125 years of innovation
Kässbohrer was founded in 1893 by Karl Kässbohrer in Ulm, Germany. Since then the company has supplied trailers throughout the world. In time for its 125th birthday the company went full circle, launched a new plant in Ulm, Germany, the place where Karl Kässbohrer originally founded his business.
The facility has been set up specifically to increase Kässbohrer’s reach. The company already has a production plant and logistic centre in Goch Germany, to cover the needs of customers in Northern Europe, while the Ulm facility has been brought in to provide access to markets in Southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Southern Europe. As Head of Key Accounts Europe Mehmet Onen notes there is also a sense of pride that the company can return to its historical roots: “For us it felt like returning home after 125 years. It was also the 70th anniversary of foundation of VSL Association for Forwarding and Logistics Baden-Württermberg E.V. Hence we had a celebration with our local business partners as well as from all around the world and we were proud to join in with this special occasion!” he beams.
The motto of Kässbohrer is ‘Enginuity’. As Mehmet explains this one word summarises the history, the heart and the drive of the company: “It is our motto, a word that combines engineering and ingenuity. The engineering side concerns how we design, test and manufacture our vehicles, while the ingenuity side refers to our commitment to our customers and how we innovate our products and services based on the feedback they give us,” he explains.
Kässbohrer adapts to the needs of the market, using lean manufacturing techniques and a clear infrastructure in place. Mehmet is also passionate about its history and how it played a crucial role in the development of the haulage industry as a whole: “In 1907 the first vehicle was produced in Ulm and in 1930 we applied for the patent for the first trailer and coupling system, changing the future of trailer business itself,” he recounts. The company would create other influential developments, including the first tipper with a compressor in 1948 and the first hydraulic tipping silo in 1948.
The company continues to work on this creative principle through its research and development team. As Mehmet further notes: “Our engineers are driven to transcend the extraordinary”. However, this is not purely about being creative for the sake of it, and the approach Kässbohrer takes is very much customer driven: “We have the widest range in Europe, with nine different categories and 44 different groups within that. We make sure we comply with all standards, with a dedicated customer satisfaction and aftersales department,” he outlines.
A great example of Kässbohrer’s approach to design is its work with Hoyer. Hoyer specialises in working with bitumen, a chemical commonly used in the production of asphalt. One of the problems with working with bitumen is that it needs to be kept at 200 degrees centigrade, a massive potential safety risk for anyone handling the stainless steel tankers that house the chemicals. Kässbohrer found a way to address this issue, allowing the bitumen to be transported safely: “In order to counter problems unloading the chemicals we developed a system with a remote control so that the driver does not risk any splashes or falling in,” Mehmet details.
This design proved so effective that Kässbohrer received the Trailer Innovation 2017 award for its efforts with Hoyer, something that Mehmet is keen for the company to build on: “We will be looking to be solving more problems like this for our customers in future!” he vows, a simple way of describing its approach.
At the time of writing Kässbohrer is preparing to launch a new range of intermodal solutions, known as theKässbohrer 13.6 meter Swap Body Line, at the Intermodal 2017 event in Amsterdam on 28-30 November. Mehmet is keen to point out the flexibility of the system: “It is appropriate to your magazine as we have a very wide range of products that can be adjusted for land, sea and air. For example, our new swap body line is for train and road. Our Ferry Huckepack Curtainsider Semi-Trailers are suitable for road transport, unaccompanied ferry transport and also rail. Our Rollerbed curtainsiders are to transport the air cargo pallets on road, also our wide range of container chassis are used to transport sea containers on road,” he explains.
While Kässbohrer remains a business that is proud of its past, it is also building on the present and looking towards the future: “We want to keep going for another 125 years!” Mehmet proclaims. With the company set to launch a second research and development centre in 2019 in order to hit a 20,000 unit target, the pressure is on to keep building on the legacy of its founder and Mehmet is under no illusions as to how it intends to achieve that: “We are looking to improve our customer service, build on our lean manufacturing principles and how we sel our products,” he envisions. Global Trailer said that “Kässbohrer’s business intelligence has an asset in its own right.” Judging from its influence in the past, recognition in the present and ambitions for the future it is hard to disagree with that!
Winner of the Trailer Innovation Award 2017
One of Europe’s top five trailer haulage manufacturers
Celebrating its 125th anniversary next year