Keba focuses on innovation and R&D and increases sales by 30%

In the most recent financial year (April 2021 – March 2022), the Linz-based KEBA Group increased its turnover from 415.4 million euros to 537.7 million euros. With a increased sales of around 122 million euros and a growth of almost 30%, the KEBA Group once again achieved the highest turnover in its history. Looking back at the past five years, the average annual growth is 22.7% (CAGR). The proportion of international activities remains high at around 90%. About 67% were delivered within the EU (excluding Austria) and about 13% to Asia.

Research and development is of fundamental importance for a technology company like KEBA. They are the basis for the company’s future success and for the technological positioning on the market. As a result, the KEBA Group invests a significant part of its annual turnover in research and development (R&D). Last year R&D expenditure was around 70 million euros.

Based on full-time employment, the KEBA Group had 1,963 employees (FTE) at the end of the year. In terms of personnel, KEBA has already passed 2,000 employees.
In addition, the company currently employs around 180 project employees to cover peak loads.
About half of employees work in Austria, a third in Germany and around 200 in Asia. 37 apprentices in six different job profiles are currently being trained at the Linz location. Our specialists are also trained in other industries. In addition, up to 25 young people are trained in various professions in various locations in Germany.

Strong growth despite the pandemic

The increase in turnover in the last financial year was 30%. A look at the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the last 5 years shows a similar continuity of 22.7%.

KEBA attributes growth continues to the following factors:

  • For more than 20 years, KEBA has dealt with internationalization and is constantly expanding its presence on the market in the reference countries.
  • The automation expert immediately focuses on growing markets dealing with the future and sustainable solutions.
  • KEBA benefits from the diversity of its areas of activity. These serve different sectors and are subject to different economic cycles. This factor has once again proven to be the basis of success, especially in recent years.
  • As a technology company, KEBA continuously invests in research and development and places great emphasis on its capacity for innovation.
  • KEBA has oneflat and flexible organization with a high degree of personal responsibility, which allows for quick and decentralized decisions and can therefore quickly adapt to the needs of the market.

Success with 3 pillars

Since the autumn of the last financial year, KEBA’s three business areas – Industrial Automation, Handover Automation and Energy Automation – are independent companies and manage operations within the KEBA group. However, they continue to appear under the strong joint KEBA brand and utilize the group’s synergies.

  • Industrial automation develops and produces automation solutions consisting of hardware and software for machines and robots. The solutions range from operation to control and from safety technology to drive technology. These solutions are used in various sectors within mechanical engineering and robotics.
  • Automation of handover is a specialist in transfer solutions. These allow for secure, contactless transfer of cash, packages or goods as well as controlled access to shared objects. These solutions are known, for example, as ATMs in financial institutions or as automatic parcel machines at postal and logistics companies and as automated teller machines in car dealers, the judiciary or the health sector.
  • Energy automation is one of the pioneers in charging solutions for electric cars. With the wall boxes, you can not only charge electric cars in a safe and reliable way, but also connect them, thanks to a wide range of interfaces, to different systems, such as a solar system. Another strength of this business area is in heat management for heat pumps and biomass heating systems.

The three business areas have different characteristics. Industrial Automation focuses on the OEM area (Original Equipment Manufacturer). With the production of self-service machines, Handover Automation is in the project industry. Energy Automation, on the other hand, with its wall boxes for electric cars and heating management systems, is a serial activity that aims to satisfy the end customer.

Gerhard Luftensteiner, CEO of KEBA Group AG

To be able to adapt optimally to these different market needs, it is important to enable different approaches, processes or sales channels. Thanks to separate areas of responsibility, KEBA can service the sectors even more specifically and act even more in favor of the customer. Furthermore, the ability to make decisions in the most decentralized way, quickly and purposefully and to implement them immediately, fully reflects KEBA’s agile organizational understanding.
KEBA Group AG is responsible for the general orientation of KEBA and for the strategic and financial management of the entire group group.

