Strengthening the internal performance
The challenging framework conditions included fluctuating raw material prices at a comparatively high level, as well as sharply rising input prices for energy, consumables and supplies, and other external services. "With several price adjustments, we were able to pass on a large part of our costs to customers" says Karlheinz Wex.
High inflation and high energy costs in Europe, geopolitical conflicts, local protectionism, markets that are changing rapidly: Karlheinz Wex announced his intention to further develop the organization's adaptability and resilience in a world full of uncertainties. Consequently, the production network and process landscapes are to be further developed to make the company not only more efficient, but also more resistant to disruptions of any kind. "This also includes the question of which products we produce for which markets in which regions," says Karlheinz Wex.
Securing the future also included sustainability and employer branding measures. Developing sustainable products for customers is a strong driver of innovation and can open up new business models, he said. Recruiting the right employees is a prerequisite for fully leveraging the strengths of the Plansee Group in all markets in the future.
Investments in buildings, plants and new products
Investments successfully completed last year included the construction of a new sintering plant in Reutte/Austria, with a total volume of 12 million euros. Ceratizit invested a further 25 million euros in the new production building in Kreckelmoos/Austria. In Towanda/USA and Jyväskylä/Finland, capacities for the production and recycling of tungsten powders were expanded. In addition, production capacity for tungsten carbide rods was expanded in China and Taiwan. And Ceratizit's Eastern European production sites in Poland and Bulgaria were modernized and expanded. To meet high customer demand, Plansee is currently expanding its production capacities for medical technology and the semiconductor industry in Reutte/Austria and Franklin/USA. In total, the Plansee Group invested 254 million euros in buildings, production facilities and product development in the past fiscal year.
Acquisitions, divestments and plant closures
Plansee expanded its tungsten activities in North America with the acquisition of MiTech Metals in the USA. The acquisition of the French company Agricarb opens up a new market for Ceratizit: Agricarb develops and produces particularly durable carbide tools for agriculture, farming and viticulture. Non-core activities such as the ceramics business in Livange/Luxembourg, tantalum production in Liezen/Austria and the bonding shop in Sakura/Japan were successfully divested. The production site in Los Angeles was closed. The materials database Matmatch was discontinued.
Sustainability program gains momentum
The implementation of the Plansee Group's sustainability program gained momentum in the past fiscal year. The focus is on reducing the carbon footprint. In the base year 2020/21, this will be 300,000 tons in Scope 1, 2 and 3, with Scope 1 and 2 accounting for 120,000 tons. Scope 1 covers all of the company's direct CO2 emissions, e.g. from the production of hydrogen from natural gas. Scope 2 covers all indirect emissions resulting from the purchase of energy, e.g. electricity and gas. Scope 3 covers indirect CO2 emissions that arise, for example, from the production of purchased raw materials and input materials or from the transport of goods.
Electricity is now procured from renewable sources at most of the Group's European sites and in Shanghai. Plansee has also signed a long-term contract with the company Linde to supply so called “green” hydrogen. The findings from this pilot project will also be used at other sites in the future. Ceratizit tested the first ultra-low carbon footprint products on the market, made largely from recycled tungsten. The rate of recycled tungsten in the Group was 74 percent in the past fiscal year.
Since July 1, the Plansee Group has a new management team. Andreas Lackner, Ulrich Lausecker and Andreas Schwenninger joined the Executive Board, and the previous Spokesman Karlheinz Wex became Chairman. With cross-sectional responsibility for key corporate functions such as production, processes, purchasing, quality and logistics, Plansee has created the conditions for even closer cooperation within the Group.
For the current fiscal year, which started on March 1, the Plansee Group's Executive Board anticipates a further recovery in the aerospace industry, stable demand from the mechanical engineering and semiconductor industries, and increasing orders from the medical technology sector. This contrasts with declining demand in some other industries and regions and high inventories in the supply chain. Plansee intends to continue to press ahead with all projects to optimize production and processes and leverage groupwide synergies in order to offset sharp increases in personnel, energy and other procurement costs.