‘We always want to be first’

The already solid backlog of orders of the Magdeburger Förderanlagen - und Baumaschinen (Magdeburg Conveyor Systems - and Construction Machinery) GmbH (FAM) is becoming ever fatter. Vattenfall Europe Mining AG has recently ordered equipment from FAM for open-cast mining in Reichwalde. After a long lull, finally there is a major order from inside Germany. The FAM order backlog has now reached some € 500 m. ‘We will now be working to capacity for the next two years’, states Managing Director Dr. Lutz Petermann. Extensive additional investments are planned at the Magdeburg location. With a total of 1,400 employees worldwide, of which some 800 are at their headquarters in Magdeburg, FAM is – in terms of its business size – still a medium-sized company.

Managing Directors Dr. Lutz Petermann and Hartmut Möckel are also members of the company. In the preceding two decades, however, the ‘little’ Magdeburg conveyor systems builder has developed into one of the leading providers of open-cast mining, bulk material, storage and cargo-handling technology. The FAM Group includes subsidiaries and representative offices in Germany, Russia, Chile, Canada, Singapore, China, Bulgaria, Hungary, Australia, South Africa and the USA.

Before the recent Vattenfall deal, new business was exclusively export-driven. FAM’s strongest market is Chile. Some 500 employees at the subsidiary there manage the entire South American market, on which almost half of the FAM export is realised. FAM is delivering transport technology for a copper ore extraction plant in Chile. In Uzbekistan, the Magdeburg company constructed a € 60 m treatment plant for an open-cast brown coal mining plant on behalf of a Chinese general contractor. In China, the company is, in the words of Dr. Petermann, ‘broadly positioned’ with transport and conveyor technology for open-cast mining and power stations. The order backlog also includes large-scale ship loading systems for port projects in Columbia, Canada, Chile and Latvia as well as bulk handling and treatment plants in South Africa, Mozambique and Sierra Leone.

One of the largest customers is the Canadian company Suncor Energy. FAM is delivering and installing for Suncor the complete processing and transport technologies for an oil sands plant in the Canadian prairie province of Alberta – order value: € 300 m. A total of 12,000 tonnes of steel is processed on an area of 700 x 400 metres for this complex alone. FAM is building two treatment plants, at each of which 14,000 tonnes of oil sand is transported per hour. The project is scheduled for completion in 2016. Follow-up orders are not out of the question, as about one third of all global oil sand deposits are to be found in the Western part of Canada. Their treatment is becoming increasingly important. The oil-rich layers of sand are excavated in open-cast mining operations, crushed, soaked in water and chemically treated to produce synthetic crude oil. Thanks to its oil sands, Canada now possesses the second largest oil reserve worldwide after Saudi Arabia.

In 1993, the conveyor systems manufacturer from the Magdeburg district of Sudenburg was privatised as one of the first German mechanical engineering companies, including – amongst others – by Dr. Lothar Petermann, the father of the current Chairman of the Management Board, Dr. Lutz Petermann. The company can look back on a history now extending to 105 years as a specialist in transport plants. In 1908, the businessman Georg Becker opened a business for transport devices in Magdeburg and founded the Georg Becker & Co engineering works at the location of today’s headquarters.

The company has grown rapidly in the two decades since its privatisation, not only in volume but also in the scope of production and the number of employees. If you ask Dr. Lutz Petermann for the reasons for this steep rise, he will always put his ‘extremely committed, target-oriented team’ at the forefront, confidently stating: ‘We know that silver medallists do not win anything. In our line of business, 2nd place is the first loser. We do not intend to be second.’

In the last years, the Magdeburg location has been accordingly further strengthened with its large-scale production area. Over € 50 m has already been invested in the expansion of the Magdeburg-based company, with particular focus on the newly constructed major steel plant, the new heavy-duty lathes in the mechanical engineering area and a new steel cutting system. ‘This tempo will continue’, announces Dr. Petermann. The plans include state-of-the-art conservation areas and a logistics centre. This financial year, FAM will have a turnover of more than € 300 m. FAM is building for the future.

Author: Rainer Lampe/regio.m