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Vital vacuum

As CEO of Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum, Dr. Andreas Widl is one of the PV industry’s leading lights. Here, he talks to PES about the evolution of the company and the technological advances that have made it a major global player.

PES: Welcome to PES magazine, for the benefit of our readers who might not be acquainted with your company, can you outline how you serve the PV industry?
Andreas Widl: For the past 160 years the business focus of Leybold Vacuum has been vacuum technology, a prerequisite for most modern manufacturing process. This is also the case for the PV industry. Only 5-10% of total investment is spent on vacuum technology, even though vacuum is the enabling factor in the production chain. Vacuum plays a role in growing silicon ingots, wafer processing, all relevant coating processes and lamination. Application know-how, and the experience of selecting the right vacuum solution and systems for the different applications are crucial for a stable and reliable production as well as essential for secure and profitable processes.

PES: You operate in a number of production sectors, can you tell us about the importance of PV to your overall operation and whether this sector is growing?
AW: From delivering vacuum for the first electric light bulb to delivering vacuum for research institutes, Leybold has always been a forerunner in new technological fields. The photovoltaic industry is no exception. With our well proven know-how of semiconductor and coating applications, we were well positioned to serve our customers when the PV sector started growing and will certainly continue to optimise our product offering in order to grow with market opportunities. Moreover, the PV industry offers socially and environmentally acceptable energy solutions, and we are excited to participate in this kind of sustainability.

PES: A German company with a global reach, which other markets are you actively targeting at present?
AW: Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum also serves markets covering coating technology, industrial process industries, analytical and life science instrumentation, research & development institutes and universities. This wide range of technological fields ensures that our team is well versed in all existing demands and able to detect future trends. Due to our global footprint, we understand regional differences and can adjust our offering accordingly

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