Rethinking Energy

Interview with Thomas Sickau, CEO of SBS BatterySystem GmbH

Thomas Sickau, CEO of SBS BatterySystem GmbH
Thomas Sickau, CEO of SBS BatterySystem GmbH

Using energy efficiently – a challenge that is more relevant than ever. SBS BatterySystem GmbH from Soest is a professional in the field of energy management, facing this challenge with competence and commitment. And delivers holistic solutions.

Economic Forum: Mr. Sickau, SBS is known for offering customized solutions for various battery systems. What does that mean?

Thomas Sickau: With our extensive performance portfolio around battery and charging technology for the industrial environment, we set standards in the market. Our products are mainly used in intralogistics, for example in forklifts. The offer includes lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion solutions, block batteries, charging technology, and accessories. We closely align with our customers' needs. For example, with lead-acid batteries, we differentiate between those with maintenance-free periods of up to 13 weeks, those with longer lifespans, or maintenance-free and low-gassing products. However, services surrounding the product are also very important to us. This includes consulting on individual products or, very importantly, comprehensive energy management topics, as well as assembly and installation, and regular service. Our team strength, our flexibility, and proximity to the customer allow us to quickly and reliably implement individual customer requests.

Economic Forum: How has SBS become a reference point for energy management?

Thomas Sickau: SBS was founded in 2001 by a private individual in Soest and is today part of the Triathlon Group, which specializes in battery and energy solutions. Being part of an international corporate group, we can provide competent service on-site beyond the region. Triathlon focuses on industrial traction applications and stationary plants. Together, we are one of the fastest-growing companies in the market. In 2019, Triathlon's revenue was 192 million EUR, targeting over 600 million EUR in 2023.

SBS Battery System Charging System
Full charge guaranteed - thanks to powerful charging systems from SBS
SBS Battery System Charger
Chargers, stations, places - SBS ensures optimal charging strategies

Economic Forum: What is behind this above-average growth?

Thomas Sickau: Part of our DNA is that customer satisfaction always has the highest priority. We are in close contact with our customers, collectively identify their needs, and implement these in a targeted manner. The growth of the group, but also that of SBS, is also related to targeted acquisitions that stand for innovative technologies others are hesitant about. Just the topic of lithium-ion solutions has been keeping us busy since 2014 and continues to offer great potential; in 2022, we built the fiftieth thousandth (50,000) battery.

Economic Forum: How is SBS positioned itself?

Thomas Sickau: We are a dynamic medium-sized company focusing on service, technical consulting, local production, and quick availability of our products. Our more than 40 employees cover an area beyond the Ruhr region and support various other major customers in Germany. Triathlon has a unique network of regional sales and service companies. Thanks to our strong, established structure, we are a spearhead in the market for the group.

Economic Forum: How would you define the company's market position?

Thomas Sickau: Our strengths lie in the breadth of our offering and the consistent focus on the customer. We work solution-oriented, listen to our customers, understand them, and can offer all the batteries that are on the market. This has made SBS a leading provider.

SBS BatterySystem Lithium Battery Systems
Lithium Battery Systems - flagship products of SBS
SBS BatterySystem Lead-Acid Batteries
Still a proven technology today - lead-acid batteries

Economic Forum: Has the coronavirus pandemic affected development?

Thomas Sickau: During the pandemic, we quickly shifted to digital communication and worked from home. Ultimately, COVID-19 led to a change in thinking; daily contacts often remain digital, and working from home has become partially established. This period was a driver of digitalization at various levels; for example, we managed to make our sales area paperless.

Economic Forum: What is SBS currently focused on?

Thomas Sickau: We are focusing on the contribution energy storage can make in the future. Yesterday was about batteries for electric material handling vehicles. Today it's about keywords like peak shaving, optimizing self-consumption, and avoiding network expansion costs; tomorrow's about systems for a photovoltaic system with simultaneous use and storage. This includes intelligent software solutions. There are different energy consumers; it's about wall boxes, but also about large storage units for emergency power supply. Associated with this is the theme of sustainability. For our lithium products, there is a second-life forecast. We refurbish used batteries, store energy in large storages to help balance network fluctuations or ensure the supply security of our customers. Additionally, we work with RF charging technology (Resonance Frequency) to keep power losses from primary and secondary charging as low as possible.

Economic Forum: SBS is thinking energy forward. Is there a vision for the future?

Thomas Sickau: We need to rethink energy. Our main focus is on a holistic approach. We want to reduce costs for our customers. To do this, we will further strengthen our team, optimize products, continue to develop, grow, and become even more visible as a partner around the topic of battery solutions.