Business model and strategy
The Komax Group offers its customers cutting-edge technical solutions for automated wire processing in four market segments – automotive, aerospace, data/telecom, and industrial – and continuously strives to improve its competitiveness.
The global megatrends result in more and new types of wire being installed in vehicles. These will act as key drivers of the steady rise in demand for automation solutions for reasons of quality, efficiency, complexity, cost, miniaturization, and traceability.
Emission reduction and electromobility
Growing environmental awareness on the part of consumers and the associated goal of emission-free vehicles are among the megatrends that will support the Komax Group's business in the long term. A key role will be played in this respect by e-mobility.
Growing connectivity in vehicles
Another megatrend is increasing interconnectedness. Infotainment systems in vehicles are becoming increasingly comprehensive and complex, while integrated information systems are laying the basis for the future: autonomous driving.
The need for greater road traffic safety represents a further megatrend. Here the emphasis is now no longer just on protection in the event of an accident, but above all on avoiding accidents. As a consequence, the number of sensors in vehicles will continue to rise.
Cost efficiency for affordable vehicles
Finally, a global megatrend towards affordable vehicles is emerging. This requires greater cost efficiency in manufacturing, which in turn is increasing the pressure to automate wire processing further.
These trends support the Komax Group's business and offer long-term growth opportunities:
Rising number of vehicles being manufactured
The Komax Group generates around 75% of its revenues through customers in the automotive industry. The number of vehicles being manufactured is therefore an important growth dribver for the company. After the slump of 2019/2020, global automotive manufacturing is back on a growth trajectory. Some 82 million cars and light commercial vehicles were manufactured worldwide in 2022. Market analysts are anticipating an average annual growth rate of around 3% over the next four years.
More wires per vehicle
Innovations in vehicle construction, new functionalities, and an ever-rising fit-out level in all vehicle classes are leading to a further increase in demand for wires and crimp contacts in the automotive industry. This trend, which has been perceptible for a number of years now, will strengthen further in the future. Accordingly, the number of wires that need to be assembled per vehicle is on the rise.
Simplification of the wiring harness and miniaturization
Wire harnesses in vehicles are becoming increasingly complex, which presents challenges for automatic production. Therefore, automotive manufacturers are seeking to simplify the wire harness. Zonal electrical systems with several smaller wire harnesses rather than one big one will reduce wire length, but not necessarily the number of wires used, and this is the key element for the Komax Group. Simpler wire harnesses with shorter wires will help significantly increase the degree of automation in processing. Another factor driving automation is the ongoing miniaturization of wires, which makes manual processing increasingly difficult or even impossible.
Long-term trend toward automation intact
These key factors are driving the business of the Komax Group on a long-term basis. A large part of the wire harness manufacturing process is still done by hand, but rising wage costs, an increasing lack of personnel and sources of error caused by the increasing complexity support investments in automation. Intelligent automation solutions, quality assurance tools, and systems for testing harnesses help to guarantee efficiency and reliability of the production process. Therefore, automotive manufacturers, increasingly calling on their suppliers to further automate their production processes.
Customers are aware that there is no way of side-stepping the trend toward automation. In the coming years, too, global megatrends will contribute to the stage-by-stage increase in the automation of wire processing.
The Komax Group offers its customers cutting-edge technical solutions for automated wire processing in four market segments, and continuously strives to improve its competitiveness. Above-average profitability and sustainable growth are important objectives here. This goes hand in hand with environmentally conscious, socially aware, and responsible conduct towards all stakeholder groups. To achieve its goals, the Komax Group pursues four key strategic priorities:
The Komax Group primarily aims to grow organically. In addition, potential candidates and opportunities for acquisitions are carefully examined as part of a clearly defined acquisition strategy that revolves around its four key strategic priorities. The acquisitions completed in recent years have played a significant role in the implementation of these strategic priorities. The combination with the Schleuniger Group in 2022 was a historic moment and has enabled significant progress with all four key priorities.
The Komax Group primarily focuses on four market segments. The core business is the automotive market segment, which accounts for some 75% of revenues.
This is by far the most important market segment for the Komax Group. In no other industry is the volume of wires to be processed so large. With 70 to 90 million vehicles currently produced each year, each of which contains an average of around 1,600 wires with 2,600 crimp contacts, the demand for automation solutions is enormous. An increase in electrical functions further accelerates demand. And there is still plenty of potential for additional automation steps, as wire harnesses are still manufactured by hand to a large extent.
The transfer of large volumes of data and the permanent networking of people have become standard practice in the data/telecom market segment. The wiring used for these applications is being increasingly used in vehicles too, as cars become ever more interconnected, with comprehensive information systems that will facilitate autonomous driving in the future. The Komax Group can therefore also use the experience gained from the data/telecom market segment in the automotive segment.
Safety, lightweight construction, and lower emissions have been at the forefront of developments in aerospace. The barriers to entry are very high for suppliers and there is still very little automation of wire processing in the industry. The Komax Group boasts a great deal of aerospace knowhow. It can draw on the experience gained in these areas when it comes to its core business too, as these themes continue to gain in importance in the automotive industry.
