Orders and innovation: MFL is braving the crisis
December 14, 2020
Double orders for Maschinenfabrik Liezen und Gießerei (MFL): In the Ennstal competence centre for the European railway traffic industry, 10,000 railway components designed on the basis of 20 especially developed casting types will be manufactured until 2023. These orders will further safeguard the location in economically challenging times. The way for these orders has been paved by highly sophisticated innovation.
During the ‘Corona’ crisis, R&D has manifested itself as one of the few remaining effective remedies. But whereas in other places R&D means just research and development, MFL Managing Director Herbert Decker is deliberately talking about ‘Research and Development in the Ennstal Region’ as an economic antidote to the pandemic. “Our employees have shown a great degree of flexibility in the past challenging months – and we are really grateful for this. Thanks to this outstanding commitment combined with our strong focus on innovation, we can provide some economic rays of hope even in these challenging times”. This is also shown by the current orders placed by two international rail vehicle manufacturers: Until 2023, almost 10,000 casting components will be produced and delivered in the Liezen competence centre for the European railway traffic industry. For these two orders, 20 different casting types have been especially developed by the Upper Styrian company. The components will be used as undercarriage components for the frame respectively as a connection between carriage body and undercarriage.
Production for both orders has already been started. One order will provide for capacity utilisation in Liezen until 2022, and the other order will ensure this even until 2023. “Especially our Foundry has gained an excellent international reputation and is a much asked for supplier for numerous projects. Apart from casting, other essential value-added steps are also carried out in Liezen such as the subsequent mechanical processing of the components, X-ray tests and ultrasonic inspections as well as state-of-the-art 3-D laser scanning,” explains Decker. The order amount in total comes to a mid-range single-digit million figure. “Both purchasers are new customers that we could convince due to our high expertise and many years of experience,” says René Kreuzbichler, Sales Manager of the Foundry.
Less weight on rails
The people from the Ennstal Region can rely on an enormous wealth of experience concerning development and production: On average, 55 to 60 new castings are conceived every year – also with the help of research-oriented approaches. The current orders also incorporate know-how of a European research project implemented together with Österreichisches Gießerei-Institut (Austrian Foundry Institute ÖGI): “Even in railway traffic technology, reducing weight becomes more and more important. Therefore, we have dealt with the optimisation of topological respectively geometrical issues on a scientifically substantiated basis. Our ongoing investments in innovation pay off now, and they will also provide new jobs in Liezen in the medium term,” emphasises Foundry Manager Peter Fuchs.
Altogether the two orders are an important ray of light in a very turbulent economic situation, underlines Managing Director Decker. “These exemplary orders and this year’s performance of our Foundry, which is sensationally approaching the previous year’s level, make us confident. They should, however, not disguise the serious challenges we are facing especially in mechanical engineering and plant construction.” The second large business field of MFL aside of the foundry is currently more affected by the consequences of the ‘Corona’ crisis: “Already before the outbreak of the pandemic, machine builders from Eastern Europe rated among the big upcomers. ‘Corona’ has exacerbated this critical situation even further,” says Decker. According to him, focusing on the railway traffic industry shall result in a new economic stimulus in this field in the medium term. “Therefore, we feel confident that before long our business field Mechanical Engineering will also be able to leave short-time work behind and return to normal operation - just like we did in the Foundry several weeks ago,” summarizes Decker the company’s plans.