Bosch CEO Denner: “The breadth of our technological expertise and our presence in diverse sectors of the economy are crucial advantages in a connected world.”
Sales up 2.7 percent to 46.4 billion euros
Disregarding extraordinary burdens from photovoltaics, EBIT margin at roughly 6 percent
Stuttgart – According to preliminary figures, the Bosch Group increased its sales by 2.7 percent in 2013, to 46.4 billion euros, and this despite the difficult economic environment (adjusted previous-year figure: 45.2 billion euros). In the form of negative exchange-rate effects to the tune of some 1.5 billion euros, the strong euro places a considerable burden on the sales revenue disclosed by the supplier of technology and services. Earnings have developed fundamentally better, but are once again affected by the situation of the Solar Energy division, which remained difficult in 2013. In early 2013, the company announced its decision to exit its activities in crystalline photovoltaics.
*Note: Due to changes in the law, Bosch no longer includes its fifty-fifty joint ventures in its accounting. This mainly concerns Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH and ZF Lenksysteme, whose consolidated sales comes to some 7 billion euros. Due to these changes, current figures for sales, result, and headcount are only partially comparable with the figures previously published for 2012.
Progress in earnings According to preliminary figures, and leaving aside the extraordinary burdens caused by photovoltaics, the Bosch Group EBIT margin comes to some 6 percent. This is roughly one percentage point more than in the previous year. Including the extraordinary burdens as a result of photovoltaics, which are likely to total 1.3 billion euros, EBIT margin some 3 percent. “The many measures taken to improve profitability are clearly working. In fact, we have made better progress with result than expected,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. In 2014, Bosch will continue to work without let-up on improving its competitiveness and fitness for the future. As regards the targets for sales growth and margin, Denner said: “We have already made progress. We will continue to focus on profitability, growth, and agility.”
Seizing growth opportunities – opening up new market segments The company wants to unlock existing potential for growth and open up new market segments. Various future trends are relevant for Bosch here. Apart from energy efficiency and connectivity, there is the high-spending aging population in the industrialized countries and the rapidly growing middle class in the emerging markets of Asia and South America. Bosch is also working intensively on the mobility of the future, which will be electric, automated, and connected. In 2013, Bosch launched many products and services related to these trends. They include highly efficient gasoline and diesel injection systems, driver assistance systems such as motorcycle stability control, mySPIN smartphone integration solution, telematics services for the management of vehicle fleets, and robotics applications such as the “Indego” lawnmower.
Shaping and participating – Bosch in the connected world Bosch especially wants to open up new market segments with solutions for connected living. “The breadth of our technological expertise and our presence in diverse sectors of the economy are crucial advantages in a connected world. We want to play an active role in shaping that world, and at the same time take advantage of the business opportunities it offers. Bosch’s strategic objective is to create solutions for a connected world,” Denner said. For many, connectivity is already a reality. By 2015, some 75 percent of global population will be online, along with more than 6 billion devices. In Bosch’s view, however, this only scratches the surface of the potential opportunities. In the future, the company will make all its electronic appliances web-enabled. “Connectivity will open up new possibilities for all our areas of work. This goes for mobility, for industrial technology, and especially for energy and building technology – also in connection with our consumer goods,” Denner said.
Systematic preparation: activities and partnerships As the world’s leading sensor manufacturer in terms of sales, the web-enabled MEMS sensors supplied by Bosch are a key technical component for connectivity on the internet of things and services. Moreover, at the beginning of the year Bosch set up a subsidiary for the development and sales of connected terminal devices and solutions based on them. Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH is headquartered in Reutlingen, where the electronics competence center is based. The company was originally an innovation cluster. Bosch uses these cross-divisional clusters to develop new business ideas for a connected world. There are further clusters related to connected buildings, connected mobility, and connected energy. For example, Bosch will be working with partner companies to make a software platform available for standardized data exchange in smart homes. “Alliances are key drivers of the trend toward connectivity,” Denner said. Since November 2013, Bosch has been testing technologies that will allow the digital networking of an entire city in the “Monaco 3.0” pilot project. “Our broad footprint and technological expertise, combined with the creativity and motivation of our associates, are absolutely essential for innovation and growth,” Denner said. Apart from exploiting new market opportunities for connected living, Bosch will continue to make use of every opportunity that presents itself for its traditional business.
