AMAG’s research strategy aims to enhance competitiveness through developing customer-specific solutions to problems, as well as dedicated special products, thereby making important contributions to its growth strategy.
A high level of specialisation, state-of-the-art production technologies and far-reaching digitalisation play an important role in this context. R&D activities also include optimisation of material properties and efficient material deployment. AMAG focusses here on collaborating with key customers from technologically challenging sectors with high Innovation potential (e.g. automotive, aviation).
For many years, AMAG has focused on the responsible and resource-conserving production of aluminium. A high level of recycling expertise, particularly of more heavily contaminated scrap, and application-oriented research and development form the basis for the innovation of sustainable products. AMAG's innovation and R&D activities are the drivers for increasing competitiveness and developing customer-specific problem solutions as part of the profitable growth strategy. Many of the product innovations directly or indirectly address current and global social and ecological issues - such as the scarcity of fossil resources, the circular economy, climate change and mobility. Special attention is paid to solutions that enable closed-loop concepts with customers as well as alloy-to-alloy recycling or allow recycling-friendly alloys and cross-over alloys, reduce environmental impacts (e.g. lightweight components) and offer new and improved application possibilities.
Responsibility for coordinating the research, development and technology of individual companies lies with the Corporate Technology department, whose management reports directly to the Chief Operating Officer. The department is responsible for the development, further evolution and implementation of the R&D strategy, cooperation with (non-) university research institutes, the new and further development of products and processes, application-oriented materials development, digital analysis technologies and the intellectual property (IP) strategy for the screening, safeguarding and exploitation of intellectual property. The operating companies also have their own technology areas. The focus in the casthouse is on recycling, metallurgy, metal analysis and casting technologies. In the rolling mill, priorities include sector-specific material and process development, process optimisation and materials testing. The accredited testing centre with its departments for special assignments, chemistry/surface technology, materials testing and environmental measurements not only delivers the test results required but also the data necessary for assessing R&D test results. AMAG is supported by a science and technology advisory board in its further development of products and processes. The advisory board has been an important companion of AMAG since 2008 and is composed of eight professors from various universities (ETH Zurich, JKU Linz, University of Leoben, Vienna University of Technology, Graz University of Technology, and the Max Planck Institute in Düsseldorf). The experts on the advisory board support scientifically oriented projects and assist AMAG with technical topics. Equally, members study current technical literature and communicate concerning important publications, scientific and technological developments and trends, or patent applications. The science and technology advisory board, which meets every six months, develops measures to promote innovation, which are taken into account in AMAG’s R&D strategy, among other areas, and their implementation is monitored on an ongoing basis.
For more informations, please see annual report 2021.
2022 target / medium term:
In the 2021 reporting year, the scientific and technological advisory board was expanded in relation to AMAG components. Going forward, a new member provides support in the area of the machining of aluminium and titanium.
Innovations form the basis of the company’s success. With 148 employees (as of December 31/individuals) in research and development, and expenditures in this area of around EUR 16.7 million (2020: EUR 14.6 million), the AMAG Group is positioning itself as an innovation leader. This strength will be further expanded by integrating research and development more closely, incorporating customer requirements to a greater extent into innovation processes, and expanding cooperation with customers and external partners.
AMAG reports a current share of specialty products of 42 % (2020: 41 %).
The ongoing supervision of dissertations, master’s and diploma theses, and bachelor’s theses forms one pillar in the recruitment of academic experts. AMAG’s objective is to start supervising three new dissertation projects each year. In particular, by supervising final theses, potential young talent can be tied to the company at an early stage and the proportion of graduates can be kept consistently high. In the 2021 reporting year, the graduate rate at Ranshofen remained unchanged at 11 %, while at AMAG components it stood at 9 %. A total of ten ongoing dissertations are being supervised at the CMI (Center for Material Innovation), while five were started. Two former doctoral students were recruited as new employees for AMAG. They continued their work in the same field, among other areas. Where necessary, follow-up dissertations on important topics have already been started. AMAG is thereby within its target range of 12 ongoing dissertations.
Together with the B&C Private Foundation, a further alliance agreement was signed with the Chair of Nonferrous Metallurgy at the University of Leoben in 2021. Associated with this is the funding of an “Aluminium Microstructure Analysis Gainhub (AMAGh)” to further bolster aluminium research in Austria. In line with the endowed professorship already established in recent years, this investment will once again support the advancement of highly qualified researchers to post-doctoral level as well as an excellent research infrastructure, enabling AMAG research topics to be addressed at the highest level at the Chair of Nonferrous Metallurgy. The focus of this alliance is on research into the microstructure of aluminium in order to be able to control its properties in further processing and applications. The alliance agreement provides for a financial contribution from the two foundation partners AMAG and B&C in the amount of more than one million euros over the seven-year period.
The activities in the digitalisation area were further intensified in order to strengthen customer, supplier and employee relationships through the "digital partner experience".
