Waldkirch – Despite a challenging business year in 2022, the sensor solution provider SICK, based in Waldkirch, Germany, reported positive results. With EUR 2,511 million in orders received and EUR 2,190 million in sales, the company set new records and demonstrated the high demand for intelligent sensor solutions for industrial digitalization. The EBIT was EUR 165 million and the overall financial situation and earnings were solid. Sales experienced balanced growth in all regions and the global workforce grew by 8 percent to 11,909. The company continued to invest in innovation, once again submitting more than 100 patents in 2022, over half of which concerned software- and AI-assisted sensor solutions.
An unsteady global economy due to the war in Ukraine, disrupted supply chains, inflation and climbing prices for energy and raw materials, not to mention COVID-related restrictions, esp. in China, characterized the challenging business year in 2022. By making reliable delivery performance its top priority, SICK AG positively shaped its business development. Sales rose by 11.5 percent to EUR 2,190 million (2021: EUR 1,964 million), not only breaking the 2-billion-euro mark for the first time, but also surpassing the company’s own projections. Orders received grew by 8.2 percent to EUR 2,511 million (2021: 2,321 million). After a strong 2021 business year, which was chiefly shaped by catch-up effects following the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2022 the EBIT margin stabilized at a solid 7.5 percent of sales (2021: 10.3 percent). As such, the EBIT was EUR 165 million, dropping 18.6 percent year-on-year, while the net income was EUR 120 million (2021: EUR 148 million). The substantial increase in cost of materials (+17.3 percent) and other operating expenses (+32.2 percent), due e.g. to spot-market purchases, increased transport costs and additional development expenditures, negatively impacted the EBIT.
“The 2022 business year and its strained procurement markets posed a number of challenges for the economy, and for our company; in particular, the high costs limited profitability. On behalf of the entire Executive Board, I would like to thank all SICK employees, who, through their impressive personal dedication, cleared new hurdles day after day, and found flexible and creative solutions that best reflected our clients’ needs and interests. Our focus was on ensuring delivery performance and maintaining customer relations while also keeping an eye on costs. We will continue to pursue this approach in 2023 and address the welcome demand for sensors and digital solutions with undiminished innovativeness,” says Dr. Mats Gökstorp, Chairman of the Executive Board at SICK AG.
Framework conditions in the sensor industry
According to information from Germany’s Association for Sensors & Measurement (AMA), the development of the sensor industry in the 2022 business year was positive. Although the sensor industry, too, was affected by economic and political uncertainties, sales increased by 10 percent from Q2 to Q3 2022. The high demand for sensor solutions for industrial applications is also reflected in SICK’s annual report: sales growth in all three business fields – factory automation (+12 percent), logistics automation (+12 percent) and process automation (+10 percent) – was balanced. Global efforts to more efficiently use finite resources were reflected in the increasing automation of industry, which SICK has developed technological solutions for since being founded in 1946.
Balanced growth on all global markets
In Germany, its home market, SICK’s sales rose by 12 percent to EUR 365 million (2021: EUR 326 million), setting a new record, although – due to disrupted supply chains – the company did not manage to convert its entire order backlog into sales by the end of the business year. At its German sites, the number of employees grew to 6,750 (+ 7 percent). New employees were particularly hired in production areas, research and development, sales, and service.
In the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, sales rose by 8 percent to EUR 734 million, surpassing the company’s expectations. This positive trend was reflected in various countries – in this regard, major European markets like Italy and the Netherlands particularly stood out. The number of employees increased by 6 percent to 2,260 in EMEA. Sales growth in North, Central and South America (the Americas) – of 13 percent, to EUR 509 million – was especially due to the business fields factory and process automation, while also benefitting from currency effects. The number of employees rose by 10 percent to 1,171. The Asia-Pacific region once again reported dynamic growth: 13.9 percent in the 2022 business year to EUR 583 million in sales. Particularly on the Chinese market, sales were enhanced by favorable exchange rates. Asia-Pacific was home to 1,728 SICK employees, 13 percent more than in the previous year. In the 2022 business year, exchange-rate effects had a slightly positive effect on the development of Group sales.
SICK solutions for industrial digitalization
SICK continued to pursue its innovation strategy, investing EUR 241 million (11 percent of sales) in research and development in the 2022 business year. The company focused on the possibilities offered by Sensor Intelligence, providing a basis for controlling digital and automated industrial processes, and for protecting human beings and the environment with the aid of sensor technologies. As such, in 2022, SICK continued its evolution into a provider of comprehensive solutions combining sensor products, systems, software, artificial intelligence and services. SICK registered 122 patents (+35 percent compared to the previous year), more than half of which concerned software and artificial intelligence. With a steady eye on the networkability of sensors, and on data sovereignty, SICK is a technology partner for the digitalization of industry.