Volatility calls for agility Driven mainly by internet technologies, the connected world is dynamic, complex, and volatile as well. “The way the internet has risen over the past 20 years, as well as some of its repercussions, could not have been predicted. This will be true of future developments as well. As a result, we have to be fast and agile when dealing with a connected world,” Denner said. Increasingly, therefore, Bosch will be starting up new business activities to test their potential. Here, a key role will be played by Bosch Start-up GmbH, a company recently set up in Ludwigsburg, Germany. It will assume the role of an incubator for new business ideas and models. The team will help Bosch researchers quickly launch products and services. Bosch Start-up GmbH will make things such as infrastructure and business economics know-how available to new units with potential for growth. “An entrepreneurial mindset on the part of all associates and a culture that sees failure as part of the learning process are key factors for success. We want to further encourage and strengthen these factors,” Denner said. “We have to boldly venture into new territory and push back boundaries.
Business developments by business sector and region in 2013 The sales developments of the business sectors are also affected by significant exchange-rate effects. The Automotive Technology and Consumer Goods business sectors are especially hard hit by these effects. Regardless of this, the Automotive Technology business sector developed extremely positively in 2013. Its business with gasoline direct injection and diesel injection systems grew significantly. The Car Multimedia division was very successful with display instruments and infotainment systems. In Industrial Technology, the packaging machinery business was able to record good growth. By contrast, the global weakness of the mechanical engineering sector caused a considerable slump in the Drive and Control Technology division. In Consumer Goods, Bosch was once again successful with power tools in 2013, both for professional and DIY users. Developments in the Energy and Building Technology business sector were overshadowed by the situation in the Solar Energy division, which was again difficult in 2013. The Security Systems division was able to generate strong growth with communications services, while the Thermotechnology division was successful with energy efficient condensing appliances.
Significant sales growth outside Europe The strong euro had significant negative effects on the development of regional sales. Nonetheless, nominal Asia Pacific sales exceeded their previous-year level by some 5 percent. After adjusting for exchange-rate effects, sales growth even reached double digits. In North America, nominal growth was more than 3 percent according to preliminary figures. At roughly minus 3 percent in nominal terms, sales developed negatively in South America. When adjusted for exchange-rate effects, however, sales grew by a high single-digit figure. Despite an economy that remained very weak, nominal sales in Europe grew slightly, by some 2 percent.
Slight increase in headcount in Asia and North America Worldwide, the Bosch Group had a total of some 281,000 associates at the beginning of 2014 (adjusted previous-year figure: 273,000 associates). In current business, headcount increased by roughly 1,000. Most of these new jobs were in Asia and North America.
Moderate economic prospects for 2014 According to current forecasts, Bosch expects the economy to develop moderately in 2014. As things stand at present, global GDP is expected to grow by 2.8 percent. The company sees risks in the further development of the countries affected by the euro crisis, as well as in a further appreciation of the euro. Against this background, the Bosch Group expects sales to grow slightly in 2014, with its earnings situation continuing to improve.
Global standardization thanks to central service center platforms
Documentation, analysis, and optimization of customer processes which will improve service quality
Tailored IT solutions to provide sales support
Frankfurt am Main – By implementing its corporate strategy “Lufthansa Cargo 2020,” Bosch Communication Center is supporting Germany's largest cargo airline. Lufthansa Cargo is reorganizing the structure of its service centers as part of the “Global Sales Support” project. As a general contractor, Bosch is responsible for Lufthansa Cargo service centers worldwide. In addition to managing operations, Bosch is primarily tasked with developing the service center platform. This is achieved by analyzing and optimizing customer processes as well as developing customer-specific IT tools, and reporting and forecasting models. In addition, Bosch will support Lufthansa Cargo's sales team with a comprehensive sales concept in the future.
