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.
SolarWorld plans to take over production of cells and modules
Second investor plans to manufacture pharmaceutical products at the Arnstadt location
Bosch intends to manufacture an automotive product in Arnstadt in the future
Realization of the entire concept subject to approval by the antitrust authorities as well as to other framework conditions.
Stuttgart/Arnstadt – Bosch plans to sell its Arnstadt manufacturing operations for cells and modules to SolarWorld AG. The buyer intends to employ roughly 800 associates. An agreement to this effect was signed today. A second investor plans to lease shopfloor space in order to manufacture pharmaceutical products under clean-room conditions. This would create roughly 100 jobs. A declaration of intent has already been signed.
Bosch intends to relocate the manufacture of an automotive electronic product from the Bosch location in Hatvan, Hungary, to Arnstadt, as well as to set up a service organization and a trading company for handling existing obligations. Over the medium term, this may preserve roughly 250 further jobs. The realization of the entire concept is subject, among other things, to approval by the antitrust authorities. The parties have agreed not to disclose any of the conditions of the agreement.
In the weeks ahead, Bosch and the investors still have to conclude extensive preliminary work. This includes the necessary negotiations with the employee representatives.
Solution for the Arnstadt location SolarWorld has drawn up a business plan for the Arnstadt plant that envisions a central, lasting role for the Arnstadt location as part of the SolarWorld group. Bosch will now quickly start negotiations with employee representatives to discuss the practical implementation of the plan. Earlier this year, it was possible to give the location’s 91 apprentices a guarantee that they could complete their training in other vocational programs, both within and outside Bosch.
“This makes it likely that we can offer jobs to roughly 1,100 of our presently 1,500 associates in Arnstadt. The negotiation process was a lengthy one. But if the deals are put into practice as planned, it will allow us to give a great majority of associates a perspective. We have invested a lot of time and considerable sums of money in making this possible,” says Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. “Instead of closure, our aim was to find purchasers with a viable industrial concept and a good reputation, and that take a long-term view that offers prospects for the future,” Denner says, explaining Bosch’s approach. “With today’s signing, we have reached an important milestone,” he adds. “However, various conditions still have to be satisfied before this solution can be put into practice. They include final signing with the investor from the pharmaceuticals industry and successful talks with employee representatives.”
Complex framework conditions In March 2013, Bosch announced it was ending its activities in crystalline photovoltaics. “In order to preserve as many jobs as possible, we cast our net wide in our search for an investor. We mainly looked for buyers involved solely in photovoltaics. In addition, we approached many companies from outside the industry. Within Bosch as well, we made great efforts to find products that could be manufactured in Arnstadt,” says Dr. Stefan Hartung, member of the supervisory board of Bosch Solar Energy AG and the member of the Bosch board of management responsible for the Energy and Building Technology business sector. In its search for a solution, Bosch received constructive support from the Thuringian state government and the Thuringian development corporation.
Further negotiations Attempts are being made to find comparable solutions for the module factory in Vénissieux, France. Bosch is holding talks with investors from the photovoltaics industry as well as other industries. Here too, Bosch is examining the possibility of manufacturing a product from a different division at the location in the future.
As already announced at the beginning of October 2013, the search continues for a buyer for the stake Bosch holds in its subsidiary aleo solar AG, based in Oldenburg and Prenzlau, Germany. It is also working with the directors of aleo to examine all the options available. These include the complete or partial sale of the operative business of the aleo solar group. Whether and when a transaction will come to a successful conclusion remains to be seen.
As already announced in March 2013, Bosch Solar CIS Tech GmbH in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany, and Bosch Power Tec GmbH in Hamburg will continue to be run as before.
Premium modules with half-cell design and increased output up to 290 Wp
New frame concept with self-cleaning effect and greater mechanical stability for pressure loads of up to 7200 Pa
Intelligent switch-off concept: Enhanced safety for installers and emergency workers during transport and in hazardous situations
Munich – Bosch is to present a wealth of innovations at Intersolar Europe 2013 from June 19 to 21 including powerful modules with a new frame concept and the intelligent automatic switch-off concept for photovoltaic modules. Bosch Solar Energy will present these new products at five showcases. The Bosch booth will also feature intelligent storage solutions as well as Bosch inverters and integrated energy concepts.
Bosch Solar Module c-Si M 60+ S – more output and improved product design Featuring a new generation of cells, the new premium module with a black half-cell design consisting of 120 half monocrystalline high-performance solar cells is also equipped with a burned-in anti-reflection coating on its micro-structured, toughened front glass. These features increase light absorption and allow module output of up to 285 Wp. A highly transparent encapsulant provides more exposure to light, while innovative structured cell connectors reduce electrical and optical losses in the module and therefore also increase output.
