Secop Group staff with award

Discover how Secop Group’s unique products are innovating the commercial cooling industry 

With more than 65 years of experience in commercial refrigeration, Secop Group GmbH (Secop) is an expert in the development and production of advanced hermetic compressor technologies and commercial cooling solutions. Serving various sectors through its three divisions, Secop is a leader in light commercial cooling solutions and mobile battery driven cooling applications, as well as solutions for the medical cold chain. In the stationary cooling segment, Secop provides compressors for food retail, food service, merchandisers, beverage cooling and special commercial applications. Meanwhile, for the mobile cooling segment Secop offers high-performance hermetic DC (battery driven) compressors for automotive, trucks, portable boxes, recreation vehicles and other mobile applications. The medical segment has been created in the light of more specific demands for medical cold chain storage and transportation: vaccine cooling, ultra-low temperature freezers, solar direct drive and blood plasma among others. 

The group has 1080 employees worldwide with production sites in Slovakia and China as well as research centers in Germany, Austria, Slovakia, China, and the USA. This includes a dedicated motor competence center (MCC) in Germany to support the development of electronics and motor controls. 

Johannes Maerz, Chief Operation Officer, covers some of the milestones Secop has recently achieved to enhance the production of premium cooling solutions. “We have been through significant changes in recent years, particularly between 2020 and 2021,” he begins. “During this period, we stepped out from the household business, redirecting the focus from domestic cabinets towards the light commercial, mobile cooling, and medical sectors. This strategic shift has made us a stronger player, by concentrating on the niches where we can exploit core competences to offer tailored cooling applications with premium performances and reliability to meet specific market needs (like automotive and medical). In addition, we also placed a greater emphasis on delivering outstanding and safe products and services to our customers. In terms of operations, part of our journey has been focused on consolidating our footprint and enhancing our productivity. Currently, we operate two major plants: one in China and the other one in Slovakia. This setup has allowed us to develop a clear strategy regarding the specific products manufactured at each location. Furthermore, we are making great strides to best serve our customers while continuously boosting production efficiency and flexibility. To complement our improved manufacturing processes, we also focus on enhancing our productivity and service level by fostering strong collaboration between our operations and supply chain. This is especially imperative as one of the challenges we face in the light commercial sector is the emergence of new competitors. Hence, we are actively positioning ourselves to compete in a challenging market environment,” Johannes adds.

Focus on innovation 

Johannes discusses how Secop’s innovation process empowers it to keep ahead of the market. “Our thorough understanding of market trends and needs is critical to building up our product roadmaps. As of late, we have introduced three substantial product innovations. The first is the new KL series catering to the light commercial sector, which incorporates distinctive features setting us apart from the competition. For example, in response to the industry’s shift towards more natural refrigerants, the KL models include a patented solution for flammable refrigerant use. This feature addresses specific risks than the use of natural flammable refrigerants could generate. By prioritizing the compliance of our products with specific regulations, we ensure the safety of our customers while still providing them with a high-quality product. We have also launched an innovative product for mobile cooling solutions called BD Nano, which is the smallest compressor in our mobile cooling product line-up. We are focused on redefining our compressors through the addition of unique selling points such as low noise, efficiency optimization, and compact size. The BD Nano is designed to support our customers’ needs, specifically for recreation vehicles, passenger cars, trucks, and electric cars, since it can offer premium features for the new generation of mobility solutions. We strongly believe in the development of products that cater to specific customer needs and can solve problems that our customers face in designing the new generation of efficient and green cabinets. The third innovation we recently launched to market is related to a specific range of ultra-low temperature solutions optimized for the medical cold chain. This new range of electronic controlled compressors can help manufacturers of medical cold chain cabinets design efficient (low energy consumption) and green (low global warming potential refrigerants) storage and transportation solutions down to -80°C. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and as a result, all our products are designed to serve the purpose of specific applications. To that end, we have structured our processes to ensure we can deliver exactly what each customer requires and in 2023 we have been presented the TOP100 innovation award in Germany, as a recognition for our innovation mindset and focus on innovative developments. Underpinning this, we recently were awarded the IAFT 16949 automotive certification for the production site in China. This approach starts from the design and product development phase and extends to our production practices. Indeed, we have already implemented a build-to-order principle, allowing us to be highly flexible in customizing our products and to swiftly respond to our clients’ short-term needs,” he explains. 

Supplier relationships 

As the interview nears its end, Johannes elaborates on Secop’s relationship with its suppliers as well as the challenges encountered. “We value the longstanding relationships we have with most of our supply chain partners, as they benefit both parties in the long run. However, we have observed different situations and experiences within the delivery chain in China and Slovakia. In China, we enjoy enduring and friendly relationships with numerous local partners on a relatively personal level. These well-established partnerships have been particularly advantageous in recent years, as stability is more prevalent in China, with certain costs such as energy and steel. But since 2022, factors such as rising costs, especially energy prices in the light of the Ukraine war, have led to more challenging situations with our European suppliers. Many suppliers raised their prices beyond our usual levels to cover their cost increases – putting more pressure on a competitive cost position for our products. Nonetheless, we have been actively seeking solutions to address these challenges together with our suppliers. This includes adopting multiple sourcing strategies to secure delivery stability, enhance competitiveness and mitigate the impact of price increases,” he ends. 

Through its focus on product leadership, flexible manufacturing and strategic partnerships, Secop is prepared to stay ahead of evolving industry needs.