Dr. Guido Kleinschmidt was unanimously elected President of METEC 2019 at the Presidium Meeting of the trade fair quartet GIFA, METEC, THERMPROCESS and NEWCAST in July 2018. The Chief Technical Officer of the SMS group is the ambassador of the industry and the central face to the outside world – no matter whether it is in relation to industry, science, the media or other target groups.
How do you assess the current situation in the metal and steel industry in general?
Dr. Guido Kleinschmidt: After difficult years, the situation of steel producers has improved. Steel prices have increased significantly and the profits of many of our customers are developing accordingly. However, it must also be noted that there is still global overcapacity in the steel industry: Around 30 per cent of the capacities are currently not being used. This corresponds to about fifteen times the German steel industry.
What does Industry 4.0 mean to you?
Kleinschmidt: Our idea of digitisation or Industry 4.0 is most vividly illustrated by the example of the ''learning steel mill''. The ''learning steel mill'' optimises and controls itself independently, based on human know-how, physical relationships and complex mathematical models. This happens online and in real time. As a result, essential performance parameters are improved, such as product quality, throughput time, adherence to delivery dates, output and, at the end of the day, our customers' profits. Our past as well as future success is mainly based on the networking of all aggregates involved within a steel mill on the one hand, but also on the networking with the systems of suppliers and customers on the other hand.
How important is the globalisation of the industry?
Kleinschmidt: We are keeping a close eye on the geopolitical developments, which naturally have an influence on our business. The effects of the sanctions on Iran or Russia as well as the Brexit uncertainty are prominent examples here. We are closely monitoring developments around protectionism and trade restrictions. SMS is a strong advocate of free trade, even though we occasionally benefit from market developments such as those currently taking place in the USA. Global megatrends such as urbanisation, green energy, connectivity and mobility also have an impact on our industry. We do not only react to these trends, but we also actively drive them forward with innovative products, processes and business models.
What role does METEC play as matchmaker, contact platform and exhibition fair?
Kleinschmidt: METEC is our largest and most important trade fair. As the world market leader based in Düsseldorf, we are particularly looking forward to welcoming the entire industry to our company. We live in exciting times. The whole industry is in upheaval. Cooperative relationships between our customers and ourselves are becoming increasingly important. In this respect, METEC is the ideal platform for us to show our customers a multitude of innovations!
SMS group is a group of companies internationally active in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals industry. It has some 14,000 employees who generate worldwide sales of about EUR 3 billion. The sole owner of the holding company SMS GmbH is the Familie Weiss Foundation.