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AAF Interview by www.worldcement.com on Oct -Nov'15


World Cement talks to Alberto Arregui, AAF Spain General Manager, about the company’s

World Cement interview with AAF: Part 1

Published on 27/10/2015

Question 1-1:
Please can you give a bit of background to the company? When was it launched, in which industries is it active, in which markets is it present, etc.
Answer :
Our reputation for providing quality products and innovative solutions dates back to 1921 when a young paint shop entrepreneur called Bill Reed, pioneered the removal of airborne contaminants to improve the quality of automobile paint finishes. Currently the company has more than 3000 employees worldwide and has two business divisions: Air Filtration and Power & Industrial.
 
The Air Filtration division is focused on clear air solutions for many different sectors such as pharmaceutical, microelectronics, laboratories, homes and commercial buildings, including EPA, HEPA and ULPA filters together with gas-phase filtration systems.

The Power & Industrial division is focused on advanced products and solutions in industrial air filtration and is divided into two divisions: MFAS (Machinery Filtration and Acoustic Systems), which the core business is the sound insulation and filter systems for gas turbine and diesel engines equipment and APC (Air Pollution Control), for which the core business is the dust collection systems design for various industries (cement, steel, boilers, etc.).
 
With an extensive list of references spanning more than 90 years, AAF International has tackled some of the most difficult applications in almost every industrial sector. From wet, sticky, oil-laden air to hydroscopic and explosive dusts, AAF International has products and solutions to compliment all the different types of operations our customers are facing.


Question 1-2:
Industry in the 1920s must have looked a lot different than industry in the 21st century. When Bill Reed developed the Reed Air Filter, do you think he had any idea how great the need for industrial filtration would become?
Answer:
Bill Reed was a visionary who was able to grow his business to the point that AAF is considered as the grandfather of the air pollution control industry. Back in 1932, AAF introduced the type D RotoClone® scrubber, a revolutionary breakthrough in the dust control industry. In 1939, the company introduced the first self-cleaning electrostatic precipitator and in 1954 AAF designed the first reverse-jet dry fabric dust collector. The previous examples give us an idea about the industry´s needs, which Bill Reed was able to anticipate. Without a doubt he had a very good understanding of how big this market would become.


Question 3:
How do you see the market for air filtration changing, particularly in the cement industry? Can you comment on geographical trends?
Answer:
The air pollution industry is driven by legislation. With this in mind the recent changes we have seen in the States with the new NESHAP regulations result in a huge opportunity for retrofitting existing installations. It is a challenge for the end users to meet the new regulations and we are now discussing limits and pollutants not even considered a few years ago. Discussing mercury abatement technologies and total hydrocarbons is now common every time we need to face a new project and that will be the scenario in other regions in a short period of time, for example in Europe.
 
ESP conversions into baghouses is also an active market, as particulate emission limits are more and more restrictive and can be achieved only with bag filters.
 
Regarding geographical trends, during these last years the North African market has been very active. The economy in Europe is slow and that also has a consequence for our business. We do see the market in Middle East as a good opportunity, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
 
 

World Cement interview with AAF: Part 2

Published on 28/10/2015

Question 2-1:
Can you talk about some of your early projects, and how these compare to projects now?
Answer:
Although the basic concepts remain the same, there have been a lot of improvements in the way the projects are managed. Automation and controls are now a key part of the installation performance. Also the use of new tools for mechanical design and the progress of powerful CFDs have changed the development of our installations.

Another radical change has been the current global management concept versus the ‘too local’ of the old times. We are able now to manufacture in any part of the world and design globally, while giving local support to our clients during the onsite activities.
Our customers are mainly multinational companies with many plants around the world, and AAF offices can attend them very closely.

 
Question 2-2:
AAF started life as an American company, but you have offices around the world. How did this expansion occur – i.e. where did it begin and when and how has it expanded?
Answer:
American Air Filter Co. Inc. was founded in 1929 when Reed Air Co. Inc. merged with seven leading air filter manufacturers. In 1935 the first foreign sales agent was appointed in Sweden and in the 1940s the commercial business began to boom. In the 1950s AAF started supporting the nuclear industry and landed in overseas markets through licensees. American Air Filter of Canada. Ltd. was formed in 1952.