The processing of wires for industrial applications such as control cabinets often involves working with very small batches. To ensure that automation is nevertheless a cost-efficient option for control cabinet manufacturers, Komax has developed specific machines of the Zeta type. Automated wire processing is now increasingly finding its way into industrial applications. For the purpose of optimizing the available potential for automating control cabinet construction even more, the Komax Group founded the Smart Cabinet Building Initiative together with other technology leaders.
In all market segments, customers benefit from the Komax Group’s global distribution and service network. The Komax Group has created an international service agreement concept in the form of Komax Care, which helps customers get the very best out of their machine investments in respect of productivity, availability, and quality. Komax Care allows individual service packages to be put together that are optimally tailored to the needs of customers. The offering includes the Komax Academy, which provides a modular training program at three levels of competence and, in addition, over 100 online training courses.
One of the key success factors of the Komax Group is its strong brand. Brand strategy is therefore a vital element in the implementation of the overall strategy of the Komax Group. 2022, a rebranding process was carried out in the Komax Group:
Acquisitions along the value chain
Following various acquisitions over the past few years, the Komax Group has developed into a provider of solutions and services along the entire value chain. As a result,the companies and products that lie behind the individual brands have converged more and more. This should also be reflected in terms of the visual image. To this end, the brands Artos, Exmore, Kabatec, Laselec, Thonauer, and TSK that existed prior to the combination with Schleuniger were relinquished, with the focus shifting to the Komax brand.
Multi-brand strategy with Schleuniger
As a result of the combination with Schleuniger, the Komax Group will adopt a multi-brand strategy over the coming years. In addition to the Schleuniger brand, the company has now also acquired the adaptronic, Cirris, and DiIT brands. The positioning of the individual brands is set to be defined more sharply in alignment with the development of the Komax Group’s new strategy.
For a market leader like the Komax Group, the ability to roll out innovations on an ongoing basis and thereby enable its customers to gain genuine competitive advantages is of the utmost strategic importance. For that reason, the Komax Group channels some 8–9% of its revenues into research and development every year. The combination with Schleuniger is now opening up further avenues of opportunity.
Since 2018, the Komax Group has spent CHF 212.4 million on research & development, securing a leading position from which to further drive forward the automation of wire processing and actively shape the transition underway in the automotive industry. For the Komax Group this represents a form of decisive investment in an opportunity to leverage additional unique selling propositions and to secure the company’s future.
The Komax Group supports an accelerated shift towards e-mobility. From the Komax Group’s perspective this is a promising development that offers an opportunity to share in this growth, thanks both to the company’s portfolio of high-voltage cable processing solutions and to the fact that new electric vehicle models frequently feature state-of-the-art driver assistance systems – as a basis for autonomous driving – as well as infotainment technology. All these systems require a large number of special cables, creating additional sales opportunities for the Komax Group. The company is very well positioned to accommodate these developments and is instrumental in supporting it with innovative solutions.
Digital transformation is of major strategic importance for the Komax Group, and is the target of significant investment. These investments will pay off in the medium and long term, securing both profitability and technology leadership.
SMART FACTORY by KOMAX
Despite the increasing complexity, Komax Group customers have to deliver sustained high quality while keeping costs as low as possible. To make this possible, the Komax Group provides its customers the SMART FACTORY by KOMAX, which encompasses products and solutions that substantially reduce quality costs and significantly increase wire processing productivity. In this way, the Komax Group – together with its customers – is providing consumers with intelligent products that are not only continuously improving, but also operate reliably and are affordable.
Collaboration on various initiatives
Komax actively helps shape technological change through its participation in joint projects. For example, there is plenty of automation potential in the area of control cabinet construction. In order to exploit this potential, Komax launched the Smart Cabinet Building Initiative in 2020 together with leading technology companies. The objective is to combine technology and expertise to ensure holistic solutions across all process steps for the present and future challenges facing the control cabinet construction segment. The areas of expertise of the five partners complement each other ideally. In the area of digitalization the Komax Group collaborates with various leading companies in a range of organizations as well.
Above-average profitability and sustainable growth are important goals for the Komax Group. This also includes acting in an environmentally conscious and socially responsible manner towards all stakeholders.
Ambitious targets by 2023
The Komax Group has a robust capital base, and has set itself ambitious targets for both growth and profitability by 2023. It is seeking to increase the value of the company on an ongoing basis through profitable growth. Based on IHS Markit’s analyses of developments in the automotive market, the Board of Directors set revenue and EBIT targets for 2023 and confirmed the company’s attractive distribution policy at the beginning of March 2020 – i.e., before the extent and the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic had become apparent.
These targets do not include the additional revenue and EBIT contributions entailed by the merger with Schleuniger, which was completed at the end of August 2022. Due to developments in the global markets of the Komax Group and the great commitment of the employees, the company was able to achieve these three goals in the year under review.