- Success story
AMADA – Austria is perfect for manufacturing products with a high added value
AMADA is one of the world’s largest machine and tool producers. The company considers the business location of Austria to be particularly strong in the field of metallurgy. According to AMADA, Austria offers the best technological framework conditions anywhere in the world.
One can leverage a pool of good people when searching for key personnel in Austria.
Questions posed to Katsuhiko Kawabata, President of AMADA Austria GmbH
In the middle of the 1980s, AMADA decided to build a production facility for bi-metal band saw blades and press brake tooling in Europe and ended up selecting Austria. Why was Austria able to assert itself in European location competition at that time?
The issue of subsidies was one of the important decision-making criteria in our selection of a production site. Austria rates highly in this regard. However, this advantage alone would have been too little. Government subsidies in the Alsace Region or in Northern Ireland were actually higher at this point in time.
Ultimately, traditional business ties comprised the crucial factor underlying the decision for Austria. AMADA had already worked together with the Austrian company voestalpine Böhler in the 1970s. The strong personal bond of trust between the founder of AMADA and Mr. Schreck, who represented voestalpine Böhler in Tokyo, also proved to be a decisive factor.
If AMADA had to make this decision today, would it select Austria again?
A lot has changed in the business world since that time. If AMADA built a production facility in Europe today, this would probably not be a completely fresh start, as it was with AMADA Austria in the 1980s. The acquisition of an existing European competitor would be a more likely scenario today.
You successively expanded the facility in Austria over the past decades. This included a new production line for hard metal band saw blades built in 2001 and successfully put into operation in 2003. What were the last expansion steps at the site and what is happening at present?
We significantly expanded our production line for hard metal band saw blades between 2018 and 2021. We also installed ceramic coating machines for these hard metal band saw blades. Major changes were also carried out in the production of press brake tooling. All this was made possible by investments totalling € 16 million over the past three years.
In your experience, what are the strengths of the Austrian business location for a mechanical engineering company such as yours?
The Austrian business location is excellently suited for the production of special technologies and products with a high added value. Moreover, we boast a high technological level both in terms of IT technology as well as in the automation of the production facilities. However, there is no doubt that metallurgy is the biggest strength of the business location. The best technological framework conditions anywhere in the world are right here in Austria. We hope they will be further developed in the future.
Which framework conditions in Austria are particularly important for the success of AMADA?
The cost-effective supply of renewable energy, which has becoming increasingly important in recent years. Naturally, energy is always an important aspect in metal working and heat treatment.
How would you rate the quality and motivation of Austrian employees in an international comparison? What sets them apart and how important are these qualities for the success of your company?
All our employees are highly qualified. It is also crucial that every department has key personnel ensuring the smooth functioning of the company. One can leverage a pool of good people when searching for key personnel in Austria.
From your point of view, how has the Austrian business location changed over the years? What has improved and what do you think was better in the past?
First of all, the standard of living has improved and thus staff costs have increased. The economy was stimulated by the rise in living standards and purchasing power. Freight transport within Europe has expanded. Accordingly, Austria’s geographical location in the heart of Europe is advantageous.
Were there any particularly formative or noteworthy events, turning points or personal experiences in the corporate history of the Austrian facility which you vividly remember?
The new hard metal band saw blade facility in operation since the year 2019 has substantially increased production volumes. All manufacturing plants now function in line with Industry 4.0, which in turn has considerably improved the working conditions of employees. We also want to implement such improvements in other production processes in the future.
What is AMADA planning for Austria in the future? Can you already tell us anything about this today?
I believe that environmental protection, energy self-sufficiency and unmanned production will be the keywords for future manufacturing in our plants. Special efforts will have to be made to achieve these ambitious goals.
How has ABA supported AMADA from its initial business location project up until today?
In the company’s early days, we were given extensive support by ABA, for example by Wilfried Gunka. We were also provided with relevant tips on how to deal with cultural differences, especially concerning employees and the management. In recent years ABA consulted us on construction of the new production lines, including the issue of public funding.
Do you have any wishes with respect to the Austrian business location or Austrian Business Agency?
I think that seminars for Japanese companies on the issues of investment incentives, visas and working conditions in Austria would make sense.
And finally, one last question: what do you personally value the most about Austria?
More than anything else I personally value the beautiful natural scenery and the relaxed living conditions.
AMADA Austria GmbH
The Japanese AMADA Group was founded in 1946 and is one of the largest global producers of machinery and tools today. AMADA Austria commenced operations in 1987 with 100 employees. The facility in Ternitz, Lower Austria is home to its R&D and production centre for high-quality bi-metal and hard metal band saw blades as well as press brake tooling. Since 2010, the Austrian subsidiary has focused on the production and development of hard metal band saw blades, investing € 16 million in the site over the last three years. Hard metal band saw blades are used by industry, whereas the precision band saw blades are primarily used in aircraft production and in the European and North American automotive sector by customers such as Boeing, Airbus, VW and Mercedes. The company employs a staff of about 170 employees and generates revenue of € 30 million p.a.
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