Dear clients, partners and colleagues,
For all of us at TÜV NORD, 2019 was a very particular year, full of encounters, experiences and emotion. The celebrations marking our 150th anniversary brought home very clearly to us the ongoing viability and systemic relevance of the task with which society has entrusted us: to use technology to protect people from harm. Furthermore, we have spent these 150 years instilling confidence and trust in new technologies: in 1869, it was the steam engine; in the modern age – as it will be in the world of tomorrow – the focus is on the digital networking of our world. We took the opportunity offered by the many anniversary events to talk to our customers, staff and partners about the expectations that stakeholders will have of our Group in the future. These conversations have inspired us and motivated us, in accordance with our mission statement, to leave no stone unturned and waste no time in our quest for the best solutions for our customers and to implement those solutions based on our sustainability goals.
Our core business is becoming increasingly digital. This includes the testing of digitally networked systems just as much as it does the methodology employed in those tests. For instance, smart algorithms are now having an impact on many areas of life: self-teaching applications on our smartphones are optimising our daily routines and the way we get around, what we eat and how we communicate. The transmission of millions of datasets is making it possible to draw conclusions about how we behave in traffic situations. Insurance companies are offering reduced premiums for defensive drivers. Data updates which can affect the way we drive are finding their way virtually unnoticed through the ether into vehicle control software. For us at TÜV NORD, the implication is that static tests which take place at rigidly defined intervals are no longer enough in this digital world to guarantee functional safety and data protection. What we need instead are regulations to cover dynamic testing procedures which constantly provide information about the functionality, safety and integrity of vehicles, industrial robots and medical equipment.
In the years to come, we aspire to use our breadth of knowledge and many thousands of daily meetings with customers even more effectively to develop new digital services and products. It’s with this in mind that we are using process improvements and new work environments to establish a culture of innovation and change that will offer our staff more time for creativity and invention.
Our decisions as an enterprise particularly take into account our responsibility for society and the environment. We are honouring this commitment especially in our use of market-leading testing technologies and engineering expertise to protect the world’s climate and resources. Digitalisation in the form of real-time supply chains and production processes such as 3D printing is presenting us with a historic opportunity to consign to history surplus industrial production and the wasteful use of resources and to replace them with a demand structure that is tailored to individual customers and their real needs. It’s in this way that the fourth industrial revolution is fast becoming the digital harbinger of the fifth, whose overriding imperatives will be climate protection and sustainability.
It is a self-evident pillar of our corporate culture that the most successful innovations always come about as a result of dialogue, exchanges of experience and technical expertise in teams which bring together a wide range of different players. We aspire to use these innovations to help our customers make even better decisions so that they can be both more successful and more sustainable. You will find examples of these in the magazine that accompanies this annual report under the title “Dialogue enhances knowledge”.
The TÜV NORD GROUP continued to grow in 2019 in terms of both sales and other relevant financial ratios. For the first time, the number of employees topped the 14,000 mark – never before have so many people worked for our Group. All of our staff across the world are motivated every day by a desire to play their part in a shared endeavour to protect people and technology and to contribute to protecting the climate and preserving our planet. At this point we would like once again to warmly welcome on board all those who joined the TÜV NORD family in 2019.
In the name of the Supervisory Board, the Board of Management, the Group Executive Committee and the staff councils, I offer my heartfelt thanks for our successful collaboration and, especially, for the trust you have placed in our company in the past year. My special thanks go out to all those employees and partners worldwide who have been working for our customers with such great dedication. We look forward to continuing our wide-ranging conversations and to working together in a spirit of mutual trust and confidence in 2020.
Dr. Dirk Stenkamp
Chairman of the Board of Management