ESS in “Industriemagazin”

Wants to set up the company wider with a software on demand platform for computational fluid dymanics: Martin Schifko, founder of the producer of paintshop-simulations, ESS from Steyr

Engineering Software Steyr CEO Martin Schifko: “We have major orders for electro mobility in the books”

The books of commissions of the vehicle-coating-simulation-producer ESS from Steyr are well-stocked when it comes to electro mobility, says Martin Schifko, founder and CEO in the interview.


Mr. Schifko, the sales-crisis in the automotive industry hits the supplying industry and their partner-networks hard. How does your company get through the crisis?

Our team of 46 people has been working at 100% again since July. From today’s perspective we won’t need short work again. Before July, roughly 80% of our team were in short work. This working-time-model made it possible, that all ESS-employees would continue to have a safe job. And that considering that we already could feel the crisis in January, when Audi sent out a profit warning because of the corona-situation in China.

How dense is the order situation?

Although some orders have practically been dissolved during the crisis, many have simply been postponed and they are now providing a good order situation. Our advantage has doubtlessly been, that we had a good increase in revenue before, thus creating a financial cushion.

Which projects are being prioritized in the automotive industry?

From our special point of view it is electromobility: We have high six-figure orders for the simulation of paint shops for 16 new models in sum. These models should come to the market at the end of 2022, beginning of 2023.

In this case our client is a newcomer in the automotive industry and was not hit by the current crisis, because all the models are still in the development-phase. This enables us to fully take off and to hope for an increase in revenue in comparison to last year.

Does this mean you are estimating a catch-up effect and a strong second half-year?

Despite the insecurity we are still calculating with a considerable increase. Since we cannot know how those budgets that have been arranged in 2019 will be handled in the future, there is no planning reliability at the moment.

You are working on additional pillars besides the automotive industry…

We want to expand our business model and get more independent from the automotive industry, which makes up the better part of our revenue. With a software-on-demand-platform we want to provide our software for computational fluid dynamics to small enterprises and private persons. This way, cyclicsts, for example, could project their vehicle and themselves in 3D and calculate the aerodynamic drag of different components and their positions – all in a few straightforward steps and only for a couple of euros.

The software will have to be downloaded to the computer, the computation is carried out on a cluster, the billing happens over PayPal. We want to start a test-ballon in October and are really excited what resonance this offer will create.

This doesn’t sound like you’ve shut down your R&D-activities noticeably?

Our target is to keep the budget for R&D stable, but at the same time to increase the revenue substantially, so we can reach a low two-digit quote. The R&D quote is at 80%. The crisis has slowed us down of course. But since our innovation-efforts are carried by national and EU-funding programs for the most part, we can continue as before. Historically, most innovations succeed during times of crisis. It will be the same this time, because many bright minds are committing themselves to the most urgent topics.

Are there more fields of use for computational fluid dynamics?

When we look at the floodings at the beginning of August, the dimensions of the possibilities become clear. One can calculate how a private house would withstand large amounts of rain, what flooding-risks could arise in towns and cities, where landslides can be expected. A very precise risk-calculation can be made.

The fields of use in the commercial area are nearly endless. We want to give access without any technical entry barrier to CFD to all companies and public institutions who have not even though about this possibility before. Perhaps because it seemed too complicated for them, or because they found it to be too costly.

Martin Schifko is founder and CEO of ESS – Engineering Software Steyr. He studied mathematics and geometry in Graz and Linz. He led the development of the first steps of paint shop simulation for Magna in St. Valentin, which he took over in 2015 in a management-buyout and thus founded ESS. About 80 percent of ESS‘ revenue is made with the simulation of paint shops for about half of the worlds biggest automobile-producers. In the past business year (July 2019 to June 2020) ESS generated a revenue of about 3 million euros. The company employes 45 employees from 16 nations.

Check out the article in german at Industriemagazin:

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