One of our final company visits of the study tour was of Knorr Bremse (KB). Although not a household name, KB has made its mark upon the world. For over a century, Knorr Bremse has been a major supplier of brake systems to trains worldwide. Since its’ founding in 1905, KB has further expanded its product line into large commercial vehicle brakes (trucks, buses, etc.), and more recently, on-board systems and consulting services.
From the hotel, the ride to Knorr Bremse was a short one, and we passed by a few notable sites: Olympiapark (Olympic Park) and BMW World, which we would later visit. Upon arrival at KB, the company was kind enough to provide us with lunch before presenting to us.
We received a total of three (!) separate presentations from KB. The first one focused on giving us a general overview of Knorr Bremse’s extensive history and the business environments that the company operates in. The second presentation was more forward looking, giving us some insight of how recent global events are shaping their company. A couple of interesting insights that they shared include the following:
- Greater Urbanization: In human history, the majority of people lived in rural areas while the minority lived in cities. However, recent trends show that more people are moving into condensed urban areas. As people are consolidated, there will be a larger need for efficient mass transportation systems – clearly, a big opportunity for KB.
- Challenge of Localizing in a Global Market: Knorr Bremse has found itself looking to do business in developing nations such as China, India, and Russia. In the process of doing so, KB has discovered many challenges in doing business in these areas, especially in regards to local cultures and regulatory requirements.
The final presentation was actually a short tour of Knorr Bremse’s final assembly plant. Our tour guide was a very enthusiastic engineer, who showed us some of the company’s brake systems and gave us a general overview of the plant’s structure.
Given the amount of information they shared, Knorr Bremse was certainly one of the more thorough visits of the entire trip. As one of the last companies we visited, KB seemed to reinforce the points that the other companies had conveyed – mainly, the many opportunities and challenges of a rapidly globalizing world.