New frame with improved self-cleaning effect facilitates installation The black premium module has a new frame featuring many innovations which particularly facilitate its installation and maintenance. Optimized ergonomics ensure easier handling during installation. The use of a central bar improves the stability of the frame, offers a variety of mounting options and enables the module to withstand pressure loads of up to 7200 Pa.
The module frame also features drainage corners. These allow rainwater to flow away at the lower corners and therefore enhance module self-cleaning, preventing soiling and moss in the lower section – frequent causes of reduced output. The drainage corners also provide additional grounding options.
Launch of white high-output module – series production in Arnstadt starting summer 2013 Series production of a half-cell module with white and silver components is to commence this summer in Arnstadt. Because the white rear encapsulant is more reflective than the black encapsulant, this module has an even greater output of up to 290 Wp. It also features the highly transparent encapsulant with structured cell connectors and a burned-in anti-reflection coating on the micro-structured, toughened front glass.
In addition, Bosch Solar Energy is working at its Arnstadt plant on further development of cell generations. The first module prototypes which are based on the new cells already showed peak power of around 300 Wp. A prototype module with 72 cells was currently tested with a peak power of 360 Wp.
New concept for automatic switch-off of photovoltaic modules Intelligent electronics in the junction box of every photovoltaic module ensure automatic switch-off of individual modules and the whole solar system if the building's power supply is interrupted (e.g. by the fire department). Compared to conventional Schottky diodes, the active bypass diodes used in the module junction boxes significantly reduce heat production in the event of shading (bypass incident). Unlike conventional switch-off solutions, the new Bosch concept automatically controls re-start.
This solution complies with a new VDE security rule of application. In Germany it is valid for the planning and construction of PV systems at or on buildings since May 2013. The rule determines how to prevent dangerous voltage, in case of fire for example.
All Bosch products will be on display at Booth 270, Hall A2 at Intersolar Europe in Munich from June 19 to 21, 2013.
Information on Bosch’s withdrawal from the field of crystalline photovoltaics On March 22, 2013, Robert Bosch GmbH announced that it will pull out of the crystalline photovoltaic business field by the beginning of 2014. The aim is to sell the business outright or in individual sub-divisions, if possible.
Activities at Bosch Solar Energy are continuing at present, support for business partners is assured, and your familiar contacts remain available.
The latest information about our products, product and performance warranties and image material are available on the internet at www.bosch-solarenergy.com
Bosch Solar Energy is showcasing a new switch-off concept at the Intersolar trade fair
Intelligent switch-off solution increases safety for installers and emergency services
Arnstadt – This year's Intersolar sees Bosch Solar Energy showcasing a new automatic switch-off concept for solar modules. The system consists of module electronics in specially optimized module junction boxes and control units for commercial and residential applications. The solution allows a disconnection of the modules during hazardous situations. Besides, the modules are delivered in a voltage-free state, so that they can be transported and installed with no risk of electric shocks for installers. This means that not only emergency services benefit from the switch-off during fault or emergency events like fire and flood, but also installers when installing or maintaining the system.
Intelligent electronics in each junction box ensure an automatic switch-off of the individual modules and the whole system when the building mains supply is interrupted, by the fire service, for example. The switch-off function can also be activated by an external control signal from installations such as a fire alarm system control panel or an emergency switch. Unlike conventional switch-off solutions, the new Bosch concept automatically initializes a subsequent re-start once the critical situation has ended. In this way, full yield is ensured after a safety-relevant switch-off.
The system has been developed in collaboration with different business-units across the Bosch Group, using expertise from divisions such as Automotive Electronics. Compared to conventional Schottky diodes active bypass diodes in the module junction boxes substantially reduce production heat in the event of shading (bypass incident). Prototypes have proven their worth when used in the field and successfully passed numerous tests.
The solution can be used for all standard solar module types, both monocrystalline and multicrystalline. In many cases, there is no need to retool machines to integrate the solution into the module production process. In addition to a general improvement in solar power system safety, the new Bosch Solar Energy solution concept also ensures that solar power systems comply with different industrial standards and guidelines which already apply or are in preparation.
The concept is available for purchase due to Bosch's decision to cease crystalline photovoltaics operations. It is being showcased at Booth 270 in Hall A2 at this year's Intersolar trade fair in Munich between June 19 and 21. Other Bosch highlights at the trade fair are the new black premium solar module, the white high-performance module and the new frame concept.
Information on Bosch's plan to cease crystalline photovoltaics operations On March 22, 2013, Robert Bosch GmbH announced that it will cease its operations in crystalline photovoltaics by the beginning of 2014. The operations or its individual parts are to be sold as far as possible.
Activities in the Bosch Solar Energy Division are continuing to operate, customer support for business partners is assured and established contacts are still available for use.