Growth targets surpassed in 2014, despite difficult environment
Sales growth in all business sectors and regions
Sales expected to rise by 3 to 5 percent in 2015
Increasing importance of software competence
15,000 software engineers, 3,000 for the internet of things
Stuttgart – The Bosch Group has made a good start to 2015. In the first quarter, sales grew by roughly 13 percent.1 After adjusting for exchange-rate effects, the increase was 5.4 percent. For the current fiscal year, the global supplier of technology and services expects its sales to grow 3 to 5 percent after adjusting for exchange-rate effects. Because these effects are considerable, Bosch expects its nominal sales growth to be higher than this range. Presenting the annual financial statements in Gerlingen, Germany, Dr. Volkmar Denner, the chairman of the Bosch board of management, said: “Our economic and technological strength in our established fields of business allows us to open up new market segments.” Internet-enabled products and internet-based services are one of the focal points of the company's future sales growth. “We are driving connectivity forward in all our business sectors and playing an active role in shaping it,” Denner added. In 2014, Bosch launched many new products and connectivity solutions. They include web-enabled ovens and software solutions for connected heating systems and buildings, as well as for connected industry and connected mobility.
Business developments in 2014: significant progress In 2014, product innovations again helped Bosch to further improve its market position in many areas. In the past business year, the company increased its sales by a nominal 6.3 percent to 49 billion euros. Adjusted for exchange-rate effects, growth was 7.4 percent. As a result of negative exchange-rate effects to the tune of some 500 million euros, the temporarily strong euro had a considerable impact on the sales figure. This strong development of sales also contributed to an improved result. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose to 3 billion euros last year – a year-on-year increase of roughly 10 percent. Bosch thus disclosed an EBIT margin of 6.2 percent in 2014. This is roughly one percentage point better than the value for 2013, adjusted for one-off and extraordinary effects. “Our rigorous work on costs also played a part in this significant improvement in result. In 2014, we were successful despite only moderate global economic growth,” said Dr. Stefan Asenkerschbaumer, the Bosch chief financial officer and deputy chairman of the board of management. Following the complete takeover of BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH (now BSH Hausgeräte GmbH), the supplier of technology and services has strengthened its position in the area of smart homes. And with the acquisition of ZF Lenksysteme GmbH (now Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH), Bosch has added to its portfolio in the growth area of automated driving.
Mobility solutions for tomorrow's traffic For Bosch, automated driving is a significant area of growth. The company is successively launching new driver assistance systems. For example, 2015 will see the start of series production of remote-controlled parking, the traffic jam assist, and an assistance function for evasive maneuvers and turning against oncoming traffic. In the Mobility Solutions business sector, more than 2,000 engineers are working to make the auto pilot for drivers a reality. When it comes to the mobility of the future, Bosch is not only concerned with automation, but also with connectivity and electrification. As of now, the company has received 30 orders relating to electrical powertrains. Each year, Bosch invests nearly 400 million euros in electromobility, not least in further developing battery technology. “We were instrumental in the success story of the diesel. We want to do the same for the electrical powertrain,” Denner said. One key to the market success of electrical powertrains is their suitability for everyday use. For example an app developed by Bosch gives drivers access to a network covering 80 percent of all web-enabled charge spots in Germany. For users, this means that recharging their electric vehicles is easy.
Today, Bosch sees itself as a supplier of mobility solutions that cover more than just the car. In 2014, systems such as gasoline and diesel direct injection were once again extremely successful. Increasingly, they are being joined by software solutions and mobility services. “Connectivity makes completely new solutions possible for the multimodal traffic of the future. And in established areas as well, it will play a significant role in creating customer benefit and conserving resources,” Denner said. Last year, for example, Bosch debuted connected electronic engine management systems for two wheelers. Riders can use their smartphones to read and evaluate vehicle data.