New branch in Great Britain, strongly positioned internationally

With 26 branches in 16 countries and 8 production sites of various sizes in 4 countries (Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, China), the group has a good capillary network throughout the national territory, to be present to its customers in all markets, even in times of travel restrictions.
KEBA has also had its own subsidiary in the UK since the beginning of the year. This aims to expand market access and support sales activities.

Growth in the KEBA Group

Furthermore, at the end of 2021, KEBA took over the company from features and bot software based in Stuttgart, Germany. The start-up develops an innovative control system for machines and robots. With this recent acquisition, KEBA strengthens its position in industrial automation and strategically integrates its product portfolio with innovative and flexible automation software.

Expansion of production capacity and offices in Linz

To cope with the increased production capacity brought about by the growth, earlier than expected investment was made in another high-performance electronic production line, including the test infrastructure at the Urfahr business park headquarters.

Accordingly, the production areas for the assembly of units in the second production site in Industriezeile has been expanded again and now measures around 30,000 m2.
The need for office space has also increased. Part of the former Haberkorn building in the Linz business district was completely renovated last year and converted into a modern office building.

Preparations for the new KEBA headquarters at Technologiering in Leonding / Pasching are underway and planned. An architectural competition is currently underway. The start of the works foreseen in the current perspective will take place at the end of 2023.

The challenge of material procurement

The purchasing area was managed by availability of material in the most recent financial year. In addition to the volatility in the markets due to the Corona virus pandemic, last year the semiconductor crisis made demands on KEBA’s supply chain. The shortage of semiconductors is a global problem and affects industrial companies worldwide. Reduced transport capacity (air and sea transport) also continues to have a significant impact on global supply chains.

KEBA Industrial Automation; command and control of robots

KEBA has focused its efforts on delivery capacity and in early 2021 it set up an internal task force. This is constantly engaged in the generation of short- and medium-term solutions and in the optimal planning of the supply according to the circumstances. KEBA was naturally also in close contact with its suppliers and customers throughout the period in order to jointly find solutions. In such a difficult situation, KEBA’s agile working methods and flat organization proved to be very useful because decisions could be made quickly. In this way, it was possible to largely guarantee the availability of materials and thereforeproductive purchasing. However, this was also made possible through higher priced acquisitions. Despite the difficult situation, KEBA can count on a high delivery capacity.

Over 2,000 employees in the KEBA group

In the last financial year alone, the international company has grown by 225 employees, most of them in Austria. KEBA thus reaches the threshold of 2,000 employees.
To continue the planned growth path, more specialists are needed. Some new employees have already been hired in recent weeks, and around 130 more will follow in the coming months, most of them in Linz. It seeks the entire staff of software developers, product managers, calibration engineers, sales personnel, marketing or financial experts and production personnel.

Of course, recruiting is challenging and takes time and effort. Basically, many upper Austrian companies are looking for staff. What attracts and draws the most to KEBA is the new organizational form of the company, which gives the opportunity to really get involved, take responsibility and follow their strengths. Future-oriented industries are also important for applicants.

Perspectives

KEBA assumes that it is fundamentally active in growth markets with its 3 business areas and that there is a corresponding demand for its solutions. As in recent years, some basic dynamics are expected, but in principle one quickly gets used to the modified structure. However, the revenue the company can achieve this year also depends to a large extent on the availability of materials.

Photo: KEBA photo rights
Top: KEBA Business Board from left to right: Christoph Knogler, CEO of KEBA Energy Automation GmbH; Gerhard Weidinger, CTO of KEBA Energy Automation GmbH; Andreas Schoberleitner, CFO KEBA Group AG; Markus Schatz, CEO of KEBA Industrial Automation GmbH; Gerhard Luftensteiner, CEO of KEBA Group AG; Martin Schwarz, CSO KEBA Industrial Automation GmbH; Elena Turda, CSO KEBA Handover Automation GmbH; Jürgen Kusper, CEO of KEBA Handover Automation GmbH; Franz Höller, CTO KEBA Group AG

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