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A technical leader in aluminium

A technical leader in aluminium

Having green lighted a third phase expansion of its factory complex in Minsk, Belarus, Alumintechno is increasing its annual production of extruded aluminium profiles to 45,000 tons – a capacity that will reinforce its position as one of the largest aluminium manufacturers in the CIS market. Sarah Pursey speaks to Mr Gudkov, Marketing Director, to learn how new innovations in the field of green building and the company’s growing commitment to sustainability are going hand-in-hand with its impressive growth strategy. Written by Marius Goubert.

Established in 2004

Alumintechno represents the largest of four in-house pro- duction divisions that make up the Alutech Group: a manufacturing and sales holding company with multiple operations presently spanning some 30 countries. The Group itself was established within the Republic of Belarus back in 1996. Despite relatively humble origins – with the company initially employing just six workers – it has under- gone a rapid pace of development over the years by adding new divisions, quickly mas- tering new product lines and bringing to the market a series of innovative technologies.

The creation of Alumintechno in 2004, however, marked a key milestone in the Group’s development. As an independent division, it commenced operations as a spe- cialist producer of aluminium profiles, and has developed a world-class manufacturing complex in Minsk currently covering a 24,000 m2 area and producing 28,000 tons of extruded profiles per year. In 2006, its operations were expanded with new pro- duction and administrative buildings, which saw the installation of additional extruders, vertical powder coating lines and an anodising complex.

While its annual capacity for powder coated and anodised profiles stood at 10,000 tons and 4,000 tons respectively in 2009, the company deployed a 9-inch press line for profiles – the fourth in succession – which brought its total annual capacity up to 28,000 tons per annum. “Overall, Alutech Group represents the CIS market’s largest producer of aluminium profile systems for constructions,” begins Mr Gudkov. “Of the Group’s four main production operations, Alumintechno is the largest producer of extruded aluminium profiles. Our sister companies include Alutech Incorporated, which produces window shutter systems and gates; Alutech Door Systems, which supplies garage and automated doors, and Alstrong – a company that makes die casting details and manufactures components and accessories for shutter systems, as well as sectional doors from aluminium alloys.”

Building capacity

While its product range initially centred around aluminium systems used in the con- struction of balconies, the company has gone on to develop a comprehensive product port- folio of some 15 aluminium profile systems. “One of the most complex systems that we offer is used for facade construction, as these can involve a lot of modifications, particularly for insulated window and door systems,” continues Mr Gudkov. “We also offer systems with different thermal insula- tion properties, and a special range of products for internal construction solutions. We produce four different types of partition or wall division system used for commercial structures such as offices, trading shops and business centres. We also offer customised profiles that we produce directly from design drawings supplied by our clients.”

Although Alumintechno presently oper- ates a total of 18 different production lines, the company recently announced the con- struction of a new factory complex as part of an expansion project that is set to com- mence in 2013. This will almost double its current capacity to more than 40,000 tons per annum and, as Mr Gudkov reiterates, it will involve the construction of a new fac- tory on the same site as the company’s cur- rent complex: “The new facility will have three extrusion press lines in addition to powder coating lines and an anodising complex. Indeed, the planned increase in capacity will make us one of the largest aluminium producers in Europe. Overall, the purpose of the new plant is to both increase the capacity of the products we currently offer to the market and to produce an innovative range of green building system that we currently have under development.”

Going green

As reflected by the rapid growth of the Alutech Group since the mid-1990s, innovation and product development have remained a key part of the company’s strategy. As such, Alumintechno maintains an R&D department staffed by 30 specialist personnel that aims to not only improve existing systems, but to also pioneer new products in response to changing market demands. “Our aim is to be an inno- vative leader and to anticipate what systems our customers will be looking to source in the future,” he explains. “As such, we are currently developing a new aluminium system for doors and windows with very high thermal insulation properties. We are also finalising research on a new system that we anticipate will be launched towards the end of 2012 or early 2013 under the name ‘EF65’. This will specifically be for multi- storey, skyscraper developments.”