Growing significance of software competence In the connectivity business, there is a new “3S”: sensors, software, and services. Bosch is the globally leading manufacturer of micromechanical sensors, more commonly known as MEMS sensors. This year, it will manufacture 1.6 billion such “sensory organs,” nearly 25 percent more than in the previous year. Moreover, for some years now, the technology company has been expanding its software competence. Today, one in three of the 45,700 associates working in research and development is a software engineer. Three thousand engineers are working on the internet of things alone. “For Bosch, software expertise is a key competence for the future,” Denner said. “Embedded software is already one of our strong points, and we are successively adding to this with IT software know-how.” Only recently, Bosch acquired the connectivity specialist ProSyst, a supplier of gateway software and middleware. In smart homes, ProSyst software acts as an interpreter for the devices of different manufacturers.
Bosch IoT suite: platform for the internet of things One central software platform for the internet of things is the Bosch IoT suite. It orchestrates communication and data exchange between web-enabled objects such as factory machinery, heating systems, and security cameras. The Bosch IoT suite can also analyze and process the kind of big data generated in areas such as connected manufacturing. Bosch also makes parts of its IoT suite accessible for open-source developers. “Our IoT suite is meant as an invitation to participate. In shaping the connected world, we put our faith in open solutions, since we believe they will drive forward the manufacturer-independent networking of devices and machines,” said Denner, whose responsibilities on the Bosch board of management include research and advance engineering.
A multitude of services on the internet of things According to Denner, the business potential of the internet of things lies above all in the services that can be derived from connectivity. “Bosch is in equal measure a supplier of technology and services, and both are an advantage for us in the connectivity business.” Even today, Bosch offers a wide range of service solutions for many industries and customers. For example, its Security Systems division offers telematics services such as eCall for 500,000 vehicles in 16 languages. By the end of 2015, Bosch will have facilitated the connectivity of some 100,000 vehicles for the fleet management of leasing and insurance companies. At the Hannover trade fair, Bosch presented its remote service manager. In connected manufacturing, it makes the remote maintenance of machinery possible.
Data security and data protection in the connected world With growing connectivity, there is also a growing demand for data security and data protection. “The decisive factor for the widespread acceptance of connected solutions will be data protection, and thus people's trust,” Denner said. In this context, the Bosch CEO called for rapid adoption of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. “Both legally and technologically, there is still much to be done to make Europe truly ready for the internet of things.” In the area of data security, the company is already in good shape. Bosch employs more than 100 associates who specialize in secure data transfer. The company operates a center of competence in which it brings together relevant know-how in areas such as cryptographic methods and the management of certificates.
The business year 2014 by region and business sector
Asia Pacific: growth region number one In Asia Pacific, Bosch grew its sales 17 percent (19 percent after adjusting for exchange-rate effects) in 2014, to 13 billion euros. At just under 27 percent of total sales revenue, the region's share of sales reached a new high. Sales growth was especially strong in China, rising a nominal 27 percent to 6.4 billion euros.
Americas: significant growth in North America, difficult environment in South America Our business in North America developed very well, growing 8.6 percent to 8.5 billion euros. Adjusted for exchange rates, the increase was as much as 9.3 percent. In South America, weak automotive production and weakness of the Brazilian real had a negative effect on sales developments. At 1.5 billion euros, sales were down by an exchange rate-adjusted 4.4 percent on the previous year. In nominal terms, the drop in sales was 13 percent.
Europe: economic situation remains difficult Despite an economic situation that remained difficult, Bosch increased its sales in Europe by 2.1 percent to 26 billion euros. Adjusted for exchange-rate effects, growth was 2.5 percent. The region thus accounted for 53 percent of total sales. In Germany as well, sales were up year on year, at 10.8 billion euros.
Mobility Solutions: growth twice as fast as the market The Mobility Solutions business sector was once again able to accelerate its rate of growth. Sales rose 8.9 percent (9.9 percent after adjusting for exchange-rate effects) to 33.3 billion euros. Bosch thus grew twice as fast as the automotive market. The business sector's EBIT was 2.4 billion euros, and its EBIT margin 7.2 percent. Without one-off and consolidation effects, the year-on-year improvement in operating result is roughly 0.9 percentage points.
Industrial Technology: back on a growth path In 2014, the Industrial Technology business sector's sales amounted to 6.7 billion euros, a nominal 2 percent below the previous-year level (1 percent after adjusting for exchange-rate effects). This slight drop is due to a weak market, as well as to the divestment of the sector's pneumatics business in early 2014. Excluding this consolidation effect, sales increased by 2.5 percent, and 3.6 percent after adjusting for exchange-rate effects. All in all, Industrial Technology improved its EBIT to 67 million euros.
