How can a comparably small company like AMAG hold its own against these seemingly superior powers on every continent? Simple: by following the credo of “quality, not quantity”.
In the area of rolled aluminum products, AMAG is a global player and performs in the Champions League with a high degree of innovation and sustainability. Only a few companies are active in this area, but they often significantly outperform AMAG in terms of sales and workforce.
A company that produces commodities will not be able to operate profitably over the long term in a country with high energy and personnel costs. It is therefore important to focus on products that are harder to manufacture and require specific materials and manufacturing expertise -and to do so with consistent, demonstrably high, certified quality. These specialties enable AMAG to achieve its successes in the marketplace.
This focus on specialist products is a central pillar of AMAG’s strategy. However, developing such products is only made possible by an optimal combination of several factors:
- Extensive, in-depth knowledge of materials, from input materials to finished products
- Modern plant and machinery
- Precise knowledge of processes and how to combine them, from smelting through to packaging with minimal tolerances
- Understanding process parameters and their impacts on alloys in order to achieve the desired characteristics
- Monitoring market developments and customer requirements in order to offer customized solutions in a timely manner
Innovation promotes sustainability; sustainability promotes innovation
Since the early 1990s, AMAG has also focused on scrap aluminium as a raw material. In fact, almost 80% of the material AMAG uses is scrap, with alloying metals and primary aluminium to precisely adjust material composition accounting for the rest. In addition to many other positive environmental aspects, a further benefit of using scrap as a raw material to manufacture products is that it takes less than 10% of the energy required to produce new aluminium. AMAG follows a science-based approach to turn scrap materials into sustainable products. Without scientific research, its product development activities would be a mixture of trial-and-error processes and flukes -at best.
High concentration of expertise
The result is an exceptionally broad spectrum of R&D activities performed by our teams. While this significantly increases the complexity of our R&D operations, having all our specialists working in close proximity ensures that customers in different sectors benefit from each new innovation: we serve customers purchasing cast alloys with the same audited meticulousness as customers in the aviation industry -and all our customers benefit from our recycling expertise. It allows us to ensure that metallurgical and process-related innovations in one area are rolled out across the board in next to no time.
AMAG has built an extensive network of dependable research partners, supplemented by an advisory committee for scientific and technological affairs. This committee helps AMAG to implement its R&D strategy by monitoring global research activities and trends, and supervising scientific projects. Cooperation partners range from technical colleges (höhere technische Lehranstalt - HTL) to university dissertations, depending on the specific topic. In addition to universities and institutions across Austria, AMAG also enjoys close relationships with several institutions in Central Europe.
The AMAG Innovation Prize
Innovation and technological development are particular priorities at AMAG. To reflect the importance of these aspects, innovative projects are recognized in the Product Innovation and Production Innovation categories at AMAG’s annual prize-giving ceremony. The event also includes the Best Paper Award, a special prize presented for the best publication of the year. In addition to scientific cooperation on materials development and simulation, the awards also cover all value-adding areas, from optimizing scrap utilization to facilitating the intelligent use of data analysis. The success of this cooperation confirms that AMAG is on the right track.
AMAG is a front-runner in many areas, demonstrating technological leadership in our field. The company’s consistent focus on specialist products regularly yields world firsts -such as AMAG Titanal® Green 80, a high-strength alloy with a guaranteed scrap utilization rate of over 80%, and AlSi7.Rec, the first recycled cast alloy with a scrap utilization rate of over 70% for use in safety-related components. In total, specialist products like these account for over 50% of AMAG’s revenues.
With AMAG’s expertise and the results of the SoRA project, even seemingly worthless scrap can be turned into high-quality products. Material development is a protracted process and involves considerable work to convince customers to introduce products, sometimes with modified tolerance windows, and to purchase them in corresponding quantities. If we were to stop this research today, it would not cause problems tomorrow -but it certainly would in ten years’ time. This is why, despite our leading position in relation to sustainability, we must continue our efforts to “sustain” our position at the top.
AMAG will further reinforce its position as an industry frontrunner by following this systematic approach and maintaining our commitment to (product) diversity and focusing on specialty products. Our customers highly value AMAG’s solution-oriented expertise.
Would you like to know more?
This article might also interest you: