Dynamic growth through timely investments
Four years ago, the Polish materials supplier Metall-Expres commenced an investment program with the aim of broadening its scope from distribution to production. The opening of a new plant in 2018 was followed by a decision to procure an UPCAST® line for the continuous casting of oxygen-free copper rods. One of the key criteria for the procurement was the ability to reuse copper scrap from the production process.
Poland has for a long time been regarded as one of the top ‘copper countries’ in the world – in 2015, it was ranked fifth among the countries holding the largest anticipated economic resources of copper. With decades of deep-rooted history in the mining business, the country has made use of its resources and has become the major minerals producer in Central Europe, overmatching almost all the other European countries.
It was not, however, the Polish resources or traditions that made Metall-Expres a well-established expert in its field of operations: since its founding in 2003, Metall-Expres has grown from a four-person company to employing 120 people, thanks to dynamic decisions and timely investments.
– Merely a year after the founding of Metall-Expres, Poland joined the European Union and new markets opened up in front of us. Now, after 17 years of operation, we are still growing dynamically and for the past four years, we’ve been shaping our business to achieve even new market areas, says Mr. Robert Żak, Deputy Director of Metall-Expres.
Metall-Expres provides its customers with a wide range of products made from copper, aluminum, brass and stainless steel. The company’s offering covers virtually everything from flat bars and rods to profiles, wires, tubes, sheets and strips – sold either as standard or customized products to meet the customers’ exact needs.
Until recently, Metall-Expres acted solely as a distributor, but in 2018 the company took a giant leap forward, as it opened a new plant in Zaczernie in southeastern Poland and started its own production.
– We believe that the demand for non-ferrous conductive products, especially those made of oxygen-free copper, will increase in the near future. By starting our own production of wires, profiles and rods, we will be able to answer those needs with high quality products, says Żak.
When asked about the driving forces behind the expected growth, Mr. Żak names one above the others: energy. As the ways of energy production evolve, the need to minimize losses during energy transmissions will become even more crucial. That’s why oxygen-free copper, known for its high electrical conductivity, plays an essential part in the future of energy distribution – and the future Metall-Expres as well.
– The commencing of our own production of oxygenfree copper profiles and rods has allowed us to expand our geographical focus. We are now also able to provide our products to customers outside Europe.
Although there are a large number of copper mines and, thus, sources of virgin copper in Poland, the ability to reuse copper scrap was one of the key criteria when Metall-Expres began to look for possible suppliers of a new casting line. Now, the new plant in Zaczernie accommodates an UPCAST® production line with an additional melting furnace for postproduction copper scrap.
– The non-scrap process can be run at the same time as the additional furnace melts down scrap copper. This way, the reuse of scrap copper will not result in any additional downtime. Being able to run the line continuously is crucially important from an economic point of view, says Żak.
The maximal utilization of their new UPCAST® line ensures that Metall-Expres can produce sufficient quantities of oxygen-free copper rod with a diameter between 8 and 25 millimeters. But quantity alone won’t be enough: the rod must also be of the highest quality. That’s why Metall-Expres has its own laboratory, equipped with the latest equipment, where they measure the oxygen levels, chemical contents and mechanical properties of their products before they are delivered to customers.
– We want our customers to get the best possible products for their needs. That’s why we only use raw materials that fulfill the highest quality standards. Of course, we apply the same quality standards to our own processes and demand the best from our suppliers. With our new UPCAST® line, we can achieve the quality standards we push for.
While the new UPCAST® line at Zaczernie is just at the beginning of its lifecycle, Robert Żak trusts that it will serve just as expected for years to come.
– Cooperation with UPCAST has been straightforward from the beginning, and the help and service support of the UPCAST engineers has been of great importance to us. We can always rely on their technical support, says Żak.
Tuomas Rajaviita, Sales Manager at UPCAST
– From the first meeting, it was clear that Metall-Expres was familiar with the copper business. They had a clear vision on how to make the most of the casting line. They have good quality copper scrap available and instead of selling the scrap it is a good idea to charge the clean scrap to UPCAST® process and produce oxygen-free copper rod.