Fiscal year 2013/2014: Course set for future growth – TRIMET integrates new sites and extends its product portfolio
By acquiring two production plants in France and the electrolysis plant in Voerde, TRIMET was able to meet the continuing high demand for aluminum alloys and semifinished products over the course of the last fiscal year by producing higher volumes. The company’s electrolysis plants, foundries, and recasting plants were working to full capacity and produced around 700,000 metric tons of aluminum. With 2,700 employees, the family-run business generated a profit of 32.3 million euros (including 21.5 million euros attributable to the first-time consolidation of TRIMET France). The material specialist expects a further increase in demand over the course of the current fiscal year. “Our order books are virtually full again for the coming year. There is already an aluminum deficit in the Western world due to the huge demand. That is why we will continue to increase production capacity at our existing plants,” says Dr. Martin Iffert, CEO of TRIMET Aluminium SE.
Automobile production remains a driver of growth
The electrolysis plant in Voerde, acquired at the end of May 2014, has a production capacity of 95,000 metric tons a year and is a leader in Europe in the production of high-purity aluminum. Among other things, these qualities are needed for superior casting alloys. To this end, the family-run business is investing in the expansion of its foundry in Essen. A new continuous casting line with capacity for 60,000 metric tons a year will be commissioned there in the coming year. With the production plants in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Castelsarrasin, TRIMET has extended its portfolio to include the manufacture of aluminum wire. TRIMET will expand annual production capacity at the electrolysis plant in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne from 90,000 to 145,000 metric tons by the end of the year. The sites in France were acquired by TRIMET in December 2013 in a joint venture with the French energy company EDF and around 100 million euros will be invested in expanding and modernizing the plants over the next three years.
The continuing trend toward lightweight parts in vehicle production remains the strongest driver of growth for aluminum and is also increasing demand for high-quality aluminum wire, among other things. “With the growth in the number of aluminum parts comes the rise in demand for connecting elements made of the same material. Having special alloys means that we are now also able to supply custom solutions in this product segment,” says Iffert.
Innovative load management
With new processes aimed at making aluminum electrolysis more flexible, TRIMET is playing its part in the stabilization of power grids and the adaptation of industrial production plants to cope with a fluctuating energy supply. Within the terms of Abschaltverordnung – which translates as the power shutdown regulation – production plants were taken off the power grid at short notice twice in the last fiscal year in order to avoid serious disruption to the power supply. Besides the electrolysis plant in Hamburg, the TRIMET production plant in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne is now also in a position to partake in the primary reserve in order to secure the power supply. The virtual battery model developed by TRIMET, which turns aluminum electrolysis into an energy storage system, has been undergoing technical trials since mid-2014. To this end, twelve electrolysis cells at the plant in Essen have been converted so that their output while running can be increased or restricted for several hours. The test is being publically funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and scientifically overseen by the University of Wuppertal. “Our method offers a solution to one of the biggest challenges associated with the transformation of the energy system,” says Iffert.