The company faces market challenges but is positive, introducing new products, looking at raising productivity and having expansions when the markets call for them
Bahrain Aluminium Extrusion Company (Balexco) is upbeat about its new luxury system saying it has received a good response from Kuwait and Qatar as well as the home market.
The Balexco Luxury System is a lift and slide thermal break system with good thermal insulation and considered “top of the line” in the company’s high-value products.
Other systems the company offers include Balexco 60 curtain wall, the 45/45i casement series and the 100 sliding series. About which system fetched the company the most income, general manager Jassem Al Seyadi responded: “We do not split the income based on curtain wall, sliding or casement series. We take all under the Balexco system. Yet, we can still say that our 100/45 series is doing exceptionally well compared to the Balexco curtain wall.”
The company plans to introduce a Unitised Curtain Wall System since currently it has a stick system which caters to a height of about 80 m. The new system will be applicable to a height of about 150 m. Also planned is the installation of thermal break assembly machines.
Balexco’s total capacity is 33,000 tonnes per year and output in 2013 was 20,515 tonnes against 23,212 tonnes for the whole of 2012. The architectural sector accounts for most sales with the industrial segment following. The home market accounts for 25 per cent of sales and another 70 per cent comes from other GCC states leaving 5 per cent as the share of markets outside the GCC region.
Competition is brisk in the aluminium downstream with additional capacities coming. A big increase in the price of premium aluminium by supplier Alba could affect profitability, said Al Seyadi, who also stated that the company faced payment problems, especially from the stock list, and snarls at the Saudi Causeway.
But he is optimistic saying Balexco has a well-established market share, internationally certified quality products and experienced staff.
The company is in the process of revamping its presses. It is positive that after improvements in its facilities are completed it will be able to cater to a wider circle of customers and provide one-stop solutions to their needs.
The company operates four presses that have total capacity of 33,000 tonnes annually and does not have plans to add a fifth press any time soon. “We don’t have space,” said Al Seyadi. “In the near future, maybe in three years, we will add the fifth press in line with market demand. This way we expect to increase capacity by another 8,000 tonnes to take the total to about 40,000 tonnes per year.”
In 2012 Balexco installed an anodising line of capacity 6,000 tonnes, replacing a 4,000 tonnes per year facility. Again, the company has no plans at the moment to raise this capacity as current production is below maximum but says once the fourth tank comes into operation, production will climb to the maximum level. “Good production is dependent upon a product mix with medium and heavy profiles,” observed Al Seyadi. “Once the plant is operational with four tanks and the required manpower to run 24 hours a day and 30 days a month, we shall achieve the planned capacity under ideal conditions.”
Balexco has a resmelting and casting plant of capacity 12,000 tonnes annually. The plan is to revamp the plant and have a separate casting (remelt) operation through a joint venture set up to focus
The company has a 6,000 tonnes per year powder coating line with production close to 400 tonnes per month. It believes it can achieve a higher rate of production provided there is a better product mix with medium and heavy profiles. “Our effort is to continuously increase productivity and production and as for expansion, we will go in for vertical powder coating with a capacity of about 8,000 additional tonnes. That might happen in 2015,” said Al Seyadi.
A fabrication facility running at the plant is limited to special products such as poles for lights and flags, thermal break items, telephone cabins and so on. Balexco does not want to compete with its downstream clients believing it would be a conflict of interest.
A wastewater treatment plant that the company has been constructing is nearing completion.
During 2013 Balexco supplied its products to a 19-storey building in Juffair through fabricator Alutech and a 13-storey building at Seef through Baghdad Aluminium. It was also involved with a 110 storey building in Zinj, the Indian School at West Riffa (both through Baghdad Aluminium), the American University in Kuwait and a 10-storey building in the same city (both through Al Azeema).