The strategic thrust in the digitalisation area has been summarised in a Digitalisation Compass. It comprises the three goals of "operational excellence", "product leadership" and "proximity to part- ners" with eight defined action areas. With sustainability functioning as the overall guiding concept, all digitalisation activities must deliver economic, ecological and social benefits.
In particular, the expansion of the data infrastructure ("predictive management" action area) with the help of Big Data solutions, contributes to the efficient storage, preparation and processing of large volumes of data in the production area. This allows process limits to be better set and negative influ- ences to be counteracted in a targeted manner, leading to more stable processes and lower product tolerance fluctuations. Further Information: AluReport 03/2019
With regard to customers, AMAG aims to continue to be an attractive partner that meets their requirements. In order to respond flexibly and precisely to market requirements and to be able to differentiate itself from competitors, the organisational structure is constantly being developed further. In addition, processes are being simplified and digitalised to work more effectively, efficiently and swiftly. The business focus is on the production of first-class aluminium products with the smallest possible carbon footprint. AMAG covers the entire aluminium value chain from primary aluminium to finished aluminium rolled products and recycled cast alloys. This enables the company not only to talk about scrap content, but also to prepare calculations of net carbon impact including primary aluminium production. At the customer’s request, for example, it is possible to obtain the required primary aluminium from the Canadian Alouette smelter, which generates the electricity for the smelter from hydroelectric power.
Customer expectations are crucial to AMAG’s production, service and quality. Accordingly, AMAG has set itself the goal of further deepening its understanding of customer requirements and customer relations. The company thereby aims to improve its processes and performance and to prove compelling and convincing to customers through excellent service. Strategically, AMAG is very well positioned and covers various sectors with an extremely widely diversified product portfolio. All aluminium alloy families are produced at its Ranshofen facility. Consequently, AMAG is in a position to supply its customers with bespoke specialty products for a wide variety of applications. The integrated Ranshofen site with recycling, casthouse and rolling mill, combined with a primary metal base secured through the interest held in Alouette in Canada, enables customer needs to be quickly and flexibly met. Sales are handled via AMAG’s headquarters in Ranshofen and supported by the sales offices. AMAG components marks the expansion of AMAG’s product portfolio into components and ready-to-install parts made of aluminium and titanium for the international aircraft industry. The combination of the casthouse and rolling mill in Ranshofen with mechanical production at the two AMAG components sites in Übersee and Karlsruhe, coupled with AMAG’s high level of recycling expertise, is unique worldwide.
For more informations, please see annual report 2021.
2022 target / medium term:
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) introduced to measure customer satisfaction was conducted again in autumn 2021. The NPS increased slightly compared to the previous year, reflecting the satisfactory trend this year. In total, over 500 customers were contacted and a response rate of around 30 % was achieved. Customers particularly emphasised AMAG’s stability in terms of long-term partnerships, the quality of its products and its ongoing product development against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. AMAG is perceived as a sustainable company by both trade and OEM/Tiers customers.
A pleasing trend in shipment volumes was recorded in the 2021 financial year. In the 2021 reporting year, the Rolling Division shipped around 227,800 tonnes (2020: 198,900 tonnes) of high-quality aluminium products from the Ranshofen site, while the Casting Division shipped around 89,600 tonnes (2020: 81,700 tonnes). Almost all shipment segments of the Rolling Division registered a positive performance. Demand for aluminium in the aircraft industry remained subdued. The relevant market for the Casting Division relates mainly to Western and Central Europe. The automotive sector, including its supplier industry, represents the division’s largest customer industry. Demand for automobiles in the European Union improved significantly following significant reductions in the previous year.
The first AMAG aluminium certified in accordance with the international Chain of Custody Standard of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) was delivered to Audi in Neckarsulm in 2021. The material produced in accordance with this stringent sustainability standard is deployed in the outer skin of the trunk lid of the Audi A6 Avant. For AMAG, this order not only represents the first-time shipment of ASI-certified material, it also marks the company’s entry as an outer panel supplier for this model series. The shipment target of 20,000 tonnes of ASI-certified aluminium set for 2021 was not achieved due to the fact that most of the supply chains were not fully certified. In the automotive sector, however, ASI certification in some cases already represents a new award criterion. Sales in this customer segment advanced for this reason.
In 2021, a total of 9,799 suggestions for improvements were submitted. The implementation rate stood at 78 %. A major focus was on the topic of “product quality”, for which specific workshops were held. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some CIP meetings and workshops could be held only under difficult circumstances. Training on waste as well as learning problem-solving methods, which could not be held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was targeted in 2021.
Since the reporting year 2017, AMAG has published a summarized non-financial statement in her management report, thereby fulfilling her reporting obligation in accordance with the Sustainability and Diversity Improvement Act (NaDiVeG). It summarizes the essential information for AMAG on the five required aspects of environmental issues, employee issues, social issues, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery.