ANDRITZ Metals Germany GmbH – Manufacturing to the Highest Standards

As a leading equipment and industrial machinery manufacturer, ANDRITZ plays a vital role in the new Allegro high-speed rail venture.

ANDRITZ Metals, one of the four business areas of international ANDRITZ GROUP with headquarters in Graz, Austria, provides innovative and market-leading solutions for production and processing of flat products, for welding systems, as well as furnaces and services for the metals industry. ANDRITZ’s technologies and service solutions have made it a world leader offering the bespoke solutions its clients need.

We deal in high-end material production facilities,” says Dr Heinz Autischer, Group Senior Vice-President and Global Head of Metals at ANDRITZ. “Our products process materials for the automotive industry. We have heat treatment lines to make special material properties for specific needs, railway wheel plants for high-speed trains. Our customers have the highest quality demands on their materials, and we rise to meet them, whether it’s for the automotive industry, aerospace or in this case railway wheel production lines.”

New Production Facility

The latest example of what ANDRITZ is capable of can be seen in an ambitious, technologically cutting-edge plant that the company is building to serve the joint venture of EVRAZ and the Rail Service Industrial Group in building the new Allegro high-speed wheel train production plant.

The Austrian industrial equipment manufacturer has been awarded a contract to provide a full-cycle railway wheel production line for a $200 million factory.

“We can deliver the complete production facility for the customer, utilising the latest developments for the railway wheels and our latest generation of heat treatment machines and quality improvement controls,” Dr Autischer says. “We have the best technology in hand for this new facility.”

When completed, the production line will be the most advanced ever built in this industrial sector. Built in the Titanium Valley Special Economic Zone in the Sverdlovsk Oblast, the factory will see its first equipment deliveries arrive in the first quarter of 2022, with the production itself beginning in Q4. The foundation of the factory will create 425 jobs for the surrounding area.

Of course, in many ways, it is an unorthodox time to sign up to help build a new factory.

“This plant is still in the engineering phase. We signed the contract in the middle of the first wave of the Corona pandemic, so that was very challenging,” Dr Autischer tells us. “Our objective is to have the plant up and running in 2022.”

While the plant might not be a reality yet, ANDRITZ has delivered similar plants elsewhere over the last couple of years. This plant, once completed, will have an annual production capacity of 200,000 solid-rolled wheels, with the possibility of increasing this to 300,000 wheels a year as demand grows.

The plant must be built to the absolute highest standards as the manufacture of railway wheels is a demanding process that calls for unique competencies and quality control throughout the value chain, beginning with steel production.

Forging New Talent

To maintain those high standards, it is important to continually recruit, invest in and develop talent within the company, and ANDRITZ takes this job extremely seriously. Dr Autischer insists the company work closely with universities and schools to bring fresh talent into the fold.

“We identify young talents in order to bring in new students, new young engineers, and train them to our standards and further develop their skills,” he says. “In parallel with that, we have comprehensive development programmes among our own staff.”

This development focuses on the kind of high-end techniques that are essential for ANDRITZ’s work.

“We have some global development activities where we specifically focus on high-end tensions and talents in the area of functional development,” Dr Autischer says. “If someone wants to be a process engineer, we offer development programmes and a lot of possibilities to take over responsibilities within the business. We give them something to focus on to get experience, often including working abroad for a couple of years.”

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disruptive effect on this and every area of the business, but ANDRITZ has been able to adapt to the “new normal” successfully.

“We have a strong organisation in China, so when the pandemic started earlier this year, we were immediately affected by that,” Dr Autischer says. “In the beginning, we didn’t think it would have such a dramatic impact on the rest of the world but soon we realised it had a huge impact on all our entities. We did a good job in continuing to execute our ongoing orders with minimum delays. Together with our customers, we’ve been very successful in that.”

Having adapted to the challenges posed by the first wave of the pandemic, Dr Autischer believes ANDRITZ is well placed to mitigate further spikes in COVID-19, and he is optimistic about the year to come.

“It’s been very challenging, but we can see things are starting to pick up again. I have the feeling our industry can adapt to the second wave,” he says. “We’re used now to working remotely, we have safety measures in place. We can find a kind of normal. All in all, I would say we have seen much lower volumes in Q2 and Q3 but it’s starting to get better lately but still on a lower level than pre-COVID-19.”

Full Steam Ahead

Beyond Coronavirus, Dr Autischer is clearly enthusiastic about ANDRITZ’s prospects going forward, and the role it has to play in shaping the industry at large. The company will continue to focus on specific offerings for its customers in areas where it can provide added value in the production of new materials in the flat product processing sector. Dr Autischer is also keen to show customers the new possibilities provided by digital tools in production optimisation. Above all, he believes ANDRITZ can be a valuable partner for its customers.

“We’re helping them to have a more reliable and more sustainable production while offering them a close long-term partnership as we’re providing services to them,” Dr Autischer says. “We want to become even more of a partner than we have been already. We want to further develop our business in the after-sales area, utilising new technologies while continuing to develop machines which can give the customer new technological benefits and produce new materials which meet their demands.”

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