Service from a single source During the first phase of the project, Bosch Communication Center will take over the operation of the existing global service centers. Gradually linking these service centers together to create a single optimized site concept, this process is based on a shared communication platform. In addition to the Bosch Center in Manila/Philippines, the services are carried out in two other service centers enlisted by Bosch as subcontractors. This in turn benefits Lufthansa Cargo, as having only one contractual partner significantly reduces the administrative expenses. “Thanks to the new structure and a shared platform, we benefit from consistently high quality and uniform standards across all service centers,” explains Tanja Eibich, Director of Sales Processes and Channel Management, and also Project Manager for Global Sales Support at Lufthansa Cargo. “At the same time, the operational stability of this one-stop solution allows us to react more efficiently to weather-related fluctuations, for example.”
Tailored IT solutions The service centers provide both front and back-office services, such as air cargo reservations, cargo information, processing of complaints, processing of electronic booking requests, data acquisition, and reporting. The standardization and automation of internal and external processes is also seen as a priority in order to increase the efficiency of the service center platform as a whole. The Bosch team is carrying out comprehensive analyses to determine optimization potential within the many sub-processes. In doing so, the service provider is relying on tailored IT solutions, some of which are being developed specifically for Lufthansa Cargo as part of the project. This includes a customer dashboard, which is intended to be used as a central sales support tool. According to Tanja Eibich “The customer dashboard supports the platform in its function as a sales channel, as well as supporting internal sales within the Lufthansa Cargo.” All of the available customer and market data is compiled into an intelligent knowledge database and made available to all teams worldwide. “By working together with Bosch, we can access IT solutions that we do not currently have ourselves.” As a result, customer data can be displayed in real time when receiving a call, for example. This allows us to take a personalized and targeted sales approach, while tailoring our bid proposal management process accordingly. Further improvements in sales support are planned for the future, with a designated Bosch sales team taking responsibility for individual Lufthansa Cargo customer groups.
Global network and expertise “Our many years of experience in Business Process Outsourcing for international customers, especially in the tourism and transportation sectors, are instrumental in the planning and implementation of this global project. This expertise was a key factor for Lufthansa Cargo when it came to choosing Bosch,” said Astrid-Karoline Lamm, Head of Sales and Key Account Management for Travel and Transportation at the Bosch Communication Center. “As a result of the holistic approach, the existing service center platform is becoming a standardized global network that meets the demands of Lufthansa Cargo in terms of high-quality, cost-effective customer service.”
New Fort Lauderdale, Fla. location to support automotive, travel and transportation industries
Up to 100 new jobs expected by end of 2014
Frankfurt, Germany and Fort Lauderdale, USA – The Bosch Group, a leading global supplier of technology and services, will open its first North American communication center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in early 2014. At the new location, the business unit Bosch Communication Center, the Group's international service provider, will expand its global network and begin offering a range of services for U.S. and Canada customers. The new service center is expected to generate approximately 100 jobs by the end of 2014.
“The North American market is a key strategic growth market for us. The new location in Fort Lauderdale will provide us a strong operational basis to establish our business in the United States and Canada and effectively support local customers,” says Robert Mulatz, head of Bosch Communication Center.
Services for the automotive, travel and transportation industries In Fort Lauderdale, Bosch Communication Center will focus on services for the automotive industry that increase safety and convenience for drivers and passengers. The international service provider plans to offer a range of services, such as 24/7 emergency call service, roadside assistance as well as customer services for carsharing companies. “Innovative mobility concepts are gaining more importance,” said Mulatz. “Having successfully introduced new mobile solutions in Europe, we now aim to support North American customers with these solutions.”
In addition to the automotive sector, Bosch plans to utilize its service portfolio in Fort Lauderdale to support the travel and transportation industry with customer services as well as security for sea freight. Fort Lauderdale provides a favorable location due to its close proximity to Port Everglades, a major gateway for international trade and third busiest cruise port in the world.
