Investment Remains High at Over EUR 120 million
DEKRA Fully Committed to Digitalization
Positioned in the top league of global testing companies, DEKRA performed exceptionally well in 2020, expanding its status as a recognized partner for the testing, inspection and certification of intelligent and connected products. The impact of the pandemic has shifted focus back to the dynamics of digitalization. By 2025, when DEKRA celebrates its 100th birthday, the company will have digitalized its entire service portfolio. “The entire company will be geared towards the opportunities presented by digitalization, from new ways of working to improved digital interaction and innovation to data-driven services,” said DEKRA CEO Stefan Kölbl. “COVID-19 has accelerated this transformation.” The pandemic interrupted 16 years of sustained growth in fiscal year 2020, with revenues expected to fall by about EUR 200 million to around EUR 3.2 billion. Kölbl: “This means that we performed better than expected given the circumstances.
- Artificial intelligence and cyber security centers established
- E-mobility: pioneer in charging station inspections
- Respiratory masks: expert organization with Europe’s largest test laboratory
- Call for independent trust center for greater safety
- Revenues decline by around 6 % to EUR 3.2 billion
DEKRA is also helping shape future mobility by participating in the “RealLabHH” research project in Hamburg, which aims to identify which mobility solutions work in practice. Experts from the DEKRA Technology Center lend their specific expertise on issues relating to the approval process for autonomous shuttles to be used in public transport. These on-demand shuttles are part of the digital infrastructure that is being tested in real-life situations.
In the periodical testing of motor vehicles (Vehicle Inspection service division), Germany’s no. 1 increased its market share of general inspections slightly to 33.6% in the first half of the year. By contrast, other vehicle-related services were affected by the crisis, with expert appraisals business declining on account of fewer accidents and less weather-related damage. This stands in contrast to the hive of activity seen at the DEKRA Technology Center at the Lausitzring race track following targeted investment in the emissions laboratory. Stefan Kölbl: “There is great professional demand for measurement of the emissions, ranges and energy consumption of vehicles with all kinds of drive systems. Thanks to our service-based accreditation for key global markets, we are optimally positioned in Klettwitz as a partner to the automotive industry.”
The Industrial Inspection service division performed relatively well in the difficult environment of the pandemic. Many customers used the lockdown to inspect and test equipment and materials. At the Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant in Sweden, for example, DEKRA inspected block 4 in record time with a team of over 50 experts. Presence in China was expanded by acquiring a large share of ENERTIC Engineering Technical Co. Ltd., Beijing. ENERTIC has supported multinational and Chinese raw materials and energy companies with material testing for two decades. By cooperating with Nexxis, a high-tech Australian supplier, DEKRA strengthened its expertise in automated and robot-based inspection in difficult and hazardous environments in Oceania.
DEKRA’s Product Testing service division responded to the COVID-19 crisis extremely quickly. “We are by far pioneers in Germany when it came to testing respiratory masks,” said CEO Kölbl, commenting on DEKRA’s special laboratory in Essen. It is recognized as a notified body for filtering respiratory masks and is by far the largest mask testing laboratory in Europe. Masks were already being tested there using a recognized rapid test procedure in mid-March 2020. There is now massive demand for the testing of FFP2 masks in line with strict PPE Ordinance criteria.
The expert organization improved its access to growth markets by obtaining further approvals. The Open Charge Alliance designated DEKRA laboratories in Arnhem and Sterling, USA, official testing laboratories for measuring and billing between charging station operators. In the USA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) granted DEKRA the status of Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). China’s National Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) recognized DEKRA laboratories in Shanghai and Guangzhou under the China Compulsory Certification (CCC) standards. This allows DEKRA to offer inspection, testing and certification services to international manufacturers in China from a single source. In addition, the DEKRA laboratory in Málaga (Spain) was one of the first ever laboratories to be certified under the ioXt standard developed by an alliance of manufacturers, industry associations and public institutions. This standard is used to test the cyber security of devices for the Internet of Things (IoT).
In the Training service division, DEKRA utilized the COVID-19 pandemic to step up digital learning scenarios. Microlearning plays a major role here, using smartphones and elements of virtual and augmented reality. The DEKRA Tag.it beacon content management system promises to bring growth in the future. One function of the system is to allow safety information in production halls or maintenance instructions for machinery to be accessed directly via a smartphone. DEKRA expanded its customer-focused expert migration program in Brazil to several regions from the start of 2019, tripling the number of participants to around 450. In the program, DEKRA qualifies carers to work in Germany in the future.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, DEKRA expanded its online safety portal DEKRA Safety Web to include information on hygiene policies and the transport of COVID-19 samples, resulting in a 60% increase in use of the portal. It is now used by around 120,000 employees at more than 500 companies. DEKRA (Consulting service division) developed a safety and health concept for work processes on-site and at home for a renowned pharmaceutical manufacturer. This will come into effect initially for locations in the Netherlands and Ireland, before being adopted for the Group as a whole over the course of the year. With accelerated test methods for medical equipment such as ventilators, DEKRA laboratories in Arnhem and Málaga are helping health authorities and clinics tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fiscal year 2020 was shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. But DEKRA has used this time to emerge from the crisis stronger than it was before,” said Stefan Kölbl. “We stepped up our digitalization and innovation work and developed new digital skills.” Although it is currently impossible to foresee the duration and impact of the crisis, Kölbl believes there are many reasons to suggest that DEKRA will be able to return to its growth trajectory as soon as the situation normalizes. These include its global presence, the new organizational structure and good position in growth markets such as connected mobility, cyber security and sustainability.