Knorr-Bremse stays on track with latest industrial megatrends

Published on 05/29 2018  Source: China Daily


German rail and commercial vehicles braking systems manufacturer, Knorr-Bremse AG, has been operating in China since the 1970s, and has contributed a great deal to the nation's thriving railway system.

Headquartered in the city of Munich, the over 110-year-old company generated more than 6 billion euros ($7 billion) in revenue in 2017.

Klaus Deller, chairman of the executive board of Knorr-Bremse, talks about the company's well-positioned China business and how it is responding to the latest megatrends such as urbanization, digitalization and energy efficiency.

What were the strengths that enabled you to establish the company in the Chinese market and win over customers in the rail and truck segments? 

Over the years, Knorr-Bremse has established itself as a leading and committed brand in the Chinese market and we have maintained contacts in China since the late 1970s.

The cornerstones of our success are without doubt our innovative products and services in mobility and transportation technologies. Additionally, we have quality leadership and are certified for all local relevant standards and norms worldwide.

The Chinese market is rapidly growing and transforming in terms of an increasing demand for mobility solutions.

Knorr-Bremse, as a leading supplier for braking and other safety critical rail and commercial vehicle systems, can significantly contribute to those needs with a large number of products and smart systems.

A reliable mass transit system as well as e-mobility plays a major role in Chinese mega cities and connection among each other.

Knorr-Bremse also provides solutions, which help companies to operate in an eco-friendly way with lower energy use.

What makes your operations and company infrastructure in China so efficient? 

The company pursues a proactive localization policy that centers on a complete value creation chain in China. As a result, we are able to act fast and in a targeted manner close to the market.

Do you feel part of the Chinese community? 

At our sites, absolutely - in China we operate as a Chinese company. As well as being part of the Chinese community from a business point of view, we also undertake localized corporate social responsibility.

In 2017, our charity organization Knorr-Bremse Global Care ran 60 aid projects in 28 countries worldwide. Those projects involve community work that was carried out by employees at local Knorr-Bremse sites.

For example, staff from the Knorr-Bremse sites in the Chinese cities of Shiyan and Chongqing, supported by Knorr-Bremse Global Care and two local aid organizations, have equipped schools with educational materials, furniture and new sports equipment.

What would you define as the megatrends in transport? 

The main challenges, although I would rather call them opportunities, facing the industry remain electrification, connectivity, automated driving and emissions reduction.

New competitors are entering this arena and the entire landscape of operators, original equipment manufacturers and suppliers is being reshaped - just think of the electric buses made by Chinese company Yutong, which were ordered for the first time by the largest German bus company Flixbus.

With its outstanding market coverage based on an extensive, future-oriented product portfolio, a high aftermarket exposure and holistic services concept and a dedicated workforce, Knorr-Bremse is well-positioned to capitalize on those megatrends.

Our approach, which combines ongoing strong investment in the development of new systems and state-of-the-art production technologies with over 110 years' experience of road and rail safety, pays off.

Do these trends differ in global markets? 

These are megatrends in all large markets such as Asia, Europe and North America, and there is no doubt that Chinese companies are going to be key players.

The pace of development, the philosophy and also the legal framework vary slightly across the regions.

But one thing is clear, in the future, vehicle and infrastructure operating data will be interconnected to allow optimal control and operation of vehicles on transport networks.

As an industry innovator, we have a strong patent portfolio, which is the basis for our leadership in research and development.

Today, trains using braking systems from Knorr-Bremse safely transport millions of Chinese people every day. What's happening with your current business in the railways division? 

There is huge customer confidence in Knorr-Bremse's Chinese subsidiaries, which are regularly solving customers' product challenges and operational problems - for example, if they ask for assistance with repair of a locomotive.

Our expertise and services make all the difference.

What is the specific benefit of your cooperative ventures with Chinese commercial vehicle companies such as Dongfeng and FAW Jiefang? 

The benefit is customer and market focused development.

For example, within the established joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group, Knorr-Bremse is now optimizing the transmission control system to meet the specific requirements of the Chinese and other Asian markets and to make Chinese commercial vehicles safer, smarter and more eco-friendly.

Our cooperation with FAW Jiefang is a prime example of the future orientation of Knorr-Bremse and Chinese manufacturers.

We expect that our cooperation and competence in the overall control of braking and steering will actively promote the development of a smart driving technology sector and enable Chinese commercial vehicle and related industries to reach the global technological forefront.

What developments in smart driving technology will Knorr-Bremse offer in the truck segment? 

Our long-term goal is the Highway Pilot, which will allow drivers to engage in other activities for long periods during their journeys. That is the future, and Knorr-Bremse has a clear roadmap setting out its path toward automated driving.

As well as the Truck Motion Controller, the group will also soon be offering complete systems such as the Highway Assist system, which eases the load on the driver during normal freeway driving and keeps the vehicle stable even in critical driving situations.

In this instance, the driver must still be ready to intervene in the event of a malfunction.

At the IAA 2018 trade fair, a leading international trade fair for mobility, transportation and logistics to be held in Hannover, Germany, this September, we will present our developments in automated driving technology. We are looking forward to welcoming many guests from China.(Source: China Daily)