DEKRA investiert in sichere Digitalisierung
Expert organisation calls for increased regulation and independent audits
- Worries over deaths caused by driverless cars
- Cyber risks require rethinking
- DEKRA establishes global testing network for secure mobility
- Record 150 million euro investments focus on digitisation
- Sales in 2017 increased by 8 percent to over 3.1 billion euros
- Number of employees increased by 4,700 to over 44,000
DEKRA believes that cyber security and sophisticated technical security will become critical success factors, especially in the field of networked and automated driving. “Due to the many advantages offered, people are willing to hand over more and more control and responsibility to technology,” said DEKRA’s CEO Stefan Kölbl to journalists in Stuttgart. “However, our health and our data must remain safe - and at the moment that is not always the case”. Against this background, the globally active expert organisation has expanded its position as a digital safety expert. Of DEKRA’s total investments of 150 million euros in 2017, the bulk went into strengthening digital testing expertise. This contributed to the company’s 14th consecutive year of growth. Consolidated sales rose sharply by 8.0 percent to more than 3.1 billion euros, while the adjusted operating income (EBIT) rose by 15.5 million euros to 236.1 million euros. The number of employees surpassed the 40,000 mark for the first time, increasing significantly by 4,700 to 44,057. As the largest unlisted company in the so-called TIC sector (testing, inspection, certification), in the last ten years DEKRA has doubled both its turnover (an increase of almost 1.7 billion euros), and its workforce (an increase of more than 25,000 employees).
Whether in the field of automated mobility, smart homes, Industry 4.0 or modern working environments, the benefits of digital transformation are undeniable. However, the level of security is not keeping pace with the rapid technological development. Data leaks and data theft, deaths caused by driverless vehicles, bugging scandals in children’s bedrooms, and out-of-control robots - the negative headlines surrounding digitisation are mounting. “We need a clear set of rules at the global level as well as mature, tried-and-tested technology. Otherwise we’re not just playing with people’s privacy, but with their lives”, explains DEKRA boss Stefan Kölbl.
In order to protect human life, DEKRA is demanding new security standards for all internet-enabled products, in line with increased networking and ever-increasing cyber risks. The expert organisation therefore welcomes the European Commission's proposal for a regulation on cyber security. Equally important in DEKRA’s opinion is the authorised access to data generated by networked and, in the future, increasingly automated vehicles. “This is the only way that expert organisations like DEKRA can reliably fulfil their security mandate as independent third parties in the digital age”, stresses Kölbl. “We therefore welcome the future EU regulation of type approval, which, among other things, will require car manufacturers to provide safety and environmental vehicle data for periodic monitoring. Ongoing random inspections of new cars which have already been approved will provide increased consumer protection. Both measures are important steps in the right direction”.
International testing network for secure mobility in the future
For DEKRA, secure mobility has been the founders’ mission ever since the beginnings of motorisation almost 100 years ago. Last year, the company gave high priority to the establishment of an international testing network focusing on the mobility of the future, with competence centres in Klettwitz (Germany), Malaga (Spain) and Hsinchu (Taiwan). The acquisition of the Lausitzring close to the DEKRA Technology Centre in Klettwitz is consistent with this strategy. Kölbl explains the purchase: “The Lausitzring is Europe's largest manufacturer-independent testing and inspection track for automated and networked driving”. He adds: “Automation and connectivity are becoming increasingly important for secure mobility. That’s why at Klettwitz and Malaga we offer our automotive customers comprehensive testing and development services for the autonomous, connected mobility of the future.” One example of the TIC services (testing, inspection and certification) on offer from a single source is the eCall automatic emergency call: in Klettwitz, among other things, the crash tests include functional tests and type approval. The Malaga site runs tests for secure, reliable communications and trouble-free electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).The test area in Malaga, which opened in November 2017, focuses on product testing in the early stages of development, as well as the testing of so-called V2X technologies (vehicle-to-everything) as well as the associated standardisation requirements. Since the beginning of 2017, Hsinchu has been home to DEKRA’s largest laboratory for services related to autonomous and electric mobility. It is playing a key role in the expansion of the automotive testing market in Asia.