Consumer Goods: market leader in power tools Encouraging growth was posted by the Consumer Goods business sector. Its sales grew 5 percent to 4.2 billion euros, or 7 percent after adjusting for exchange-rate effects. Last year, the business sector generated EBIT of some 550 million euros and an EBIT margin of 13.1 percent. Its EBIT included the pro rata after-tax profit of the BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH joint venture.
Energy and Building Technology: enhanced competitiveness In 2014, the Energy and Building Technology business sector increased its sales by 1.7 percent (2.6 percent after adjusting for exchange-rate effects), to 4.6 billion euros. Its EBIT came to some 170 million euros. EBIT margin stood at 3.7 percent.
Headcount: 12,000 new hires this year In 2015, Bosch plans to take on some 12,000 graduates worldwide, 1,200 of them in Germany alone. Total Bosch headcount grew by some 9,000 in 2014, to 290,000. Following the integration of the former fifty-fifty joint ventures BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH and ZF Lenksysteme GmbH, the Bosch Group now employs roughly 360,000 associates (as per April 1, 2015).
1 Sales figure assumes that the consolidated group includes BSH Hausgeräte GmbH and Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH.
FIONA research project to create open software platform with standardized interfaces
Basis for location-based services
Two demonstrators in the pipeline: a navigation assistant for the visually impaired and a guide on the smart phone
Stuttgart – Navigation systems have long since established themselves as a valuable tool for outdoor use, with many drivers relying on their in-car devices to guide them on the roads. Such systems draw on GPS signals, and thus work only outdoors. For indoor environments, we have yet to see fully viable navigation solutions. This is a barrier to the development of location-based services (LBS), which have the potential to help people in a variety of ways. Possible applications include a service that would function like an electronic white cane to aid the visually impaired in navigating through indoor spaces, and a smart phone app that would help people to get their bearings in public buildings.
An open, independent platform Though location-based services are an extremely attractive business proposition, their potential has so far remained virtually unexploited. What is missing is a uniform underlying structure – an open and independent platform upon which LBS providers can build their services. It is this platform that the FIONA (Framework for Indoor and Outdoor Navigation Assistance) research project is seeking to create. Ten partners from industry and research in five states have joined together to develop a software framework that will facilitate the development of location-based services. Though there are a number of indoor positioning technologies already available, they are limited either by their technology or their cost. This relatively new market is heavily fragmented. There are hardly any firmly established standards, and small and large companies manufacture components that are not compatible with one another.
Defining interfaces Project partners will agree on an architecture and implement it so that components from different manufacturers can be combined in a single system. It is at the interfaces between components that the need for standardization is greatest. How does a localization system communicate with a navigation system? What information is necessary and what is optional? How often must data be transmitted and at what level of detail? What happens when there is a malfunction? These are but a few of the many questions that need to be addressed.
Demonstrator prototypes To demonstrate the effectiveness of the framework, the project team intends to showcase two applications. The first is a navigation assistant, which will accurately guide the blind and visually impaired from building to building (as on shopping trips, for instance), as well as from room to room, and will alert them to any obstacles. In an aging society, where the number of people with visual impairments is on the rise, this kind of service will certainly be in demand. The second demonstrator will be a virtual tour guide for places such as museums, shopping malls, airports, and factory floors. In the form of a smartphone app, the virtual guide will direct users through buildings and provide relevant information according to the type of building and their current location within it. This might be information about works of art, items on a shopping list, flight details or machines in need of repair.
Promoting innovation Both applications show how results from FIONA can be used in practice. FIONA will offer LBS providers a reliable framework for their services, making it quicker and cheaper to develop new products and stimulating competition among suppliers. As a transnational project, FIONA can also strengthen Europe’s position on the LBS market, which is expected to see rapid growth over the coming years.
