In short, pan conveyors and bucket elevators are real all-rounders. There is no bulk material, however hot, abrasive or chemically aggressive, that cannot be conveyed by an Aumund Pan Conveyor or Bucket Elevator. The specific application dictates the technical design and dimensioning. Knowledge and alignment of these details are the key to opening up and penetrating further bulk materials markets of increasing importance to us, such as mining & minerals and the chemicals industry, in particular the fertiliser sector.
From a technological point of view, what particularly stands out about the Aumund Companies today?
In fact, today we have to look at the complete range of products and services of the Aumund Group, from its three manufacturing brands, Aumund Fördertechnik, Schade Lagertechnik and Samson Materials Handling. In a nutshell that means that our products and performance are always the connecting element between two stages of a process, whatever the industry. For example, we have been a partner to the cement industry all over the world since the 1970s, assisting with layout and design planning, where we are able to incorporate the product range of the Group, as it covers the complete production cycle of storage and conveying technology, from material extraction in the quarry or reception of material from ships or rail wagons, to bulk materials storage in circular, longitudinal or homogenising stockyards, through the complete production process up to loading of clinker. The particular advantage is that with all three product companies we offer an extremely broad spectrum with a very considerable intensity of product range. It is the same for all of the industries we supply.
Which current examples can you give us of measures to safeguard the future of the company?
With an investment of around € 200000 the new Showroom, which has been established in a converted factory hall in Rheinberg, was another good decision for the future. Since July this year the display room has been delighting as a meeting point for customers as well as training and seminar participants.
Conservation has long been a serious matter for us. Way back in 2010 we installed a solar panel system on the roof of all 12 production halls in Rheinberg, which cost € 2.2 million and provides 600000 kilowatt hours of electricity per annum. In 2020 we will invest approximately € 1.1 million in a state-of-the-art precipitation water drainage system in Rheinberg.
In recent years you have bought up other companies to add to the Group. What were the reasons for this?
Looking back on the whole time period up to now, we can identify three strategic phases. The first phase went up to the end of the 1990s. During this period we invested predominantly in the development of our own products. Some of the significant product launches were the Pan Conveyor in 1962, the Bucket Elevator with Central Chain in 1968, Belt Bucket Elevator and Steel Silos in 1977, the Armoured Chain Conveyor in 1988, and in 2000 the first Arched Plate Conveyor.
At the beginning of the 1990s the second phase began. We started to expand our product portfolio by acquiring companies with an exact fit. My purpose in securing Louise Maschinenbau and WTW Engineering in 1991 and Besta & Meyer Maschinenfabrik in 2014 was first and foremost to concentrate the product know-how in drag chain conveyors and silo discharge systems, but also to strengthen our important spare parts business.
When we acquired Schade Lagertechnik, founded in 1879, in 2001 and B&W Mechanical Handling, founded in 1966 (now Samson Materials Handling), in 2002, we deliberately carried on the established brands in order to preserve their international name, their competence and their own identity, and of course to benefit from these advantages ourselves. The impact of the Aumund Group on the market in this day and age is largely due to the three product companies, Aumund, Schade and Samson. With their product ranges they are equally active in all key industries, often in conjunction with each other. The synergies between the companies, and their comprehensive conveying and storage solutions often lead to them being asked to give joint proposals for large projects.
We are currently in the third strategic phase, the era of our expanding international focus. Because the three product companies and the Aumund subsidiaries are active internationally, the Aumund Group now is spanning the globe. In 1975 the Aumund subsidiaries in Brazil and Canada were incorporated, and in 1980 USA followed, with France in 1991, then Switzerland, in 1996 India and Hong Kong in 2005. The Aumund representative office for technology, purchasing and production was opened in Beijing/China, in 1994 and this was followed by the incorporation of the Aumund subsidiary in Beijing in 2006.
Our innovative service concept Premas 4.0 is currently setting another emphasis. Its name reflects its programme, standing for “preventive” and in the style of Industry 4.0, our 4.0 stands for “Predictive Maintenance Service” meaning proactive, digitally supported maintenance instead of just precautionary maintenance. The hub for these activities is Premas AG in Switzerland, fully supported by our pool of inspectors and supervisors, and this is yet another important advantage within the Aumund family.
In the Aumund Group, people of approximately 30 nationalities are employed. How do you manage solidarity and the required efficiency?
The knowledge and experience of our employees is for me the most important asset of the company, which is why we invest continually in education and training. In recruitment we build on qualified personnel from our own ranks as well as from outside. Our concept of lifelong learning starts off with opportunities for school pupils, and continues with our technical and commercial apprentices and students. What’s more, a new Aumund Seminar Centre is currently being established in Leipzig/Germany, where courses on specially selected subjects will be held.
For staff development, in particular for managerial roles, we use our globally integrated network of Aumund locations. In order to encourage international exchanges within the Aumund Group, high achievers get many fixed-term transfer opportunities to gain valuable experience in other countries and get to know other cultures. In addition to the personal development of the employees I think it is also a good way to improve international team spirit and transfer of knowledge between sites, which is an extremely important basis for our internationally focused business.
As an example, Germany is of course the technological centre of Aumund, but our colleagues in India support us in a very valuable way by developing for example also software programmes. As well as the sales activities of Aumund India, we practically have our own software company there too.
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In 2022 Aumund will celebrate its 100th anniversary. What makes you sure that the Aumund Group can look forward to a successful future?
For over forty years the Aumund Group has exported more than 80 percent of its production. For decades we have known for certain what globalisation means, where opportunities and risks lie, and what effects geopolitical influences can have. Therefore we are always vigilant, and try to recognise any changes in our sales markets, and political or economic uncertainties at an early stage, and take precautionary countermeasures.
A further prerequisite for success, now and in future, is that Aumund Fördertechnik be led by a new and young management team. The Managing Directors, Dr Pietro de Michieli (Sales), Reiner Furthmann (Technology) and Dr Volker Brandenburg (Finance) have many years of international experience, which they have gained in leading positions with Aumund and in other notable career postings. These are complemented by our experienced managers in the overseas subsidiaries who all have excellent knowledge of their markets.
I am convinced that we are well-positioned now and for the future and that we will always have the right ideas to enable us to recognise and fulfil the requirements of our customers.
Recently you celebrated your 75th birthday.
What are your personal goals for the future?
I will gradually step back from business operations, and adjust to a future consulting role in the Group. Principally I will concentrate more fully on the activities of my foundations. Currently I am also working on the extended new edition of the Aumund company chronicles, “3 Generations – 3 Emphases”, which documents in detail the development of Aumund during the eras of my grandfather and my father, both of which lasted for decades, and in my time the growing international focus of the company and the expansion of the Aumund Group.
How do you feel about meeting up for another chat in 2022 when Aumund turns 100?