In the 1960s the International Group continued growing. In 1966 our Cramlington plant in Great Britain began making dust control products and in 1968 our Emmen, Netherlands office and plant were stablished as the European regional headquarters. In 1972 Asia regional headquarters were formed in Singapore and the French and Spanish plants were opened.

All this growth took placed under Bill Reed´s leadership. Without his presence, the company was sold to Allis-Chalmers in 1978. Ten years later AAF International was bought by Snyder General and in 1994 was acquired by the Hong Leong Group. The Asian market growth demanded two regional headquarters in Malaysia and China by 2002.

Finally the company was bought in 2006 by Daikin Industries, founded in 1924 and headquartered in Osaka, Japan. Nowadays, Daikin employs more than 44 000 employees globally and is number 1 in the air conditioning global market.
 

Question 2-3:
What is the ownership structure today and does this have any bearing on the way the company operates? Has the style of doing business changed with the ownership of DAIKIN?
Answer:
Yes, there has been a change and for the company 2006 represents a milestone in our history. Daikin, as a diversified international manufacturing company and a global leader in air conditioning, has a strong leadership character and a solid financial capacity. AAF is now following Daikin’s methodology to plan and do business with a clear strategy to grow in the coming years.

As a matter of fact, Daikin drafts every five years a unique strategic management plan, implementing an annual rolling follow-up system. We set targets focusing on our visions and management innovations, such as structural reforms fusing elements from various elements such as short-term return and long-term growth, collaborations with Group companies in Japan and abroad, partnerships with non-Group companies, cross-departmental unity, etc.

Another strength of Daikin is our People-Centred Management (PCM), a line of thinking that draws out the enthusiasm and understanding of the people who work in an organisation to strengthen and raise the capabilities of the organisation by having all members further refine their own individuality, achieve growth, and fully demonstrate their potential. Daikin has achieved the growth it enjoys today by believing in the infinite potential of people as stated in our group philosophy: “The Cumulative Growth of All Group Members Serves as the Foundation for the Group’s Development.”

On the other hand, and also related to our daily activities, we have strengthened our R&D activities. An example of the worked carried out is our new Fabripulse Fusion® bag filter where lean manufacturing has been put in place to drastically reduce delivery time and cost of the equipment.
 
 

World Cement interview with AAF: Part 3

Published on 29/10/2015

Question 3-1:
Many people will think of AAF as a Spanish company. How central is Spain to your operations, and how has the downturn there affected your business?
Answer:
AAF International is in fact a global company headquartered in Louisville, KY USA. As explained above, within the Power and Industrial division the company runs different businesses. In our case the air pollution control business integrates both the Environmental Product (EP) division and the Environmental Systems (ES) division.

AAF Spain has been appointed by the company as the ES division Centre of Excellence, being the global ES business managed from Vitoria in Spain. As the Centre of Excellence we do define our business strategic plan and establish the standards to work with.

Our responsibility is to manage and control the global business coordinating the work of our teams in the US, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Malaysia and China. We do work as a single global team and we do support to each other based on the help each office may need to develop the business. This support refers to applications expertise, training, engineering services coordination, fabrication capabilities (the recently opened workshop in China, for instance) or commissioning services among others. That is the reason the local economies do not have a particular effect on our business. It is in fact the global economy. As a case in point, our latest projects have been located in Saudi Arabia and Mozambique.
 
Quesiton 3-2:
AAF traces its origins back to 1921. What does the future hold for the company?
Answer:
We are optimistic thinking of our future. In fact we are finalising our Fusion 20 plan stating the bases for where we want to see ourselves in 2020 and we have foreseen a very aggressive growth that will include an important increase of our headcount. We are redefining our value chain and process map chasing the maximum level of standardisation possible.
Currently AAF is launching a new brand structure and new products to support our growth.

REDFiltration™ is our new Environmental Products brand. For our aftermarket business, we are launching REDClean™ Media and REDClean™ Technology, RED standing for Reliable Efficient and Durable.

On the other hand, our new painting cabinet facilities and new assembly-line robot are a good example of AAF’s continuous investments, crucial for our business development.

We will strive every day to become the foremost supplier of clean air solutions for people, processes, and the environment, offering solutions that feature minimum environmental impact and the most effective total cost of design and operation.