The sales figures are being driven mainly by the strong growth of the fan business in the ventilation technology sector. The company, based in Southern Germany, has once again succeeded in growing sales organically, without any acquisitions.
The commencement of in-house composite material production in the Hohenlohe Business Park, Germany represents a milestone in the company's history. Highly sophisticated tools enable it to achieve complex geometries in synthetic material fans. “This enables us to improve the way we transfer knowledge from the natural world to our products,” says chief executive Peter Fenkl, explaining the company’s bionic approach. According to Mr Fenkl, “bionics help us to further improve our products’ carbon footprint”.
One of the benefits for customers is that Ziehl-Abegg offers three technologies in-house: steel, aluminum and composite material.
Mr Fenkl adds: “We are seeing two effects. In emerging countries, the impetus is coming from new building construction, whereas in countries like Germany, sales are shifting to the retrofitting and improvement of existing plants in old buildings. This applies to both ventilation and drive technology. In drive technology, the sales driver is the ZAtop elevator drive. Customers appreciate the reliability of the products as well as our quick and straightforward service.”
Independent suspension provides new impetus for the automotive sector
The signs for sales of the electric in-wheel hub drive for city buses, ZAwheel, are positive. However, in the past year, the pace of growth fell short of expectations.
However, Mr Fenkl explains: “The market is responding so well to the new generation, with two power levels and an integrated control module, that we have revised our forecasts for 2019 upwards.”
One prime example is double-decker buses which are used for city tours in Paris, London, Amsterdam and Berlin.
The independent suspension for the gearless ZAwheel electric motor, which was unveiled at the IAA Commercial Vehicles in September 2018, has also made the application very attractive for other commercial vehicles.
Mr Fenkl says: “The timelines in the automotive sector are different from those in conventional mechanical engineering.” While turnover might not therefore increase as fast as in the fan business, there has been considerable interest shown by leading commercial vehicle manufacturers.
The growth in sales has also had an impact on employee numbers, with the workforce in Germany having risen from 2,200 to 2,250. Ziehl-Abegg now employs 4,100 people worldwide.
Ziehl-Abegg has expanded its dual training, which is now being provided in Hungary, Spain, Brazil as well as the USA.
In Germany, Ziehl-Abegg was named best company for training in the electrical industry in a nationwide study conducted last year .