. That is the case here at technotrans. To facilitate the process we offer a variety of arrangements at all locations. These encompass a large number of qualification and further training options, health management and special events.
Attracting specialists and qualifying personnel are a key challenge for all mid-corporate businesses. The technotrans Group has been an exemplary employer in its region for many years. We get involved in a large number of social projects and create an agreeable, productive working environment for our teams.
We also team up with the region’s schools as well as with various universities. This enables us to give young people the opportunity to put their ideas and energy to work at a globally active company. The excellent results achieved by our apprentices endorse this approach. Demographic change will make it increasingly important to be an attractive and reliable employer. We are addressing this issue through an array of measures.
In 2015 the technotrans Group introduced the Job Bike. Employees can now travel to work by bike or its modern manifestation, the e-bike, and avoid vehicle congestion. This promotes a healthy lifestyle, saves the cost of travelling by car or paying bus fares and also does the environment a favour. Those who are keen to visit the gym for a session before or after work can access various membership benefits arranged by technotrans. And our colleagues can save hard cash by presenting their employee card when shopping at many retailers in the vicinity. In 2015 we created similar arrangements at all locations and will be rolling them out for all employees at the various subsidiaries in 2016.
One core aspect of growing together in the technotrans Group is interpersonal communication. There are established arrangements for employees to switch locations for a limited period, to promote the transfer of expertise and experience. Our customers also benefit from this. Our Family Festival at the Sassenberg headquarters in summer 2015 reflected the spirit of understanding and the desire for dialogue. Almost the entire workforce of Termotek GmbH attended, making the “open house” event a huge success for all involved.
We want both our present and future employees to enjoy working at technotrans. Our employees are unique, as is their vision of what makes a good worker. From achieving a work-life balance or bringing their own ideas to fruition at work to receiving suitable compensation for their services, every one of them has different priorities and wants to be both encouraged and challenged.
Meeting such expectations has always been and will remain an important component of our corporate culture.