thyssenkrupp Materials UK – Firm as Steel

thyssenkrupp Materials UK continues its growth trajectory, the result of smart measures implemented over the last few years.

The long-established global materials supplier with German roots, thyssenkrupp Materials Services, is present in over 30 countries with around 380 locations, providing a vast range of metal products in different grades, shapes, and sizes as well as a range of metal-related services.

Its UK business, thyssenkrupp Materials UK, has capitalised on its recent business restructuring. Under the management of then-COO Billy Kingsbury, the company has merged two of its previously separate businesses, thyssenkrupp Materials UK and thyssenkrupp Aerospace UK, into a single business unit – thyssenkrupp Materials UK. In addition, a new fabrication division was set up and the company has further increased customer focus.

We spoke to Mr Kingsbury, now the CEO of thyssenkrupp Materials UK, last year and have come back to discuss the company’s position in the post-pandemic yet still volatile market and see how it has progressed in line with its strategy ‘Materials as a Service’.

Rewarding Progress

Mr Kingsbury affirmed that the company is in a good position, having achieved outstanding financial performance last year, the best the UK-based business has ever seen.

“Our ‘Stronger Together’ programme, bringing our aerospace and commercial materials divisions together, has proved to be a major success. Embedding the one-team culture, a task we have been working on over the course of the last 12 months, is now really starting to reap benefits.” he said.

“Our fabrications division, which we started around 18 months ago, has also been developing extremely well, growing significantly and expanding its focus. What was originally established as a business that was focused on sustainable balcony construction, is now looking at new segments such as electric vehicles – a highly promising segment for the future.”

“And the most recent change has been the move into the field of laser processing, something we had been planning for some time. We have just started to install the first laser at one of our sites and this addition will significantly expand our capability.”

Unshaken by Global Developments

He further remarked that the turbulent developments of 2022 have not seriously affected the company and that the result was positively affected by high material prices. He also confirmed that the company is well-positioned to cope with a less supportive market.

“Over the course of the last three months, we have started to see a softening in materials prices, particularly in carbon steel, which affects our traditionally strong sectors such as automotive and construction. However, we’re offsetting that with demand from the rising aerospace sector where the ramp-up is really starting to take effect.”

“A big challenge at the moment are energy prices – a hot topic, and one that affects everybody in different ways. We are addressing this in line with our carbon commitment, striving to eliminate energy wastage and considering alternative kinds of energy more closely.”

He stated that last year, thyssenkrupp Materials Services launched its sustainability strategy BEYOND consisting of 3 pillars: BEYOND CLEAN, BEYOND GREEN, BEYOND GOOD. The strategy reflects the company’s commitment to operate on a climate-neutral basis by 2030, to decarbonise supply chains and to comply with social standards using sustainable products and services.

“Our sustainability team recently presented 20 potential projects to the senior management, of which we have selected eight to move forward with. These will include solar and wind power for our largest sites where most electricity is consumed, and electrifying the company’s car fleet, to name just two,” said Mr Kingsbury.

Materials as a Service

Asked where the business fits in the continuing disrupted supply chains, he said: “thyssenkrupp Materials Services is the largest mill-independent materials distributor and service provider in the western world, and as such we see ourselves as a very strong supply chain partner.”

“With our wide-ranging expertise and in-house developed digital tools, we are able to help our customers with forecasting, which is becoming more and more important with the extended lead times, and we can also assure a consistent supply for our supply chain network.”

An example of the company’s offering is the control tower solution – an end-to-end solution from material forecasting and consulting to just-in-time delivery of materials or finished products. “The control tower solutions are tailored to the specific needs of each customer and are designed in a collaborative co-creation process that even allows for some ERP integration for certain projects.”

“They are designed to ensure the optimal coordination of supply flows. A transparent and centralised data assessment stands at the core, to align demand and supply within the manufacturing network, cutting out obsolete inventories and material shortages.”

He added that standardised quality systems and processing and logistics capabilities in 44 locations across 22 countries make the business the partner of choice for Tier Three aerospace manufacturers up to the major OEMs.

Clear Leadership

Mr Kingsbury, who has been with thyssenkrupp Materials UK for 16 years, has a clear vision for the business, and together with his new senior leadership team is set to make sure the company grows on a firm, stable basis.

Commenting on his move to the CEO role he says: “I’m really enjoying watching the way my team is growing and am proud of what we have achieved. Over the course of the last 12 months, we’ve implemented five different digital platforms for HR, including a pension and benefits platform, and – most recently – a learning and development platform, including an open library, sending our people on the self-learning route. ”

“I also greatly enjoy leading the strategy of the business and setting the vision for the future, rather than being involved in the more operational side of it. I believe it is very important that our strategy and our vision are very transparent and completely understandable for everyone across the whole business, so everyone knows where we are going.”

So, what is the strategy for the years to come? “To further develop our offering in line with the ‘Materials as a Service’ strategy,” said Mr Kingsbury. “That means getting closer to our customers and partnering with them in any way that they need us to. Last year’s results indicate that we are on the right path – to become better suppliers to our customers. That’s the main driving point behind our success and that’s exactly where we need to focus moving forward.”

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