Further expansion of digital testing services
In view of the rapidly growing importance of connectivity and cyber security worldwide, DEKRA has strengthened its position through acquisitions and partnerships, for example by taking over Spanish company Epoche & Espri. The company evaluates and tests products in accordance with internationally recognised IT security standards. Customers include developers, manufacturers and service providers. By adding Epoche & Espri’s services to its portfolio, DEKRA is expanding its offering in sectors such as consumer goods as well as medical and automotive technology. Cybersecurity already plays an integral part in the testing of smart products. With the help of Epoche & Espri, DEKRA can now meet the extended testing and inspection requirements for functional safety.
DEKRA's digital strategy also includes getting involved with innovative companies and start-ups, such as consulting company Magility. The consulting firm based near Stuttgart helps its customers to develop digital products, processes and business models. In addition, at the beginning of this year DEKRA founded DEKRA Digital GmbH with the goal of promoting digital transformation.
DEKRA Automotive: market leadership consolidated
In 2017, DEKRA Automotive continued to play a key role in the DEKRA Group’s success. Sales rose by 3.8 percent to almost 1.6 billion euros. This value was also supplemented by periodic industrial testing services provided by DEKRA Automobil GmbH in Germany. Due to ongoing demand, among other things for elevator and pressure vessel testing, in 2017 this segment once again showed significant growth despite the highly competitive environment, increasing by around 13 percent to 169 million euros. In three years, sales in this segment have increased by 49 million euros, a growth of over 40 percent. Overall, DEKRA Automobil GmbH’s business grew in 2017: sales increased by 5.5 percent to a total of 1.2 billion euros. DEKRA has strengthened its position in the core business of vehicle inspections and appraisals by expanding its network of test sites and improving its processes. With approximately 11 million inspections per year and a market share of about 34 per cent for roadworthiness tests, DEKRA remains the number one test organisation in Germany.
In addition, with around 26 million vehicle inspections annually, DEKRA is by far the market leader worldwide. From this position of strength, in 2017 the company focused on further international expansion. For example, after entering the Portuguese market in 2016, DEKRA’s network of test centres in the country was considerably expanded through the acquisition of MasterTest. DEKRA operates 14 test centres in Portugal, making it one of the top three providers. In markets such as France, Sweden, South Africa, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, DEKRA’s testing and other automotive services developed positively. At the end of 2017, it also succeeded in entering the vehicle testing market in Luxembourg. DEKRA also continues to expand in the United States. In April of this year, it took over exhaust emissions test company Jiffy Smog in the US state of Nevada, thus acquiring 24 test centres in Las Vegas and the surrounding area.
DEKRA Industrial: success in established and emerging markets
DEKRA Industrial further expanded its position in future fields in the 2017 financial year, which turned out to be a wise investment. Sales increased by 5.3 percent to almost 900 million euros. This included sales of 169 million euros from industrial services provided by DEKRA Automobil GmbH in German mass affluent markets. “The year was characterised by good organic growth, supplemented by strategic acquisitions in existing and emerging markets,” says Stefan Kölbl.
In the electricity and energy sector, DEKRA acquired the VEIKI-VNL high-voltage test laboratory in Budapest (Hungary). The company tests and certifies equipment for power transmission and distribution. Customers include well-known manufacturers from 40 countries all over the world. “VEIKI-VNL’s competences and services are ideally suited to DEKRA. This will significantly strengthen our position in the power and energy segments”, said the DEKRA CEO. In addition, in 2017 DEKRA also succeeded in entering the power station testing market in the United States through the acquisition of Core Visual Inspection Services in Charlotte, North Carolina. “This acquisition is a logical step in our strategy of offering our core services globally and establishing a presence in the growth markets of North America and Asia-Pacific”, states DEKRA CEO Stefan Kölbl. In 2017, DEKRA further committed to its role as a pioneer and visionary by deepening its innovation partnership with the Fraunhofer ILO and IPA institutes. The partnership’s aim is to develop innovative occupational health and safety concepts in the age of Industry 4.0, and to improve the cooperation between humans and machines in order to prevent accidents at work. A bandsaw with intelligent sensor technology is just one example of how new ideas and products can help to avoid accidents. “With the help of digitisation, we want to make long-term improvements to the active prevention of accidents where humans and machines coincide”, says the DEKRA boss.
