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Metso clocks up 120 years in Mâcon, France

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
MarchApril2018
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Metso 1920s crusher.JPG
This 1920s-era Metso crusher attracted a lot of interest when on display during a recent heritage days event at the Metso site in Mâcon

Metso last year celebrated the 120th birthday of its key European base in Mâcon, central-east France. The site also recently began production of the first model from the Finnish quarrying and mining equipment giant’s revolutionary new MX Crusher Series – launched globally at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 in Las Vegas, USA. Guy Woodford visited Metso France SAS in Mâcon to learn about its rich history and strategic importance to Metso.

A 1920s-era Metso crusher at a recent heritage days event at the Metso site in Mâcon was said to have attracted great interest from attendees, young and old. The vintage model is a perfect example of the rich manufacturing history to be found at Metso’s key European hub in Mâcon, a small city in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, around 70 kilometres north of Lyon. Indeed, the enduring popularity of Metso’s classic crushers and screens is reflected in Metso Mâcon’s inventory of classic model parts, said to be worth around €10 million.

Manufacturing on Metso Mâcon’s current site began in 1867 when local businessman Joseph Bruno opened a wood factory. The site is likely to have been favoured by the ambitious entrepreneur given its easy access to river and rail transport. In 1895 Bruno went into business with his son-in-law, Jean-Marie Bergeaud, launching Bergeaud & Bruno Junior, and opening a foundry, hence the 120 years of industrial machine manufacturing. In 1906 the name changed to Bergeaud & Cie.

After the First World War (1914-18), in 1919 Jean-Marie Bergeaud founded the company Ateliers Bergeaud Mâcon (ABM), which quickly established itself in the quarrying and mining equipment sector. ABM was well placed to benefit from heightened equipment demand in the years following the end of the Second World War (1939-45), with new construction and rebuilding projects taking place all across France. Into the 1950s, and ABM made a big move, purchasing the licence for Symons crushers in 1954. The Bergeaud family business was initially exchanged via stock options to USA-based Rexnord, owner of Nordberg Process Equipment, before Finnish firm Rauma Repola acquired Nordberg’s European assets in 1986, including Nordberg in France and the UK.

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Metso Mâcon engineers were heavily involved in the design of Metso's new revolutionary MX Series cone crushers

The 1990s brought further big and also lasting change to the Bergeaud and Nordberg businesses. At the start of the decade, Nordberg in France was Nordberg Bergeaud and in Tampere, Finland, was known as Nordberg Lokomo, after the Tampere facility’s founding business of building locomotives. The name is still proudly maintained in Metso’s Lokotrak mobile crushers and screens. Further into the 1990s, the Bergeaud and Lokomo names were dropped so all equipment became Nordberg, and in 1999, Rauma Repola and Valmet merged to become Metso.   

Fast-forward to the present day, and the Metso Mâcon manufacturing story is continuing apace. The first of Metso’s revolutionary MX series cone crushers – the MX4 – launched globally last March at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 in Las Vegas, USA, is due to go into production at Mâcon in February 2018. While not releasing exact sales numbers, Metso says that it has received an excellent global market response to the MX4, with sales exceeding original forecasts.

Metso MX crushers are based on the patented Multi-Action crushing technology, which combines the piston and rotating bowl into a single crusher. The new cone crusher provides a giant leap in profitability by cutting operational costs 10% and enabling 10% higher uptime compared to traditional cone crushers. The MX crushers also come with up to 70% wear part utilisation. The MX4 is the first full production model from the series – with Metso Mâcon engineers having been heavily involved in their groundbreaking design. The up to 600tonnes/hour throughput Metso MX4 is due to be followed by the MX3 in autumn 2018 and the MX6 in late 2018, or early 2019.

“We had an open day here in September 2017 and 20 French customers are keen to test MX3 prototypes,” says Grégoire Daviron, Metso France’s sales and services director. “They like the size of the machine, the fact it is for producers looking to produce less than 200 tonnes an hour.”

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NP shaft line during assembly

Employing around 430 people, the Metso Mâcon site is home to Metso’s global centre of crushing excellence. The global centre currently works closely with two technical centres – in Sorocaba, Brazil, and Gurgaon, India. A further five technical centres are due to be opened by Metso in the next couple of years – in Perth, Australia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Beijing, China; Ankara, Turkey; and St Petersburg, Russia. Metso Mâcon is also the main global hub for the 10-unit line-up of Nordberg HP cone crushers. NP Series impact crushers, consisting of four primary and four secondary and tertiary models, are also manufactured in Mâcon, as are feeders and Metso’s Premier, Compact and Classic screen ranges.

Metso’s plant automation and advanced control system technology is also available from Metso Mâcon. This includes Metso IC crusher automation, offering precision and consistency to a crushing operation, and VisioRock, a vision technology for determining rock size distribution, shape and other rock properties online, typically on a conveyor belt. In addition to machine manufacturing is the global excellence hub for complete plant design. Its crushing and screening process experts, who delivered their first complete plants in the early 1930s, have designed hundreds of Metso plants in Mâcon, plants that are operating successfully worldwide in the aggregates and mining industries.

Metso Mâcon’s services offering is extensive, including a variety of Life Cycle Services (LCS) packages for customers. Customers can order genuine spare and wear parts, Trellex screening media and lining, pumps and onsite plant fleet repairs, carried out by one or more of Metso Mâcon’s 17-strong team of service engineers. The site also has an extensive training operation, with Metso equipment range experts delivering regular customer and dealer training workshops.

Metso Mâcon’s manufacturing facility runs on three machining shifts a day and includes one assembly line. Assembly line workers usually work 7am-4pm and a 40-42 hour working week. This is reduced to 30 hours a week in periods of lower machine demand. Each crusher and screen undergoes varied and vigorous testing before being dispatched to its purchasing customer.

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Metso engineers at work at the Mâcon facility

The wide-ranging expertise found at Metso’s Mâcon site is key to the company’s offer to customers across the whole of France. Recent years have seen a notable increase in demand for Metso customer services, including LCS packages. Metso currently has around 200 French customers benefiting from varying levels of LCS packages.

Promisingly, as Grégoire Daviron notes, French aggregates demand has picked up in 2017 – up 4.4% in the past year, according to the latest figures from UNICEM, the French National Union for the Quarrying and Building Materials Industries. 

Sales opportunities for Metso and other quarrying OEMs can also be found in major infrastructure works, including the Grand Paris project. Grand Paris includes hundreds of new kilometres of metro lines to greatly improve transport links between Paris suburbs. Some aggregates producers say this will add an extra 10 million tonnes alone to France’s current 320-325million tonnes/year aggregates demand. Further infrastructure works are linked to France’s hosting of the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

Many people at Metso Mâcon also work on exports of Metso’s product and services range to customers in overseas territories and French-speaking countries. French-speaking countries covered by Metso Mâcon include Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, and the island nations of Madagascar and Mauritius.

Readers of the last issue of Aggregates Business Europe will have learned how sales and service teams based at Metso Mâcon are supporting Famy’s 500,000tonnes/year concrete and aggregates product business at Lancrans quarry, in east-central France, around 40 minutes west of Geneva, Switzerland. It was a convincing example of how the Metso Mâcon hub is setting standards for the sector giant’s global business network.

The early 2018 start for MX crusher production at Metso Mâcon represents another key milestone in the site’s proud history. It won’t be the last.

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