When the drupa opens its doors every four years, the whole printing world turns its attention to the leading trade show in Düsseldorf. 2016 was another drupa year, and technotrans AG was obviously among the market participants showcasing their products. Visitors flocked to our stand on every day of the show. With our motto of “Partner in Print” we exhibited our innovations for various areas of cooling and liquid technology. The following segments are of especial significance: cooling in digital printing, sustainable and low-resource solutions, connected and smart control systems, and cooling for UV printing. In every area, technotrans is established as a reliable partner.
In digital printing, our compact chilling equipment for all performance ranges is used by almost all renowned manufacturers, helping to maintain high-quality printed results and a reliable production process. The range notably includes the successful smart.chiller for the low to medium performance range, and the omega.line for high performance ranges. Meanwhile printing with UV inks presents particular challenges to the periphery. Reliable and efficient cooling of the UV LED dryers guarantees durability and consistent results. Also in the sphere of highly reactive UV inks, we showcased an ink supply system with a patented piston sealing system as well as the ink.mate series of ink agitators at the drupa.
When we speak of connected and smart systems, broadly in the context of the “Industrie 4.0” vision, we mean our solutions that simplify operation and equipment monitoring. This includes making available information such as ink levels in a cloud, or analysing status data for a press in order to optimise maintenance processes. All these developments are also making our solutions even more sustainable. Performance-controlled systems allow continuous adjustment in line with actual cooling requirements, and increasing metering precision cuts the resources required. With every development, we are therefore raising system efficiency to the benefit of our customers.
We have therefore taken an important step in recent years. We are witnessing the emergence and successful establishment of new processes and are actively supporting them with our products. We are currently observing growth in the printing industry especially in the areas of flexographic, digital and 3D printing. technotrans is also on board for the special and hybrid applications of major OEMs. We therefore enjoy an excellent position in a market that is having its difficulties. The next step is to keep offering the best solutions for the future technologies of the printing sector. They will ensure that we continue to grow in that market, too.
It has been – and will remain – a strategic goal of the group to secure growth through acquisitions. But these must usefully complement both our product portfolio and our core skills, as well as blend a sound economic basis with corresponding growth potential. In 2016 technotrans AG acquired a majority interest of 98 percent in the share capital of GWK Gesellschaft Wärme Kältetechnik mbH. Through this acquisition we have stepped up our activities in the field of plastics engineering. We can now declare that we have already achieved our medium-term goal of earning 50 percent of consolidated revenue from outside the printing industry. What is more, we have tapped attractive application areas that will pave the way for future growth, too. And there is substantial synergy potential taking shape within the technotrans Group, which we will be realising over the coming months.
Our product portfolio, too, is benefiting directly from the solutions and expertise of our new colleagues in Meinerzhagen. That includes in particular temperature controllers for a variety of applications in plastics engineering, specifically for the injection moulding process. Then there are custom temperature control machines and chillers for machinery manufacturers and users in a wide range of application areas, turnkey energy-saving industrial cooling plants and products for water treatment and tool cleaning. Customers include leading players in the plastics processing industry, plastic machine manufacturers, plant engineering companies and also companies from the automotive, packaging, chemical and food industries.
Last year provided technotrans AG with its first opportunity to glean knowledge about this industry at the K show. It is regarded as the world's largest industry exhibition for the plastics and rubber industry. The event confirmed the GWK brand to be an important player for the entire industry. Both its close ties with very many customers and the colleagues’ profound technical consultancy expertise are valuable additions in terms of customer benefit and future growth.
As the next step, our task is to drive integration by putting the advantages of the group’s international line-up to work in the Service and Sales areas. We also aim to realise synergies in Purchasing, Design or Research and Development. We stand to benefit both from the high level of congruence between the components and from the positive direction being taken by many application areas in the plastics industry.
Metal processing is a cornerstone of industry. Processing takes many different forms: grinding, cutting, milling, stamping, turning, pressing or polishing, to name but a few. A plus point for technotrans AG is that we can use our expertise to make a valuable contribution to almost all systems. Air-cooled or liquid-cooled machinery is used in producing turned parts for the automotive industry, connectors for aviation or panels for industrial halls. Knee joints, dental implants, watch casings, tools or high-precision mirrors for aerospace are also among the many different application areas. These illustrate emphatically how our solutions are used in stable and growing industries.
