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Faced with strong demand, the SGL Group is not taking the easy way out, but rather pursuing its R&D and partnering efforts. In this way, it will be able to continue proposing innovative products to suit the market’s future needs.
(Published on October - November 2007 – JEC Magazine #36)
SGL Group, the Carbon Company, was created in 1992 from the merger between SIGRI/Germany and Great Lakes Carbon/USA. Its headquarters are located in Wiesbaden, Germany. The Holding (SGL Carbon AG) is an independent legal entity. Organized as a management holding with two business areas and three global business units, it intends to be as close as possible to the different markets it covers.
A global presence
At year-end 2006, the SGL Group had annual sales of more than a billion euros and a workforce of more than 5,000 people. The company has close relationships with its customers through a sales network that spans the globe, supported by more than 30 production sites in Europe, North America, and Asia.
SGL Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of carbon-based products. Focusing on creating innovative solutions and value for its customers, the company relies on its core competencies and on the philosophy of SGL Group Excellence. The company has a comprehensive portfolio ranging from carbon and graphite products to carbon fibres and composites. Its indepth and broad knowledge of materials, production expertise, and extensive applications and engineering know-how enable the Group to offer customized solutions.
A well-organized business structure
The Group is organized to be as responsive as possible, with a decision chain that is just as short as it is efficient.The duties of the Board of Management are defined according to a Management Holding concept. The Executive Committee (EC) provides the overall strategic direction, and the operational business is managed by global Business Units (BUs). Fundamental business decisions are taken on two levels only, the EC and the BU-Management Committees (BU-MCs).
Practically speaking, the Group organization is as follows:
The four business lines of the Carbon Fibres and Composites BU cover the following markets: aerospace, automotive, chemicals, defence, energy, high-temperature technology, mechanical engineering, medical, plastics, power stations, racing sports, satellites, sealing, semi-conductors, sports equipment, technical textiles and tool manufacturing. The companies present core business is the PP part, the main target for the near future (2008- 2013) is a stable PP business and a expansion in the AM area.
Giving wings to its ambition
Thanks to its products that are recognised for their good performance, the SGL Group has successfully penetrated all, or nearly all user sectors. The popularity of carbon fibre is such that the Group should continue to develop steadily. It recently announced that its Los Angeles-based US subsidiary, HITCO Carbon Composites, Inc., has been awarded a contract extension to supply flap track fairings to Boeing for the 767 Programme through April 2008. HITCO will produce two ship sets per month. To meet the growing demand, the Group decided to invest in a new R&D centre large enough for 100 people at its Meitingen site in Bavaria. It also decided to join the Carbon Composites Association, which works to promote companies that use or produce carbonfibre and fibre-composite technology in the southern part of Germany. SGL Group’s teams are now motivated by the determination to use all available skills to develop new products. SGL Group is on the way to built a graphite electrode plant in Malaysia which is a 120€M investment.
(Many thanks to Dr. Hubert Jäger, Senior Vice President, Chairman Technology & Innovation and Dr. Jan Verdenhalven, Chairman Carbon Fibers & Composites for their collaboration)
Within the scope of SGL Group’s participation in the Carbon Composites Association, we spoke with Dr. Reinhard Janta, who had more to say on the Group’s reasons for joining and its objectives.
JEC Composites Magazine: You are one of the Association’s “heavyweights”. How do you envisage working with the other companies, in particular the smaller ones?
DR. REINHARD JANTA: Our objective is to run projects of common interest that will also interest smaller companies. It is also our intention as a raw-material producer to develop more applications for carbon fibres. This is mostly a competency of smaller companies, too.
JCM: What do you expect to get out of your commitment to the Association?
DR. REINHARD JANTA: Presently, carbon fibres are an expensive alternative to metals and other composite materials. SGL Group is the only independent European producer of carbon fibres, and therefore intends to lead efforts to develop a carbonfibre- based industry. Our target is to install additional fibre and precursor capacities in Scotland and Germany in a short time, develop new and cheaper highperformance fibres, and improve our knowledge of carbon composite materials by bringing the knowledge carriers from industry and research institutions like universities closer together.
JCM: Are the programmes you are participating in compatible with SGL Group projects?
DR. REINHARD JANTA: Common programmes are presently under discussion. Our intention is to make them compatible with our internal programmes to save time and money. The other members of the Association are working towards that, too.