Edscha Trailer Systems introduced sliding roofs to the market in 1969. Today, it is a technologically leading company and the largest player in sliding roofs for trailers in the world, with a global market share of more than 40 per cent.
Internationally leading forerunner
Edscha Trailer Systems has the market’s broadest product portfolio for the conversion of tarpaulin-covered trailers, with a focus on trailers for road transport. The division also has a product range for railway wagons and tipper vehicles. The Edscha Trailer Systems and Sesam brands are well known and strong, among both customers and end users. The common denominator for all the products is that they offer effective, flexible protection of freighted goods while also increasing the second-hand value of trailers for owners.
Edscha Trailer Systems’ highest sales volume is linked to the production of simple yet functional roof solutions for standard trailers – a segment that is dominated by three German trailer manufacturers: Schmitz, Krone and Kögel. These trailer manufacturers target end customers ordering larger volumes, such as leasing fleets and large forwarding agents.
Tailored customer solutions for trailers represent a fragmented niche with a large number of strong players locally and regionally. Significantly lower volumes of orders are placed with a higher degree of customisation.
Approximately 100,000 tarpaulin-covered trailers are produced worldwide annually, most of which have a sliding-roof system. Demand for trailers with sliding roofs relies on the overall trailer fleet’s size and growth. As with the truck market as a whole, this is in turn controlled by the economic situation and demand for freight. However, the investment cycles for the trailer market are longer than for the rest of the truck market.
Demand for sliding roofs for railway wagons and tipper vehicles normally fluctuates significantly year to year, but also for these products, the underlying driver is the economic situation.
Interview with Volker Biesenbruck
"Being competitive requires more than low prices."
Division Manager at Edscha Trailer Systems
2018 meant improved earnings and better margins for Edscha Trailer Systems. What were the reasons for this?
Several things had a positive impact on earnings in 2018. We had a very stable market and favorable market conditions in general during the year. Moreover, we were not exposed to the type of supplier problems we experienced during the previous year. In recent years, the division has also focused a great deal on optimizing processes and working to achieve a lean organization, which is now beginning to show clear results. The management changes we undertook in 2017 have also produced a strong team with clear and shared strategic objectives. Even our new product lines have contributed to the division’s positive development during the year.
One challenge you mention is strong price pressure, while materials and personnel costs are increasing. How would you to comment on this?
It’s entirely correct that we operate in a price-sensitive industry, but I am convinced that being competitive requires more than low prices. Our way of tackling price competition is to continue to focus on our niche as a supplier of premium products and as a stable, committed partner in the long term to customers, with offers that provide advantages to the customer other than simply a low price. We are also continuously striving to optimize our processes and develop new product versions to meet the requirements of our customers. As part of this work, we are continuing to automate our production processes and regularly review our supply chain, from purchasing to aftermarket, all to ensure we are as efficient as possible in all areas of the business.
2018 was a good year for you. What are your thoughts for 2019 – where will you be focusing?
We will continue with our product development and take the product innovations we presented in 2018 to the next level, for example by implementing E-Drive in all the other products in our portfolio. E-Drive is our new, fully automated system for electrical opening and closing of roofs. E-Drive enhance the efficiency of customer transportation and therefore makes a positive contribution to their business. I am convinced that E-Drive will become an important part of our future offering. I can also see major possibilities for growing our operations with these innovations, not only in Europe but in the rest of the world as well. Last year, we invested in additional resources in Asia and I believe our new OpenBox solution has substantial potential there. In 2019, we will also continue work to optimize our processes and to strive to shorten time-to-market for new products.