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Kalmar in 2021 - excellent demand, component shortages limited deliveries

In 2021, market demand drove Kalmar’s orders to a high level but component availability and longer lead times created challenges.

Market demand drove Kalmar’s orders to a high level in 2021, and its orders received increased by 47 percent from the previous year. However, challenges with component availability and longer lead times left Kalmar’s sales to 2020 level of 1.5 billion euros, and its comparable operating profit decreased by 5 percent to 120 million euros. Kalmar heads towards 2022 with a strong order book, with a 55 percent improvement from the end of 2020.

“2021 was a mixed bag. We were, first and foremost extremely happy with the high orders we received from many of our customers globally. Our ability to deliver the units and also the cost inflation had an impact on the cost side of our units and a negative effect on our delivered margins,” says Michel van Roozendaal, President, Kalmar Mobile Solutions..

“The replacement market started and we were able to get quite many orders that we were also able to deliver in 2021. It really helped us to be able to improve our profitability and our retail targets. Who could have guessed that there would be so many issues and lack of components, even in the special cargo ships,” states Antti Kaunonen, President, Kalmar Automation Solutions.

“There was still a lack of capital projects as customers were busy delivering containers with the existing equipment. As the traffic levels went up, suddenly congestion became an issue in ports,” continues Kaunonen.

Looking forward, Kalmar is positioned well in an excellent market environment. Kalmar’s key demand driver, the number of containers handled at ports globally, is estimated to have increased by about 7 percent in 2021.

“The market environment for Kalmar Mobile Solutions in 2021 was actually very positive. It proves that Kalmar’s mobile business is well positioned into core megatrends in our global economy. The fact that we are very connected, but also trends like e-commerce, where our goods are ordered online and need to be delivered from many different places, proves this. Mobile equipment units, our terminal tractors, our forklifts and container handlers are playing a key role there,” says van Roozendaal.

On Kalmar's automation and project side, Kaunonen says:“The customers are still very hesitant to make decisions about the big megaprojects, as they are busy delivering the containers and focusing on keeping the operations running.”

R&D creates a competitive advantage
During 2021, Kalmar also strengthened its position in the market with cutting-edge R&D. For example, in December, Kalmar introduced the New Era of Logistics, by bringing the whole portfolio available as battery-electric vehicles and by introducing a future range of intelligent, flexible and autonomous mobile equipment solutions, the Kalmar Robotic Portfolio. Furthermore, by extending the services offering, Kalmar aims to maximise the performance, safety and effectiveness of the fleets of its customers.

“There's a big change in the customers' way of thinking as they want to push the fully electric solutions and CO2 reductions. From that point of view we are going in the right direction. We are shaping the industry through automation and through fully electric solutions,” says Kaunonen.

“We are very much aware that we need to ensure that supply chains are sustainable. Electrification is one element, but also robotisation and automation. We think that those are the key drivers for our industry to become, not just sustainable but also more efficient, more reliable and - also crucially important - safer for people who work in this fairly dangerous industrial environment,” says van Roozendaal.

Numerous highlights were making the year unforgettable in Kalmar
Looking beyond the successes in R&D, the year was quite diverse when it comes to highlights. In Kalmar Mobile Solutions, the highlight was the atmosphere and excitement of all stakeholders as the new electric and robotic solutions were presented in December.

“People from all over the world were impressed by the wide range of our electrical solutions. That is testimony of our commitment to sustainability,” says van Roozendaal..

In Kalmar Automation Solutions, focus was set on delivering results after a year of uncertainty. Replacement market bounced back but, as customers were tied with congestion all over the world, larger capital investments were still on hold..

“We were hit very hard by the Covid-19 because we centralised our project organisation. Thinking of some of the deliveries and all the Covid-19 issues that we had, we were still able to deliver,” says Kaunonen.

Focus on customer-centricity

Kalmar focuses on delivering the absolute best products to support customer needs all over the world. To gain an understanding of customer needs and wishes, it is important to collaborate with the customers throughout the journey. This is a cross-cutting culture within the organisation, as the discussion with the customers is continuous. As online meetings have become more regular, so have contacts with customers.

“Never in my life have I had as many customer contacts as I had in 2021. It is now much easier to convene a meeting with our customers in Australia, for example,“ says Kaunonen.

“But face-to-face meetings are still needed to establish a deeper connection with the customers.”

Michel van Roozendaal concurs:

“Cooperation with our customers is first and foremost part of our culture. We don't want to develop everything in isolation. We can only exist as a valuable partner for our customers when we intimately cooperate and work with our customers, and listen to their needs.”

Customer centricity is also present in Kalmar’s role in enabling possibilities to the customer.

“We really push the boundaries of automation. It provides much better operational safety , which is extremely important to our customers. On the other side we have the CO2 reductions: all our solutions are fully electric and we are able to show and present the CO2 reductions to our customers. With these solutions we are really shaping the industry,” concludes Kaunonen.

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