Dr. Denecke-Arnold, hand on heart: how are you feeling after about four months of exceptional circumstances in your new office?
The current situation is an enormous test for all of us – not just for me. In the last few years, a lot of things have come together for us – and on top of that, the pandemic and this war have exacerbated the situation. We had to restructure, resort to short-time working in some cases and generally act sparingly. I therefore have great respect for the commitment of the workforce – despite all the uncertainties. The green transformation and our Strategy 20-30, however, give us a strong perspective. For us and for our customers.
What can customers look forward to in the near future?
To the results of our hard work! We are moving ahead with important issues all over the mill. Many of my colleagues are working on Strategy 20-30 plant projects right now. Great things are happening here.
For example, the new walking beam furnace. I was allowed in before the start of production: the interior of the facility looks like a small cathedral – impressive is definitely the word for it. We will have significantly better surfaces and increase our production capacity. And the double reversing stand, for which we will lay the foundation stone in Bochum and serve the boom in non-grain-oriented electrical steel. Many things are now becoming real. We are a great company that does not need to be backward in coming forward and that, as a stabilizing factor in the Ruhr region, secures many jobs. We have great customers – that's why we give everything here.
Let's stick with the modern plants that are starting to operate now. For example, the new FBA 10 in Dortmund and the VA 13 in Andernach. What are the advantages here?
With the FBA 10 hot-dip galvanizing line, we can much better serve the demand for hot-dip galvanized sheet in the automotive industry. The VA 13 coating line in Andernach is the world's most modern chromium plating line for chromium(VI)-free packaging steel. We are proud of these major projects.
What feedback are we getting from the market from our customers?
We have a customer base that believes in us. They appreciate our company, our products and our quality. Looking ahead, customers are also very positive about the fact that we have introduced bluemint® Steel. Interest in green products is growing rapidly. And our customers also know that it is currently a major task for us to build new plants given the integrated gas supply systems that have been optimized over the years.
Given the challenges ahead: What is your focus looking ahead to the coming year?
One very important issue is stabilizing our production process. That is my personal focus. This naturally also includes optimized logistics and excellent quality performance. After all, the greatest demand is of no use to us in the end if we can't meet it. I am confident, however, because many good things have already been initiated here. Among other things, there is a comprehensive action plan that pays full attention to our Strategy 20-30.
Finally, a personal question: 23 years in one company – that's quite unusual these days. What is the attraction of thyssenkrupp Steel for you?
Steel is simply fascinating, it has a long tradition and yet is enormously versatile. The size of the plants and the red-hot steel – if you've never seen this, you're missing out! Then there's the mentality of our teams: the great cohesion here, the solidarity, even when things go badly. And: now we also have a central lever to achieve climate targets by converting our production and to shape the transformation of such an important industry.