Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, fragile supply chains and supply bottlenecks, the HARTING Technology Group, based in Espelkamp in the Minden-Lübbecke district, continued on its path of growth in the 2020/21 business year (ended on 30 September). The international family owned and managed business generated sales of EUR 869 million, up 14.5% on the previous year (EUR 759 million).
“We’ve successfully overcome the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and have enjoyed strong growth,” explained Philip Harting, Chairman of the Board of the Technology Group, opening the press conference on its annual results. “We’re very happy with the outstanding result and proud of what we’ve achieved over the past few months.”
Sales up across the regions
All global regions in which HARTING operates performed positively in the 2020/21 business year, with many even enjoying marked growth. Sales in Europe (excluding Germany) were up by 15% to EUR 40 million, while the Americas region posted gains by 14% or EUR 12 million, followed by Asia with sales growth of 6% or EUR 13 million. Leading the field was Germany, where sales were up by 23% or EUR 40 million.
A total of 713 new jobs created around the world
Also experiencing an upward trend, our headcount (excluding trainees) rose to 6,190 (previous year: 5,477) over the 2020/21 business year, an increase of 13%. Forty new posts were created in Germany, with no fewer than 673 staff (+23.4%) taken on at the company’s foreign production sites and subsidiaries. This meant that a total of 3,546 staff were employed abroad and 2,644 in Germany as of 30 September 2021.
Harting put these positive business developments down to a broad-based positioning in various sectors, markets and regions. The company also intends to keep on mastering the challenges of the future with powerful connectivity solutions for the transformation of industry. For HARTING, these obstacles include a high rate of inflation in line with expectations plus, in particular, factors such as supply bottlenecks caused by a shortage of materials, fragile supply chains, rising energy prices and the significant commitment and work involved in bringing about the energy transition. The coronavirus pandemic will also continue to impact on market trends and company performance.
Managing the pandemic
Over the past business year too, speed and flexibility in communications and handling the coronavirus situation – to protect customers and staff alike – were the watchwords for the in-house pandemic team that was assembled. As well as providing testing facilities for staff based at all plants, the Technology Group was also able at an early stage to deliver vaccinations in the HARTING vaccination centre, which was set up specifically for the purpose. These will be continued in 2022, with the centre to begin offering staff booster vaccinations in early January. The company is keeping other measures such as separating shifts and working from home in place.
The ongoing pandemic led the HARTING Technology Group to instigate a systematic global expansion of digitalisation in its communications and marketing measures, which enabled it to stay right up close to its customers. The HARTING Forum, an events space equipped with camera and stage equipment that forms the beating heart of this communications operation, saw intensive use for filming, live online seminars, online press conferences and direct digital one-to-one communication with customers.
Divisions focus on megatrends, IIoT, the energy transition and collaborative engineering
The HARTING Technology Group’s various divisions have been focusing on a range of key trends in recent months. Under the tagline “All for Energy”, the company is tackling the energy transition by making energy storage systems quick and safe to scale up. Meanwhile, “All for Railway” is addressing key trends in the rail sector: transmitting higher currents and voltages and reducing CO2 by making rail vehicles more lightweight.
As one of the founding members of the “SPE Industrial Partner Network”, HARTING is also committed to promoting the new global infrastructure standard for the digitalisation of industry in the form of single-pair Ethernet (SPE). This new form of data transmission for industrial automation, which delivers an improved performance despite weighing less and using only a single pair of wires, is designed for use in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). SPE allows the field level to be connected seamlessly to the cloud.
With the HARTING Customised Solutions Global Business Unit, the Technology Group is bringing together elements from three divisions: Engineering, Connectivity and Cabling. Co-engineering, customer proximity and developing integrated solutions together with partners are all ingredients in the recipe for success that is being driven forward by the Application Engineering Centers in the regions.
As in previous years, HARTING Automotive saw rapid growth in 2020/2021 too. Tracking the megatrends of sustainability and decarbonisation, the division is expanding its portfolio of innovative, rugged and reliable charging solutions and plug-in connectors for electric mobile applications. The HARTING Systems division, which specialises in retail checkout systems, increased unit sales by 91% thanks to its successful HA-Checkout ProLine model, a cash desk relaunched in a new Edge design.
Some EUR 40 million in new investment
“We’ve optimised our sites, which means we’ve invested in new technologies and automation measures,” says Philip Harting, commenting on the EUR 40 million or so invested over the past business year. While the future of the Espelkamp site has been secured by continuously expanding digitalisation and automation there, the national subsidiaries around the world have been following the motto “In the region, for the region” for their own spending plans. Notable highlights include expansions to sites (Automotive division and Switzerland) and increases in capacity (Romania and Mexico).
All the company’s investments are focused on sustainability and mitigating climate change. “We’re green in what we do, not just in how we think,” says Philip Harting. “For over 30 years now, we’ve been a green company out of a sense of conviction and base everything we do on this green guiding principle.” For instance, he says, the company has saved around 175,000 tonnes of CO2 since 2011 by using “green” energy – including some it generated itself – as well as by investing in photovoltaic technology and energy-efficient production processes. However, sustainable, resource-efficient thinking does not just shape internal processes – combined with the social trends of demographic change and deglobalisation, it forms a triad of technological trends that are driving the transformation of industry. “We want to create demonstrable added value for our customers with new, innovative connectivity solutions and make a major contribution to electrification and digitalisation,” Philip Harting explains.
To this end, he adds, the company is undertaking considerable efforts and is making record investments of 90 million EUR in the coming year in its own production facilities, in developing new technologies and in making all its global sites climate-neutral.
“We feel we’re in a good position.” Despite persistent risks such as a shortage of materials, rising energy and transport costs and the coronavirus pandemic, the CEO believes that the company is on course for strong growth: “Assuming everything continues as positively as it has up to now, we see no reason why we can’t achieve double-digit growth again in the 2021/2022 business year.”