AEROSOL EUROPE: As a technology and world market leader in forming technology, Schuler AG provides machines, systems, tools, expertise, and services to the whole metalworking industry. Since the beginning of 2014, you have been Managing Director of the SYSTEMS Division. Can you sketch Schuler’s organizational structure in rough terms and comment on the place of the SYSTEMS Division within the group?
Johannes Linden: The Schuler Group has six divisions that cultivate different markets. The SYSTEMS division, which is divided into 7 business units, gathers all applications for which quick-running forming machines are used; that is, machines for the manufacturing of coins and medallions, electric motor laminations, battery housings, and metal packaging. We have more than 40 years’ experience in the packaging industry. On the other hand, tool construction and presses for chassis and transmission parts are also part of SYSTEMS. The division is represented in four Schuler locations in Germany and China.
AEROSOL EUROPE: What medium-term goals have you set as the Managing Director of the SYSTEMS division?
Johannes Linden: My goal is profitable growth for the division, in which all business units can share equally. For the packaging sector, the concern will be to transform the development work of past years into a leading position in forming machines for beverage and aerosol cans.
AEROSOL EUROPE: In order to find the best solution and thus the best product, you use different technologies. Can you please give us a brief overview?
Johannes Linden: For the manufacturing of metal packaging, we use two completely different processes, impact extrusion and a process that combines deep-drawing and wall ironing. For the manufacturing of aluminum aerosol cans, we offer forming machines for both processes in our product lines.
AEROSOL EUROPE: What do you do to meet your customer’s high demands?
Johannes Linden: We generate customer benefits in the packaging sector through longer tool life thanks to play-free tappet rod guidance and the avoidance of cumbersome machine bases thanks to dynamic mass balancing. We also produce locally for our customers in our plants around the globe. This not only reduces delivery times, it saves unnecessary transport and customs costs. In addition, we offer global service, with more than 900 employees who provide professional help around the clock. The securing of the productivity and availability of the systems is the highest priority for us in order to enable our customers to achieve economic success.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Can you bring us up-to-date in this context, especially with respect to your product lines?
Johannes Linden: We offer the broadest portfolio of forming machines for the manufacturing of D*I cans and we are the only company to offer cupping presses, wall ironing presses, and necking and flanging machines from a single source. We also offer impact extrusion presses and deflashing units for the manufacturing of aerosol monoblock cans. This means that we can provide manufacturers with complete solutions: from the design of the can and construction of the tool to technical process support, installation and start-up of the entire line, on through to the training of employees. In addition, we provide core components for necking machines for the manufacturing of resealable beverage bottles.
AEROSOL EUROPE: What are your core markets?
Johannes Linden: Europe, China, the USA, and Brazil. The average American consumes approximately 15 times as many cans as a Chinese. However China will certainly continue to catch up.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Which markets do you regard as essential for the future?
Johannes Linden: Precisely in the packaging sector, we are delivering more products to Africa and the Middle East.
AEROSOL EUROPE: How do you regard Russia, India, and Asia overall?
Johannes Linden: At the moment, we cannot estimate when the market in Russia will recover. We were successful in India in 2015 and we see further growth there, whereby the volume of cans is extremely low as compared to the population. Indonesia, Vietnam, and other Asian countries also look promising.
AEROSOL EUROPE: What role does the German-speaking realm play?
Johannes Linden: Happily, Germany plays an important role. The capacity for slug manufacturing is being expanded further, this year we also anticipate investments in the aerosol can and beverage can industry.
AEROSOL EUROPE: In the near future, will you be putting innovations on the market?
Johannes Linden: We will round out our cupping press offerings. The Servo CupFormer 1200 is designed for applications on the aerosol and bottle market, while the CupFormer 4500 offers the highest output for beverage can production.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Mr Linden, we thank you for this interview.