The press manufacturer Schuler expects to recoup its pandemic-related losses in new orders and earnings suffered in the corona year 2020 over the coming one to two years. The current influx of orders, for example in the field of electromobility, together with sustained cost reductions from the company’s ongoing transformation process, and the successful launch of attractive digitalized products all give grounds for this forecast, stated CEO Domenico Iacovelli in Göppingen on Tuesday. In terms of sales, however, the weak order backlog level at the end of 2020 will still impact the current year.
Low level of New Orders in 2020
“In 2021, we expect to be able to clearly exceed the low level of new orders received last year and achieve a positive operating EBITA result again,” explained the CEO. “Last year, our order books were well stocked in the first two months, before corona brought our business more or less to a standstill for several months. All in all, new orders were down by more than 20 percent in 2020.” Precautionary measures for capacity adjustments and restructuring in the mid-double-digit million range pushed EBITA into negative figures.
Since Schuler has been wholly owned by the Austrian Andritz Group, it has no longer published its own key financial figures. They are included in the figures for Andritz’s Metals Forming division, which the company published in early March.
Competition Squeezes Margins
Following a complete standstill in the second quarter, Schuler received a growing number of orders in the third and fourth quarters for lines to produce conventional car bodies and panel parts, as well as battery casings and laminations, from both new and established suppliers of e-vehicles. “This positive trend is continuing, but is still being offset by the low capital spending of traditional car manufacturers and, above all, their suppliers. In Europe more so than in the rest of the world,” stated Iacovelli. “Consequently, the price competition in many of our sales markets is extremely fierce – and not just since corona – pushing some manufacturers to their very limits and obviously also squeezing Schuler’s margins.”
Schuler’s Measures Lead to Positive Results
In 2019, Schuler already launched a series of measures to counter this trend. In the past year, these included the closure of its consistently loss-making die construction plant in Weingarten, the pooling of the Hydraulic Presses business unit in Gemmingen, and a further streamlining of management and administrative structures. These measures helped the company to generate positive operating results again as of the second half of 2020.
An important part of the transformation process is also the extensive digitalization of the control and automation technology with which the presses are equipped. Schuler launched the corresponding offerings as part of its new “Digital Suite”. Other products in this range include: “Schuler Connect”, a virtual service system for troubleshooting without the need for on-site technicians; and “Visual Die Protection”, which uses artificial intelligence to detect and remedy the cause of potential damage at an early stage when using dies.
“This represents a measurable added value for our customers in the form of lower unit costs and reduced start-up times and downtime,” states CEO Iacovelli.
For more information visit the Schuler website.
Read about how it is in Schuler’s heaquarter in Ursula Kampmann’s article after her visit in Göppingen.