Revenues in the Concrete Technology division topped out at €184 million for the business year 2017, representing a decline of €22 million or 10.7 %.
The concrete industry saw very mixed performances globally and regionally in 2017. Stronger investments in real estate, particularly in Germany, but also in other Western European countries, greatly increased the demand for concrete. In North America, the sector benefited from very strong business activity.
In the Near and Middle East, the sector continued to suffer, due in particular to the ongoing conflicts in the region. Thanks to large infrastructure projects, the Eastern European EU countries have positive prospects for the future.
Steep competition poses challenges for the division
All of the division’s product areas performed successfully in Western Europe, despite heavy competition in the market. The strongest growth was seen in Germany, Belgium and France. A slow recovery for the division was also seen in Eastern Europe. While the Russian market for truck mixers showed only moderate development, the markets in Poland and Ukraine saw favourable growth.
The poor underlying conditions in the Near and Middle East also left their mark on the division. In the key markets of Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Egypt, demand slowed at times to a complete halt. Drops in sales were also reported in the Far East / Australia and the Americas.
Overall, the division was able to strike a positive balance with the truck mixer product range. Especially in Europe, Liebherr sold significantly more truck mixers than in the previous year. The mixing plants segment, on the other hand, performed slightly below the previous year’s level. The clear growth in revenues in Western Europe, particularly in Germany, was unable to fully compensate for downturns in other markets.
Market launch of the new truck mixer Generation 05
In the truck mixer segment, 2017 was defined by the market launch of Generation 05, which was introduced to the market during the reporting year following its successful unveiling at Bauma 2016. Clients have reacted very favourably, particularly to its innovative platform design, simple cleaning options and reduced weight. Among the horizontal mixing plants, the Compactmix 1.0 and the modular Betomix series are still trendsetters in their segment. In mixing technologies, the ring-pan mixer RIV 2.5-D was developed and launched in response to increasingly complex concrete formulas.
In the truck mixer segment, 2017 was defined by the market launch of Generation 05.
First fully electric truck mixer drive train developed
Another highlight of the past year was the design of a fully electric truck mixer drive train. The battery system is installed on the semitrailer and recharged at each concrete loading cycle. Additionally, the division is working with the Institute for System Dynamics on optimising vibration absorption and boom control in concrete pumps. The division is also taking part in the “Betonfahrbahn 4.0” (Concrete Motorway 4.0) project of the German Federal Highway Research Institute, which focusses on process-based motorway construction. The research institute aims to improve the durability of motorways in order to minimise roadworks. This is expected to contribute to increased traffic safety.
To position itself for the future, the division invested above all in optimising production in 2017. At the Bad Schussenried site (Germany), a new workshop was opened to allow for flow-oriented production and additional production capacities. Furthermore, a new logistics centre is under construction, which will contribute to increased efficiency.
Due to the steady business climate in Europe and expected easing of the Russian and Chinese markets, a growth in sales is expected for 2018. Nonetheless, there are still risks due to the increased competition and the resultant pressure on prices. As such, it should be assumed that 2018 will experience difficult development, similar to the previous financial year.