In addition to anticipating the more general needs of the market, Alumintechno also collaborates closely with clients to develop specialised prod- ucts on a project-to-project basis. “In gen- eral, we focus on highly innovative modern products and, on occasion, our clients under- take unique developments that may require some special solutions,” he continues. “If we look at the Belarus market, for example, we participated in the construction of the Aqua Park where we customised the system with very high insulation levels. We also participated in the construction of a new Volkswagen automotive centre that utilised a very large unit of glass weighing more than 500kg. Other key projects include the Silver Tower project in Minsk, which was con- structed using non-standard aluminium profiles, and the Palace of Republic in City Almaty, Kazakhstan. We also supplied profiles to the Gagarin Plaza Odessa, and generally we acquire around 30 per cent of the major projects in Russia, and between 70 and 80 per cent of large-scale projects undertaken in Belarus.”

Overall, Alumintechno’s client-base is divided into two main groups – the first of which is represented by compa- nies engaged in the architectural design of a project and, as Mr Gudkov has previ- ously described, many of these clients often require a customised or specialised solution. “We support these clients during the design phase of the project,” he explains. “The second group of customers are those engaged in the execution of the project, and they work closely with us and purchase our materials for the project’s construction.”

Local leadership

Yet, the expansion of its production capacity has become vital as the business struggles to extend its geographical presence. While its key markets are currently represented in the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and the Baltic states, Alumintechno is aiming to pursue new opportunities for growth into Western Europe. “With our present capacity, we are able to meet the needs of clients within our main markets,” explains Mr Gudkov. “We also have some contracts in the US, as well as in Asian countries like Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. However, we are working on the acquisition of a new European certification that will give us an opportunity to enter a range of new markets in Europe.

“Initially, we will be targeting Poland, Germany, Italy, Norway and Finland but, with our current capacity, we are unable to ship to these countries, and that is why we are undertaking the construction of our new production facility. Indeed, we foresee that much of our future growth will come from Western Europe, and to ensure the con- tinued success of the business, we will look to maintain the reputation for innova- tion and pragmatism that has continued to distinguish our operations to date. We are trying to be an innovative market leader, and our strategy centres upon the development of systems that will give us an edge over our competitors. This has been the reason for our ongoing success and our leadership position within the domestic and regional market.”

Positive prospects

As it strives to maintain a clear edge over its competitors, Alumintech has also identified training and development as a key priority for the business. In total, the company over- sees a workforce of 700 personnel – 500 of which are employed in the company’s pro- duction shops. “The development of spe- cialists, particularly those engaged in production and marketing, is one of the most important elements in the development of our plant,” informs Mr Gudkov. “Our employees regularly undertake training schemes, and we also study and analyse the schemes offered by our competitors. We are continually learning new programmes for projecting and calculation, and we recently developed a new system for construction calculations which allows us to purse a lot of additional opportunities. We can build different types of construction with that new system, which was developed by our company and released under the name of ‘Alupro’. To stay abreast of the latest devel- opments in the market we regularly attend special exhibitions in Germany, Asia and Russia, and this allows us to learn about new trends in the market and identify potential new clients.”

While Alumintechno is able to rely on strong in-house R&D capabilities, the company also collaborates with a range of external institutions, including the Belarusian National Technical University in Minsk and the Ministry of Architecture in Belarus. Through these collaborations, the company aims to support the develop- ment of the construction sector, and the improvement of thermal insulation prop- erties has been identified as a key objec- tive as it seeks to reduce energy loss.

“As mentioned, we are expecting to gain a European certification for the construction of thermally insulated facades and systems by the first half of 2013. Under the ITC (International Technical Centre), informa- tion about our systems will be provided to the client, and the company that undertakes the building contract will be able to have a European mark on the construction project. Overall, we are confident that a growing focus upon sustainability and our expanding production capacity will enable us to develop our geographical presence and ensure the long-term growth and develop- ment of the business,” he concludes.