ERJ: How would you summarise the markets for Trelleborg Sealing Solutions products and services during 2018, and what is the outlook for next year?
PH: Our year-end result will be public on 13 Feb, but we can conclude from our nine months report that January-October 2018 have been strong for Trelleborg Sealing Solutions.
We have had healthy growth in all major geographic regions, notably Asia, and in industries such as automotive, aerospace and the general industry.
As part of a publicly-listed company we are unable to give an outlook for 2019 before it is communicated from the group as a whole (February).
ERJ: Which factors will most influence the direction of these markets in 2019?
PH: The growth that is taking place and is expected to continue in Asia demonstrates geo-economic and geopolitical shifts in power eastwards.
The market outlook is, however, associated with greater uncertainty than previously, with trade policy decisions potentially having further consequences for global economic development.
At the same time Trelleborg’s local presence and global reach provides strength. We can leverage our global strength and capabilities, while acting as a local partner to our customers.
Trelleborg’s strategy is to strengthen its position in attractive market segments. For Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, additional focus has been on healthcare & medical, as well as e-mobility.
ERJ: What are Trelleborg Sealing Solutions’ main priorities for 2019 in terms of enhancing its capabilities to serve customers?
We are constantly working on several levels to better serve our customers: investing in new technologies, machineries and human capital, developing local markets etc.
With the focus on healthcare & medical, we have invested heavily into significant technologies that will help accelerate our customers’ performance over the coming years.
In addition in silicones, we acquired SSF in 2016, and we see this expertise enhancing our current market offering in this specialist market sector.
During 2018, we also signed an agreement to acquire Sil-Pro, a US-based company that specialises in applications mainly for medical technology original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
The transaction, which has reached the final stages of completion, will be a valuable complement to our existing offering and will expand our product range in such areas as drug delivery and surgical tools.
In 2018, we undertook an agile development programme related to e-mobility sealing and in 2019, two new seals will be launched that we expect to have a significant impact on e-axle design, supporting our customers’ in their quest to extend the distance travelled from one charge for electric vehicles.
Which materials and/or production technologies will be particularly important in the market next year, and why?
We offer a very broad portfolio of proprietary products and materials, each of which is significant to its specialised applications.
In addition to the above, we will also be advancing our composites technology in aerospace following the acquisition of Automated Dynamics in 2017.
We will also continue to develop solutions based on our unique ‘lubrication management’ concept and enhance our offerings of rotary seals, amongst other innovations.
ERJ: Any other points?
Looking at the year in perspective we also would like to highlight our new innovation centre in Germany.
This is a critical element in the business area’s global R&D network and services such as our online tools, seals-shop and service offerings that are aimed to make it easier for customers to do business with us.