Expansion of international presence Establishment of the new Bosch Communication Center in Fort Lauderdale will increase the business unit's international footprint. Established in 1985 as a monitoring center, Bosch Communication Center has significantly expanded its international network, offering more than 1,000 customers unique services including service and information hotlines, technical and field service support, feedback management, video surveillance and mobile security. Today, some 5,000 Bosch Communication Center associates within 26 locations provide services in more than 30 languages, conducting approximately 90 million transactions across all communication channels.
With the opening of this facility, the Bosch Group also expands its footprint in Broward County. Bosch Thermotechnology North America, a leading provider of water source and geothermal heat pumps, solar thermal systems, tankless water heaters and condensing boilers for residential and commercial applications, employs some 300 associates in Fort Lauderdale.
Investment in traffic infrastructure a requirement for future mobility
Technical potential of traffic management not exploited
Exploratory field tests of solutions and concepts in Germany
Berlin – Franz Fehrenbach, the chairman of the supervisory board of Robert Bosch GmbH, is calling for more investment in an intelligent infrastructure to facilitate future mobility. “The transportation of the future must be realized in Germany first. To enable this, we need more investment – and more sensible investment – in our mobility infrastructure,” Fehrenbach said at the 30th German Logistics Congress in Berlin. Above all, Fehrenbach sees the country lagging behind considerably in the area of traffic infrastructure. Catching up will involve not only bridge repairs and the construction of more freeways, he said. It will also require investments in infrastructure to be oriented toward the fundamental trends in mobility. According to him, electrification, automation, and connectivity are placing new demands on infrastructure. One of these is efficient traffic management. A first step toward this could be made by implementing a road toll, he explained. “The potential offered by traffic management as well as the other technical possibilities of a networked traffic infrastructure are currently still being ignored in public debate,” Fehrenbach said. Instead, the argument is centering on the question of scope and how the revenue generated by a vignette-based road toll system should be used.
Germany: exploit opportunities offered by trend towards connectivity Fehrenbach believes that the global trend toward digital connectivity will also fundamentally transform mobility – and with it, traffic. “We must make Germany a hub for this technology. In order to do this, we need the necessary infrastructure,” he said. The shape of future traffic flow – whether of people or goods – is still to some extent the subject of research. However, the mobility trends of the future are already clear. “Achieving electrified, automated, and connected mobility will only be possible if we create the necessary technological conditions and framework in advance,” Fehrenbach continued. This includes, for example, interfaces between renewable energy and alternative powertrains, telematics services, and the efficient management of traffic flows. “With a modern, integrated system, Germany could further extend its expertise in the realm of intelligent traffic management.” The limited discussion surrounding the topic of a road toll is thus disappointing, he said.
Mobility concepts are an export opportunity In particular, the megacities that are emerging worldwide need new mobility concepts. “Intelligent, resource-conserving, and hence sustainable mobility could be the next big export opportunity for Germany,” Fehrenbach said. However, Germany has up to now been lacking the necessary infrastructure to “field test” new concepts and solutions, he argued. “The role of infrastructure as a vehicle of innovation has been fundamentally underestimated. This has been demonstrated in the discussions about investment priorities and their financing.”
Competition: engine of progress rather than threat to it Fehrenbach currently sees considerable potential for efficiency in many of Germany’s markets and sectors. He believes that in some areas, a lack of competition, state intervention, and over-regulation could be leading to a lack of transparency, inefficiency, and undesirable market developments. “Competition is perceived as a threat rather than as an engine of progress,” Fehrenbach emphasized. Only by strengthening the principles of Germany’s social market economy will the country’s future as an industrial location be assured. “Competition as a core element of a social market economy guarantees progress, growth, and thus prosperity.”
Shaping the future: no letting up now With respect to the coalition negotiations between the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, Fehrenbach pointed to the great need for reform which continues to exist in Germany. He warned against letting Germany’s momentarily strong economy divert attention away from the real challenges. “If we let up on shaping the future now, we will fall behind globally.”
About the German Logistics Congress The German Logistics Congress has been staged by the German Logistics Association (BVL) since 1983. It has become the most important annual logistics event in Europe. It is an important forum for German industry. The share of international participants is constantly increasing. The anniversary event is taking place from October 23–25, 2013, in Berlin.
More information on the event and the BVL is available online.