One outstanding product innovation in 2022 was the camera-based code reader Lector85x with integrated software and AI support. Thanks to its 12.4-megapixel imaging chip and impressive computational power, it can reliably read codes at speeds of up to 3.5 m/s. The code reader is used e.g. at logistics centers and to sort luggage for air travel.
In 2022, SICK tapped the potential of augmented reality in its SARA app, released the same year: the SICK Augmented Reality Assistant – one of the first solutions of its kind in the industrial field – combines sensor data and real-world environments, allowing it to visualize process-related and diagnostic information directly on the shopfloor. The AR app helps staff working onsite with sensor parametrization and diagnostics. In terms of the energy transformation, SICK also brought a variety of products to market in 2022, including the FLOWSIC500: the ultrasonic gas meter can now also reliably and accurately measure hydrogen compounds. Accordingly, existing systems can be updated to accommodate the important energy source hydrogen, making them futureproof.
A central aspect of SICK’s innovation strategy involves its in-house start-ups, which, following a “Business Idea Pitch” and competition, were supplemented with six new additions. Start-ups make it possible to explore new market opportunities in a focused manner and quickly receive customer feedback. As such, topics like hyperspectral image processing and neuromorphing are hardly a pipe dream; thanks to the SICK start-ups, they are already shaping the development of new products.
Comprehensive approach to sustainability
In the 2022 business year, SICK consistently pursued its comprehensive sustainability strategy in the areas “Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG)” and achieved its targets. SICK’s approach to sustainability encompasses corporate responsibility for staff, the environment, business success, and society. With regard to climate and the environment, SICK’s goals include reducing total energy consumption by 0.5 percent every year – a goal that it reached in 2022, thanks to a range of efficiency-boosting measures. The company has exclusively used green electricity at all German sites for the past ten years and will expand this policy to all sites worldwide by 2025. In addition, as a digital sensor solutions provider, SICK constantly analyzes its IT infrastructure for energy-saving potential and prepared an overall concept for this purpose in 2022.
Its employees are the key to the company’s success, and SICK’s goal is to offer them an attractive workplace for today and tomorrow. In 2022, SICK signed the “Diversity Charter,” sending a clear message regarding its focus on promoting diversity and respect in all areas of its operations. In addition, the “MentalHealth@SICK” project was rolled out to lastingly establish mental health as part of day-to-day business and to destigmatize the topic. In addition to employee health, continuing training and lifelong learning have been priorities for the company from the outset. The in-house SICK Sensor Intelligence Academy (SIA) hosted more than 82,000 trainings last year, while 373 trainees were provided with necessary skills for industrial digitalization at SICK.
In 2022, SICK was recognized as a “Great Place to Work” ® in Germany for the 20th time. “This is generally a great place to work” – 91 percent of surveyed SICK employees supported this statement. SICK companies in the USA, Sweden and India were also dubbed a “Great Place to Work” ® for their workplace culture.
In terms of corporate governance, in 2022 SICK implemented certain measures to meet its obligations under the German Supply Chain Act. This particularly included establishing a risk management system to ensure compliance with human rights-related and environmental requirements, both with regard to its own operations and SICK’s direct and indirect suppliers. This followed on the heels of the 2021 installation of an “Integrity Line” hotline, which allows compliance violations to be reported anonymously, so as to protect the company from harm and to preserve employees’ and business partners’ trust in SICK’s corporate values.
Detailed balance-sheet information, and information on SICK AG’s sustainability targets, can be found in our 2022 Annual Report and Sustainability Report: www.sick.com/momentum
|SICK Group (IFRS)||2021||2022||Change in %|
|Orders received (in € million)||2,320.9||2,511.4||+ 8.2|
|Sales (in € million)||1,963.7||2,189.8||+ 11.5|
|EBIT (in € million)||202.3||164.6||- 18.6|
|Net income (in € million)||147.8||119.5||- 19.1|
|R&D expenditure (in € million)||210.3||240.8||+ 14.5|
|Net financial position (in € million)||60.2||-83.5||- 238.9|
|Total staff as at Dec. 31||11,022||11,909||+ 8.0|
Please note: All figures mentioned in the main text are rounded. For the precise figures, please consult our Annual Report.
SICK is one of the world’s leading solutions providers for sensor-based applications in the industrial sector. Founded in 1946 by Dr.-Ing. e. h. Erwin Sick, the company with headquarters in Waldkirch im Breisgau near Freiburg ranks among the technological market leaders. With more than 50 subsidiaries and equity investments as well as numerous agencies, SICK maintains a presence around the globe. SICK has almost 12,000 employees worldwide and generated a group revenue of around EUR 2.2 billion in the 2022 fiscal year. Additional information about SICK is available at www.sick.com