The Plansee Group, headquartered in Reutte, Austria, has reported record sales for its fiscal year ended February 28, 2023, increasing sales by 16%, up from €2.02 billion to €2.35 billion. The two business areas of Plansee High Performance Materials and Ceratizit are reported to have contributed equally to the increase in sales.
Plansee stated that products with higher value added performed particularly well. While orders from the aerospace and medical technology industries increased noticeably, demand from the construction and electronics industries cooled down.
The company also reported that it has strengthened its core competence around the two key materials molybdenum and tungsten with acquisitions, the divestment of non-core activities and attractive orders in the past fiscal year. The group has stated its intention to further utilise group-wide synergies in the coming years.
Karlheinz Wex, Chairman of the Executive Board of Plansee Group, stated, “With our clear strategy, the great commitment of our employees and our ability to adapt our organisation to challenging framework conditions, we have successfully mastered the past fiscal year.”
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Strengthening 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,” added Wex.
Wex announced his intention to further develop the organisation’s adaptability and resilience, this comes in light of factors such as high inflation and high energy costs in Europe, geopolitical conflicts, local protectionism, and markets that are changing rapidly. Consequently, the production network and process landscapes are to be further developed to make the company more efficient and more resistant to disruptions of any kind. “This also includes the question of which products we produce for which markets in which regions,” Wex commented.
Securing the future also included sustainability and employer branding measures. Wex shared his belief that developing sustainable products for customers is a strong driver of innovation and can open up new business models. Recruiting the right employees was also noted as a prerequisite for fully leveraging the strengths of the Plansee Group in all markets in the future.
Investments in buildings, plants and new products
Successful investments made last year include the construction of a new sintering plant in Ruette, Austria, with a total volume of €12 million, and Ceratizit’s further investment of €25 million in the new production building in Kreckelmoos, Austria. Additionally, in Towanda, Pennsylvania, USA, and Jyväskylä, Finland, capacities for the production and recycling of tungsten powders were expanded and the production capacity for tungsten carbide robs in China and Taiwan was expanded. Ceratizit’s Eastern European production sites in Poland and Bulgaria were also modernised and expanded.
Additionally, in order to meet high customer demand, Plansee is reportedly currently expanding its production capacities for the medical technology and semiconductor industries in Reutte and Franklin, Massachusetts, USA.
The Plansee Group invested a total of €254 million 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. A new market was also opened up for Ceratizit through the acquisition of the French company Agricarb, a developer and producer of durable carbide tools for agriculture, farming and viticulture.
Alternatively, 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. Additionally, the production site in Los Angeles, California, was closed and the materials database Matmatch was discontinued.
Sustainability programme gains momentum
The implementation of the Plansee Group’s sustainability programme reportedly gained momentum in the past fiscal year with the focus of 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 – for example, those resulting from the production of hydrogen from natural gas. Scope 2 covers all indirect emissions resulting from the purchase of energy, such as electricity and gas. Scope 3, however, 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 reportedly now procured from renewable sources at most of the Group’s European sites and in Shanghai, China. Plansee has also signed a long-term contract with the company Linde to supply ‘green’ hydrogen, the findings from this pilot project will then also be used at other sites in the future. Ceratizit reportedly tested the first ultra-low carbon footprint products on the market, made largely from recycled tungsten; the rate of recycled tungsten in the Plansee Group was 74% in the past fiscal year.
The Plansee Group has been under new management since July 1; Andreas Lackner, Ulrich Lausecker and Andreas Schwenninger joined the Executive Board, and the previous Spokesman Karlheinz Wex became Chairman. With these cross-sectional responsibilities for key corporate functions such as production, processes, purchasing, quality and logistics, Plansee hopes to have created the conditions for closer cooperation within the group.
The group is reportedly anticipating further recovery in the aerospace industry, stable demand from the mechanical engineering and semiconductor industries, and increasing orders from the medical technology sector for the current fiscal year (started March 1, 2023), contrasting the decline in other industries and regions. Plansee reportedly intends to continue to press ahead with all projects to optimise production and processes and leverage groupwide synergies in order to offset sharp increases in personnel, energy and other procurement costs.