A transnational project FIONA brings together large and small companies as well as research institutions from several EU member states: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. The project team includes specialist developers from the fields of positioning, obstacle recognition, navigation, security, and human-computer interaction as well as system integration experts. Robert Bosch GmbH in Stuttgart is heading up the project, and is working with three partners in Germany: the Fraunhofer Institute for Embedded Systems and Communication Technologies ESK in Munich, Infineon Technologies AG in Neubiberg, and the University of Applied Sciences in Ulm. FIONA is part of the ITEA 2 (Information Technology for European Advancement) cluster program under the umbrella of Europe’s EUREKA research initiative, and is receiving funding of 1.9 million euros from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project is scheduled to run until February 2016.
Wanted: innovative ideas and new applications for a high-precision laser module used for distance measuring
Start-ups to receive a development budget of 25,000 euros, access to a high-tech prototyping workshop, office space, coaches, and mentors
First round of the program set to begin in April 2015
Start-ups can apply until February 27, 2015
Stuttgart – Bosch and UnternehmerTUM, the Center for Innovation and Business Creation at Munich Technical University (TUM), are launching an accelerator program for start-ups that is based on Bosch technical innovations. The participating start-ups will receive exclusive access to innovative product platforms and professional support. As a result, they will be able to develop potential new products and business models faster than usual. In the past, such access was reserved to established customers. “Cooperation with the TechFounders accelerator program has opened up the possibility to make new Bosch product platforms available to selected start-ups,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. “This open innovation approach is an extension of our internal research and development activities.”
Wanted: start-ups with innovative ideas in areas where high-precision laser modules for distance measuring can be applied Bosch is launching the first accelerator program on April 20, 2015, and will be making a high-precision laser module for distance measuring available to the participating start-ups. This Bosch innovation has made it possible to enhance products with information on distance. The Bosch Power Tools division is currently using the technology in room measurement products for professionals and DIY enthusiasts. By cooperating with TechFounders, Bosch stands to gain access to applications in other sectors. For instance, new applications could be developed in areas such as robotics, sporting equipment, automation tools for industry, or gadgets for personal use. This is why Bosch has made the module for distance measuring available as an open development platform and opened up the module’s interfaces.
On offer: professional and financial support Creative start-ups from any industry are invited to apply, provided that they recognize the potential of the technology and aim either to equip their products and technologies with it, or to develop new innovative applications. The start-ups will receive intensive support from TechFounders coaches, as well as from experienced Bosch mentors and entrepreneurs. In addition to this, the teams will be allocated office space and given access to TechShop, a high-tech prototype workshop. Bosch Power Tools will provide the required tools free of charge. Furthermore, start-ups will receive a development budget of 25,000 euros. The UnternehmerTUM program is unique because it does not require the start-ups to offer equity in their companies in exchange for participating. Interested start-ups can apply until February 27, 2015, at www.techfounders.com.
“Many of the innovations made by Bosch’s Power Tools division are not relevant for our market. However, they have the potential to enable solutions in other sectors that could set new standards. Together with TechFounders, we are looking for entrepreneurs that are willing to tackle this challenge,” says Henk Becker, member of the Bosch Power Tools executive management.
Robert Bosch Venture Capital Bosch institutionalized its cooperation with start-ups and young entrepreneurs in 2007 with the founding of Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH. The subsidiary finances innovative start-ups that are strategically relevant for Bosch. “We look forward to cooperating with UnternehmerTUM and TechFounders. Over the course of the program, we will support the participating start-ups with our vast experience,” says Dr. Claus Schmidt, managing director of Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH.
UnternehmerTUM – Center for Innovation and Business Creation at Munich Technical University (TUM) UnternehmerTUM supports start-ups and established companies in the process of setting up and expanding their businesses as well as with market entry. The UnternehmerTUM fund offers seed capital for promising young technology companies with international market potential. With more than 20 rapidly-growing spin-offs and over 1,000 participants in its training program, UnternehmerTUM plays a leading role in Europe.
TechFounders accelerator program In launching the TechFounders accelerator program, UnternehmerTUM is pooling its strengths. For many years already, it has offered a platform for cooperation between established companies and start-ups, and TechFounders is the latest evolution of this platform. TechFounders offers start-ups access to a high-tech ecosystem, experienced mentors and industrial partners, as well as a development budget of 25,000 euros. Bosch is TechFounders’ second industrial partner, after the BMW Group.