in Vol. 16 - May Issue - Year 2015
Garnet Abrasive Outlook for Europe
MFN had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Andreas Höfner, General Manager for GMA Garnet (Europe) GmbH.
(?) MFN: How many years has GMA Garnet (Europe) GmbH been operating in the market and what are the main applications GMA supplies to?
(!) A.H.: GMA Garnet (Europe) GmbH was founded in 1991 in Hamburg. Garnet abrasive was more or less an unknown abrasive in Europe; nevertheless, many companies were interested to learn more about this alternative product coming from Australia. At the beginning I did not spend so much time in the office, as it was more important to visit customers to organize blasting tests and technical presentations to introduce the various benefits and cost-saving associated with the unique garnet variety that GMA supplies . After a short introduction period, GMA Garnet became well accepted and for over 20 years GMA Garnet (Europe) GmbH has been the market leader of abrasives providing high efficiency natural mineral abrasive for abrasive waterjet cutting and sandblasting applications. Understandably, the first customers were the hardest to change over to GMA Garnet; these days it is much easier to convince a new potential client to switch to GMA Garnet.
Many abrasive blasting applications are supplied with GMA Garnet. In the United Kingdom and in Norway we supply high volumes of our GMA Garnet PremiumBlast grade into offshore installations. Shipyards are using GMA Garnet for new building, conversion and repair jobs. As GMA Garnet is a totally natural and inert mineral abrasive, free of any toxic components, ferrite and heavy metals, it is ideally suited for surface preparation of Stainless Steel, Antimagnetic Steel and Aluminium. GMA Garnet is currently used in the construction and maintenance of chemical plants, nuclear and fossil power stations, for bridges and weir locks and for the maintenance of containers and tanks, tank and rail trucks, as well as for wagons and coaches.
(?) MFN: Can you explain a little bit more about the waterjet industry?
(!) A.H.: Certainly! A high-pressure pump produces pressures of up to 6.000 bar and is the most important part of the waterjet system. The pump pressurizes the water and delivers it continuously so that a cutting head can turn that pressurized water into a supersonic waterjet stream. In the abrasive waterjet, the waterjet stream accelerates GMA Garnet particles and those particles cold cut any industrial material. GMA Garnet is ideally suited for all cutting applications like Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminium, Granite, Marble, Glass etc. After extensive machine tests, all renowned producers of waterjet cutting equipment recommend GMA Garnet to ensure minimal wear and tear of expensive equipment. GMA Garnet is the preferred abrasive for the waterjet cutting industry, ensuring maximum cutting performance and lowest cutting cost.
(?) MFN: Please inform us about your distribution network in Europe?
(!) A.H.: Over the past 23 years GMA Garnet (Europe) GmbH has developed a sophisticated marketing and distribution network of own subsidiary companies and dedicated professional distributors for GMA Garnet, spanning all around Europe. The head office of GMA Europe is in Hamburg. We have sales offices in Frankfurt, Denmark and in the United Kingdom. A highly motivated team with 24 employees is readily available to our customers with the best possible service. Additionally, we have three loose bulk handling facilities in Europe that store around 20.000 MT of different Garnet grain sizes, at any given time. In Moerdijk, around 35 km to the south of Rotterdam we are using 7.500 m² for storing loose bulk material GMA Garnet 80 Mesh and GMA Garnet 30/60 Mesh. To complete our product range, we also stock all other GMA Garnet grades and our reprocessed products coming from Dubai and from Aulla in Italy. In addition to our own production of alluvial Garnet in Australia, we purchase and distribute quantities of other Garnet products to compliment our range and offer the full scope to our clients for every application. To complement our loose bulk stocks in the Netherlands, Belgium and in Italy, we maintain further packaged stocks in strategic locations around Europe.
(?) MFN: What is the range of products available and the most popular product?
