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Düsseldorf, 08. November 2019

"The non-ferrous market is moving very fast"

Interview with the management of the non-ferrous metals department

2019 was a remarkable year for the management of the non-ferrous department. Rolf Degel, Timm Lux, Hannes Joubert and Andreas Liedtke look back on this year and give an outlook to 2020.

How is the current situation in the Düsseldorf office?

Rolf Degel (Vice President): We are very happy that we are all together in one office complex. This creates an ideal working atmosphere with fast communication within our team and additional competence centers within SMS group and our partners in Leoben. What’s key here is that we can react in a fast, flexible, and professional manner with a highly motivated team.

Was it a big challenge for the staff?

Timm Lux (General Manager): The NF market is moving very fast with “new” topics such as battery and electronic scrap recycling, environmental protection, and the upgrading/improvement of existing processes. The market demand is there, now it is up to us to develop tailor-made solutions.

How do you ensure that these solutions will work on an industrial scale?

Andreas Liedtke (Head of design): First of all, we intend not to reinvent the wheel. The product portfolio and references of SMS are widely spread and diversified. We take existing technologies as a basis and implement specific modifications. The key is more evolution than revolution in the individual units. The new combination process alone can be revolutionary.

Hannes Joubert (Senior Expert - Sales & Order Handling): This is also supported by our in-house R+D division. Additionally, our JV partner PolyMet and the collaborative partnership with Mettop and UrbanGold help us a lot. These companies are located in Leoben/Austria and historically have enjoyed a very good relationship with Montan University. We are also cooperating with leading universities and institutes in the non-ferrous field.

Not all of your staff have an expert background in copper. How does that work?

Rolf Degel: I would not put it that way. They are experts now. In addition, we have strengthened our employee base with experienced people from the industry. In recent years, we organized several workshops and training sessions with the support of PolyMet Solutions and with selected clients and consultants. In general, our staff is very familiar with these types of metallurgical plants. We also included specialists from other business areas of SMS in our excellence team. The innovation level in the steel industry is usually higher than in the non-ferrous sector. Self-learning plants, the implementation of Industry 4.0, as well as innovative automation systems, burner and lance technologies have already been realized in steel plants. Today, we are transferring these ideas to the non-ferrous world.

What is the outlook for your business?

Timm Lux: Right now, the prospects look very promising. Due to tighter environmental regulations and the demand for “new” metals, new opportunities are opening up for SMS. We are currently expanding our staff to cope with market demands.