Using innovative methods based on the latest neuroscientific research, the DEKRA Insight consulting division improves safety in its customers’ facilities. One such example of this is the brain-centric reliability system. In this approach, all measures and training specifically use the way the human brain works to trigger safe behaviour and heighten awareness among employees in order to prevent workplace accidents.
DEKRA Personnel: strong growth dynamic
At DEKRA Personnel, the strong market position and the stable economic situation in Germany and many European countries are evident. Sales in 2017 increased significantly by 24.8 percent to 650 million euros. DEKRA Arbeit achieved particularly strong growth, thus underpinning its position as the seventh largest employer of temporary workers in Germany. It was also very successful internationally. Around twelve million euros of the growth in sales was attributable to the DEKRA Academy, one of the largest private educational institutions in Germany with more than 150,000 students annually.
The DEKRA Safety Web digital training portal is on course for growth due to high demand, among other things for driving lessons for a range of vehicle licences used by the company.
In view of the shortage of skilled workers, the DEKRA Academy “Expert Migration” programme is proving a great success. Technical and linguistic training courses are held in Eastern Europe with a view to training specialists primarily for the nursing sector, and increasingly also for the IT industry, in the country of origin. After completing their studies successfully, participants then come to Germany with the firm promise of a job. Currently, more than 2,500 participants are in training. In 2017, more than 1,000 trained nurses started work in Germany. As of 2018, the programme will train around 1,500 nurses every year. “DEKRA is the only further education institution that provides people with comprehensive technical and linguistic training which leads to state-recognised qualifications in Germany”, says Stefan Kölbl.
In addition to its home market of Germany, DEKRA Arbeit is successfully active in 14 other European countries. In 2017, it expanded into Bulgaria. The international expansion will continue in 2018: DEKRA will enter Austria at the beginning of the year, and France will follow shortly. In 2017, DEKRA Arbeit employed more than 17,000 temporary workers.
A positive outlook for 2018: DEKRA helps to shape digital transformation
In the financial year 2017, DEKRA worked intensively on expanding its strong competitive position. The expert organisation is set to continue on its course of dynamic growth. In 2018, DEKRA expects positive business development and a 15th consecutive year of growth. DEKRA CEO Stefan Kölbl: “DEKRA is involved in shaping the digital transformation of society and the economy, above all when it comes to one particular issue: security. We support the development of the necessary inspection standards, and ensure safety in the digital world through our innovative testing and certification services.”
DEKRA has had safety at its core for more than 90 years. The German Motor Vehicle Surveillance Association (Deutschen Kraftfahrzeug-Überwachungs-Verein e.V. or DEKRA) was founded in Berlin in 1925, and it has since become one of the world's leading expert organisations. DEKRA SE is a wholly owned subsidiary of DEKRA e.V. and controls the Group's operations. In 2017, DEKRA generated sales of around € 3.1 billion. More than 44,000 employees are deployed in more than 50 countries on all five continents. By providing qualified and independent expert services, they work to ensure safety in traffic, in the workplace, and at home. The service portfolio ranges from vehicle inspections and expert opinions to claims settlement, industrial and construction auditing, security consulting, as well as the testing and certification of products and systems, to training courses and temporary employment. DEKRA’s vision for its 100th anniversary in 2025 is to become a global partner for a safer world.