Interview with Chris Norch, President, Aero Metals Alliance
Aero Metals Alliance (AMA) provides aluminium, stainless steel, alloy steel, titanium, nickel alloys and supply chain management services to the world’s leading aerospace companies. We talked to the company’s president, Chris Norch, about the work AMA does and the future of metals in aerospace.
How does the AMA system work to bring a global supply chain to the industry?
CN: AMA works to bring a global supply chain to the industry by strategically positioning our service centres geographically to supply required alloys and near-net shaping to our customers for all their metal needs.
How many partners are there in the Alliance and what do they bring that is different?
CN: AMA currently has five separate companies with 10 distinct service centres in the US, UK, France, Germany and India. The companies are predominantly unique from their continental partners by alloy, then mill shapes and finally their near-net shaping capabilities. However, we are currently bolstering all service centres with additional CNC or other finishing equipment on a quarterly basis as our businesses grow.
What is the value of a metals alliance to the OEMs?
CN: The value of a metals alliance to the OEM’s is a comprehensive line card of aviation, aerospace and industrial alloys with value-added processing and the ability to be agile in investing with our partnerships to develop our collective business platforms in a lean fashion supported by superior quality and delivery.
The same value can be recognised by the metals providers as we can build strategic partnerships to move more of their metal into more markets by adding value rather than simply stocking and distributing standard metals at eroding market margins.
We hear a lot about the development of composites and 3D printing – what is the future for metals in aerospace?
CN: The future of metals in aerospace will be affected by composites and 3D printing. The engineering introduction of these applications will require a reasonable length of time, but we always feel that there will be ample opportunities for the historical application of standard mill metals.
What are the challenges for the industry?
CN: The challenges we see for the industry are an ageing workforce that have historically valued the relationships and contracts needed to support aviation and aerospace programs. A general directive towards continued margin reduction is marring the realisation that our future is in vertically integrating as many steps in the supply chain through a solutions provider such as the companies in Aero Metals Alliance.
Continued capitalisation in automation and reduction of variability allow for progress in such areas as material handling, material optimization, robotic inspection etc will allow for reduction in logistics, chip/scrap collection and a complete ownership of quality through more steps in the supply process. These investments require a reasonable and fair margin but ultimately are a cost savings in the long run to our customers if they recognise the total value of the goods received.
Aero Metals Alliance is proactively investing for the direction stated above and is poised to grow with our industry.