KNAPP Celebrates a Year of Technology

Press information: Published on in Technology

For the KNAPP AG, the year has been one of the most eventful, and again, most successful. Despite the challenging times, the company recorded tremendous growth in turnover. The more challenging the times, however, the more important it is to have the right partner by your side. Partnerships with customers, employees and society are therefore an important part of the company strategy. The excellent outcome of the fiscal year 2021/22 allows the company to continue investing in new technologies and to expand its global subsidiary network.

High demand for automation across the globe

Worldwide, automation and the digitalization along the value chain continues to be a huge trend. This is due to highly dynamic supply chains, strong growth in online trade and persistent shortages in the workforce as well as urbanization. This increased demand for automated warehouse solutions and logistics software is reflected in the very successful business year for automation expert KNAPP. As of March 31, the company reported sales of 1.6 billion euros (previous year 1.06 billion euros), a significant increase. Incoming orders developed particularly positively in Europe, for example, in the Netherlands, the UK or Italy, where several large, automated distribution centers were implemented for several well-known online retailers. North America has also become an important pillar in the KNAPP group: The biggest players in trade and food retail rely on KNAPP technologies. Similarly, KNAPP’s US subsidiary near Atlanta was significantly expanded, including a training center for new employees. In other parts of the world, the trend towards automation was also noticeable with an increase in sales in Latin America, Asia, Australia, and South Africa. In total, order intake is 23 percent higher than the previous year, at 2.2 billion euros. The profit or loss on ordinary activities amounted to 167.2 million euros (previous year: 84.5 million euros).

Innovations for every link in the value chain

The trend for automation and digitalization is also reflected in KNAPP’s portfolio of solutions. KNAPP has developed a series of new innovative solutions that helps them respond optimally to the demands of the market and the needs of their customers: “This year is the year of new technologies, of robots, new kinds of sorters and comprehensive software solutions. We enable our customers to understand the complex processes in their supply chains, to control them optimally and to generate a competitive edge,” states KNAPP COO Franz Mathi. KNAPP has a series of important innovations. For the business area industry, a novel automated storage system and autonomous robots for pallet transport have been developed. For online trade and fashion, a pocket sorter system that automatically ejects the goods into a target container is causing a stir and also features rapid delivery. One of the hottest topics is automation in and around urban areas. Here, KNAPP offers small and compact automated warehouses, the so-called micro- and nano-fulfilment centers, where customers can pick up or receive their orders in anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. These systems are especially well established in the food retail sector but are gaining ground in other areas of retail as well. Another innovation for food retail is KNAPP’s fully automatic palletizing system, the Robotic Universal Picker, which takes over the heavy lifting, securing the supply of foods. For the sector pharmaceuticals and healthcare, there are also new innovations on the market: A blister dispenser securely and precisely doses a week’s supply of medicines for patients, so personnel in healthcare are freed for other tasks. In the area of software, KNAPP is also attracting attention and is massively expanding its own software portfolio around the KiSoft brand: “With our software, we link all the steps in the value chain. This provides our customers with the details they need and gives them access to the data they otherwise would not have,” sums up Mathi.

Automation a matter of trust

At KNAPP, partnership is given top priority. As a technology partner, KNAPP brings all their knowledge from the various sectors and value chains to the table and approaches consulting methodically to determine just the right technologies to use, thereby creating the most added value possible for the customer. Finally, automation is truly a matter of trust, as KNAPP CEO Gerald Hofer points out, “Our customers are making substantial investments that must pay off over many years to come. As a strong partner, we work together with our customers over the long term to help them optimize all their processes, whether this involves data or machines.” Optimization for KNAPP also means installations that have been in operation for 15 or 20 years can be made productive for another 15 years thanks to a retrofit program. “It’s very important to us that we prioritize the use of existing systems over building new ones. During a retrofit, we equip systems involved in providing essential services, such as in pharmaceutical wholesaling, with the latest technologies. Moreover, it will enable our customers to maximize the profitability of their businesses and ensure that people can continue to access the food, vital medicine, and other things that our customers supply,” says Hofer.

Outlook: Full order books ensure further growth

As of the end of March 2022, KNAPP employed 6,261 employees worldwide; 3,625 are working in Austria, and the number continues to rise. “Last year, we announced that we were hiring 1,000 new employees worldwide, and we have hired them. But we haven’t completed our search for more employees just yet,” says KNAPP CFO Christian Grabner. “We are still searching for employees with skills in mechatronics, electrics, software, PLC programming, finance and project management as well as for commissioning technicians who are willing to travel to our installations all over the world.” Further investments are being made to expand the company locations in Austria in Hart bei Graz, Leoben, Dobl, Raaba-Grambach, Klagenfurt and Vienna as well as in the network of our 62 international offices. The apprenticeship program at KNAPP, a state-honored training company, has been a tradition for decades and is being expanded: No fewer than 50 new positions for apprentices and a new type of apprenticeship are planned. “As one of Austria’s leading companies, we take our responsibilities seriously and want to offer young people a great professional future in an exciting company,” says Christian Grabner.

KNAPP AG (group) 2021/22* Change 2020/21*
Turnover in TEUR 1,666.14 57.1 % 1,060.61
Order receipt in TEUR 2,220.74 22.7 % 1,809.65
EBITDA in TEUR 212.10 92.6 % 110.12
EBIT in TEUR 177.93 124.8 % 79.15
EBT in TEUR 167.20 97.8 % 84.52
Investments 79 77.0 % 44.63
Equity in TEUR 332.32 39.1 % 238.86
Employees 6,261 18.4 % 5,286

*Business year April 1 to March 31