As in previous years, we were able to increase our market share through our spray.xact spray lubrication system, the toolsmart cooling lubricant preparation system and also cooling solutions for all performance ranges. At the EuroBLECH trade show in October 2016 in Hanover, we for example presented a new version of spray.xact with spray pattern optimiser for especially complex applications. For simple processes, visitors to the show were able to get a first viewing of the spray.xact easy version with up to four spray nozzles. Further versions of the successful series are planned for 2017 to give us access to new application areas. Then there is the toolsmart.cp, one of the most successful cooling lubricant preparation systems of technotrans AG. We sold our 75th machine at the end of 2016. Within the space of five years, a solution that is now in its second generation has therefore developed into a key feature of many machine tools.
For use in a rapidly growing area such as 3D printing, a new combined unit for cooling and cooling lubricant preparation has recently been in the spotlight and was showcased at the AMB 2016 in Stuttgart. Visitors to the show stand were able to study a prototype of the system for the first time. All new products are equipped with newly developed control systems that enable more effective remote access. This is an aspect of connectivity in the spirit of Germany’s vision of “Industrie 4.0” and will be highly relevant for technotrans, too, over the coming years.
But instead of now regarding the entry into these markets as accomplished, we aim to continue expanding our market share in the next few years and play a major role in the new production techniques from the very outset. The past few years have seen the machine tool, laser industry and stamping and forming technology business areas occupy a leading role in the process of diversification at technotrans AG. It aims to maintain this pleasing growth in 2017 and see it make a major contribution to consolidated revenue.
technotrans AG’s decision many years ago to transfer its expertise to applications in other markets than the printing industry is now proving a source of sound, sustainable and quite substantial growth. Our approach involves tapping our long-standing experience and proven products for new processes. We follow that path even in markets that cannot yet have any major impact on the growth of technotrans AG. In those cases, either the market as a whole is still relatively small or it involves processes that do not yet enjoy a sizeable share of a large market. But we are convinced that that will change. Still at an early stage, we therefore seek out partners and technologies with which we can demonstrate our capabilities in growth markets. Such areas include medical and scanner technology, electric mobility and also semiconductor production.
As a result, we are in dialogue with potential partners and customers early on in the development process. We will be able to capitalise on that lead once established growth gathers momentum. This belief was further reinforced by exciting projects in 2016. We had already made headway with battery cooling for electric mobility in the previous year. New orders for trams and buses were successfully started or completed in 2016. technotrans has therefore already taken up position in this future market.
Imaging systems such as X-ray also continue to evolve and are becoming ever more important in medicine. Here again, technotrans solutions provide reliable cooling for the technology. The situation is similar in the field of scanner technology, such as is used at airports, for example. This is a large and lucrative market in which technotrans saw its first systems go into service successfully in 2016. Meanwhile in the semiconductor industry, carbon dioxide lasers are among the most powerful and widely used industrial lasers. Our products give us a presence even in that area.
With these and other applications, the various growth markets provide a broad basis. This is the basis for technotrans AG’s medium to long-term growth and the next step in our success story revolving around systematic technology transfer.
We are convinced that technotrans products are the most efficient and most reliable solution for every application. Our aim is always to offer our customers sustainable, low-resource, economical systems. That includes reducing wear and increasing service intervals. But one aspect that is at least as important is that our services are of an equally high standard. Customers today rightly expect more than an off-the-peg product. We are not just a partner and solution provider right the way from planning to commissioning; we also remain involved for many years after.
Because only a joined-up approach will meet our customers’ requirements optimally, we are constantly working to improve all processes. Over and above the classic portfolio of services, these include reducing interfaces in processes, new production concepts, internal and external logistics as well as certified quality management to ISO 9001:2015. The practical application is where the advantages of these efforts really shine through: we reliably supply wearing parts and use predictive maintenance to assess the status and operating life of many components already in use. This reduces downtimes to an absolute minimum and maintenance is only carried out when it is genuinely required. Even if our global network makes it possible to provide an effective on-site service, thanks to modern software many questions can be clarified by remote maintenance, wherever in the world equipment is situated. The result is even swifter problem-solving. With our export ratio of over 90 percent, that is an important argument in favour of technotrans technology.
We provide training for all interested users. Employees come to technotrans to learn how to use our solutions and understand how they can get the most out of technotrans systems in combination with their specific machinery. That way, we contribute directly to process reliability and satisfaction among our customers. We also seek dialogue, because by understanding the needs of our opposite number we are able to make our solutions even better, and above all improve the relevant areas.
Thanks to all these factors, the Services area continues to make a substantial contribution to the revenue of technotrans AG. Further growth is defined by the worldwide installed base that we are steadily expanding. Through the majority interest acquired in Berlin-based Ovidius GmbH in 2016, we have also given the Services segment a further boost. This acquisition will complement the future product portfolio of gds GmbH.