(!) A.H.: For waterjet applications, we mainly supply GMA Garnet 80 Mesh. If the customers require a high precision edge, we are able to supply GMA Garnet 120 Mesh. For sandblasting purposes, the preferred product is our GMA Garnet PremiumBlast. This product is the most efficient economical product in term of lowest abrasive consumption, highest production rate per hour, and optimum surface cleanliness according to SA3, whilst providing a surface profile of 40 - 70 micron. Special fine grades of GMA Garnet abrasives are also available for aluminium, turbine blades, fibreglass, and other unique surface preparation applications. Our partner in Italy receives used Garnet to produce a high quality reprocessed Garnet for all waterjet and most abrasive blasting applications, including precision ultrafine grades for high tech uses. The plant in Italy facilitates a significant reduction of disposal waste from the waterjet cutting and sandblast operations in Italy. Since 2000, GMA Garnet (Europe) GmbH has been the exclusive distribution partner of Focusing Tubes from Kennametal in Europe. Our Roctec line of abrasive waterjet nozzles is made from a patented carbide material and proprietary manufacturing process.
(?) MFN: Why do customers prefer GMA Garnet abrasives over other brand of abrasives?
(!) A.H.: Our products provide the highest value for money abrasive solutions. Our team operates in a customer-focused corporate culture and is committed to the environmentally sustainable and socially responsible practice of our business. Our sandblasting customers can attest to the fact that GMA Europe is selling a cost-effective blast cleaning abrasive with low dusting, high productivity, low consumption, superior surface quality and good reprocessing options. The inert nature of GMA Garnet contains absolutely no traces of any heavy metals or toxic components, which means GMA Garnet is totally health- and environment-friendly. The normal consumption of GMA Garnet 30/60 Mesh on new steel or coated respectively rusted steel of less than 500 microns dry film thickness is about 15 kg/m² on structural steel on a one-pass basis. If the used abrasive can be recovered, GMA Garnet can be recycled about 5-10 times, which will reduce the total abrasive consumption. Consumption figures from many European projects show that recycling will reduce the overall abrasive consumption of GMA Garnet Premium Garnet to about 5 kg/m² under normal conditions. GMA Garnet is mined and processed by the world`s largest producer of industrial Garnet situated in Western Australia. It is processed to the highest standard of quality in respect of mineral purity and meets the stringent requirements of ISO 11126-10:2000 for chloride and free silica content. Strict quality control at every step of the mining and processing phases ensures that GMA Garnet is of consistent quality.
(?) MFN: Which customers are using GMA Garnet?
(!) A.H.: We supply GMA Garnet abrasive to many different customers in Europe. Our key markets are Germany, Italy, France, UK and Russia. Customers like Airbus, Volkswagen, Opel and Daimler are using GMA Garnet just like small contractors in the sandblasting field as well as many workshops in the waterjet industry. We maintain contact with top management of each customer, but rely on strong relationships with technicians and blasters in the field. Within walking distance to our office in Hamburg, one of our valued customers cleaned the ornaments and the granite foundation of the renowned Laeiszhalle Concert Hall, using GMA Garnet 80 Mesh.
(?) MFN: How does GMA Europe stay relevant and competitive in maintain ing its position as the market leader for garnet abrasive in Europe?
(!) A.H.: During recent years, GMA Europe has built up the best possible customer-vendor relationship. GMA Europe has more than 2,000 satisfied customers, for many of which we have developed a system of returning used Garnet. In many cases, we can offer an unparalleled service to supply new Garnet and take back their used abrasive on the same truck.
(?) MFN: What is GMA Europe's market outlook for 2015 and are there any new products being developed in the pipeline!
(!) A.H.: We expect a steady increase for 2015 because the waterjet machine producers will sell many new machines where GMA Europe will benefit.
Right now, we are in the middle of a testing period for a new long-life orifice product coming from the USA for the waterjet industry.
Furthermore, we have the intention to increase the sales volume of GMA Garnet Fine and Super Fine Abrasive for precision applications. The combination of high mineral purity, total grain angularity and consistent sizing ensures high performance precision cutting, cleaning, etching and polishing. We use GMA Garnet Fine and Super Fine Abrasive for blasting steam turbines and gas turbine components in power plants. The products can be used for graffiti removal and for the restoration of stone, bricks and timber. GMA Garnet Fine Abrasive was used at the Vatican City for the restoration of the travertine columns and statues. Our products GMA Garnet Fine and Super Fine abrasive clean without damaging the surface whilst producing an extremely smooth and uniform finish. The high specific gravity and toughness of GMA Garnet provides effective cleaning at relatively low air pressure and with minimal particle breakdown.
MFN would like to thank Andreas Höfner for the interview!