As CEO of Meyer Burger, Peter Pauli has helmed the company through a period of impressive – and perhaps unprecedented – growth. Their all-share acquisition of 3S Industries has created a company with a workforce comprising more than 1,000 employees, making it the world’s third-largest PV equipment supplier. Here, he tells PES about the past, present and his strategic plans for an even-more buoyant future.
PES: Welcome back to PES magazine, for the benefit of our readers who might not be familiar with your business, can you outline how you serve the photovoltaic industry?
Peter Pauli: We are an equipment supplier to the solar industry and we focus on the wafer side, producing wafers and producing equipment for use in modules. Our main business is wafer lines and module lines and we have three technologies in the cell lines, such as coating and automation and handling systems.
The company was founded 50 years ago and at the time we produced machines for drilling and machines for watch bearings. Along the way we achieved leadership in cutting wafers for the semiconductor industry and market leadership in a product to cut semiconductor wafers. The market then contracted because the company was too focused on the old technology, but we came back in the late 90s producing and developing machines for the solar industry and also cutting machines. From 2002-2009 we developed new products for the fast-growing solar industry, achieved an IPO in 2006 and then acquired several companies, the latest being a merger with 3S. So now we have measuring technology, wafer handling, transportation systems and robotics, as well as module lines.
PES: We’ve been reading about your recent collaboration with Oerlikon, can you tell us a little more about this project, and the benefits you hope to realise?
PP: The technology Oerlikon have in their systems was basically developed for DVD coatings and the company focused on thin film but it was a product that they were not able to market on its own. We went into cooperation and took on the marketing phase and a joint development agreement. We can focus this technology on the crystalline silicon cells, and we look forward to having more technology on the cell side so we can close the gap between wafering and modules. We are technology-driven, so we want to have technology which enables us to become leaders in the market.