For the past five decades, Swarco has been one of the major producers of such glass microspheres with diameters of 0.1 to 1.8 mm. Production facilities are located in the USA, Germany, and in Austria, where the late Manfred Swarovski laid the foundations of Swarco in 1969 by building a glass bead factory in Amstetten, Austria. Today, Swarco’s production capacities in road marking materials are big enough to apply a striping that stretches 25 times around the globe, covering more than a million kilometres.
The latest Swarco production facility has now begun operation. Two years of planning preceded the groundbreaking ceremony in May 2019 at the Neufurth Business Park in the Amstetten district. Now, another three years later, the Swarco Global Glass Beads Technology Centre is up and running. 90 employees ensure market-leading products for road safety and industrial applications in the world's most modern and sustainable glass bead factory. On 3 June, some 250 guests from the workforce, politics, business and the local area celebrated the official opening with a summer party.
Swarco’s's CEO Michael Schuch explained in his speech that the founding site on Industriestrasse in Amstetten was bursting at the seams in terms of capacity after more than five decades of successful operations. "So we decided to remain loyal to the Amstetten district and build anew on a greenfield site in Neufurth. We have made the largest single investment in our company's history and, with technological innovations and process optimisations, have thus built what is arguably the most modern and sustainable glass bead factory in the world. Our business partners in 80 countries on all continents will benefit from this in terms of product quality, product range diversification, and service," said Schuch, who expressed special thanks to the staff for their enormous efforts in recent months.
In addition to innovative production facilities for micro glass beads, the new site also houses the "Centre of Competence" of the Road Marking Systems Division, with modern laboratories as well as pilot and test facilities. With new technologies and an increased level of automation, Swarco is taking another step towards increasing customer satisfaction.
Peter Tomazic, Vice President Production and R&D of Swarco’s Road Marking Systems Division, emphasises that the company has pushed the issue of sustainability from planning to construction and operation. "Energy efficiency and pollution reduction are at the heart of the production and development work," Tomazic said. "All electrical processes run on electricity from Austrian hydropower and other sustainable energy sources. We use the waste heat from the production processes as heating energy for the building. The dust particles from the filter systems are recycled directly in the factory. We also pay great attention to minimising the ecological footprint of all future Swarco products in the RMS Division," Tomazic underlined.
In addition to the use of green energies and technologies, the focus is also on research and development. “When we were building the Swarco Global Glass Beads Technology Centre and setting up the machinery and equipment, we were able to implement all the developments of recent years. We managed to automate many process steps, and control and monitor them in a better way,” Peter Tomazic explains. This enhances the quality of the products, increases the availability of machinery and equipment, and improves product availability for customers. The Centre of Competence – Swarco Road Marking Systems’ globally connected R&D department – continuously works to optimise products and production processes, making them even more sustainable and preparing them optimally for challenges of the future, such as automated driving.
During the opening ceremony, the company demonstrated practical corporate social responsibility and presented the Lower Austrian nature conservation organisation Lanius with a donation of money and, above all, time for volunteer work in the interest of environmental protection. “By building the new factory on a greenfield site, we were aware that we would be taking away something from nature. So now it is time to give something back to nature. And this we do by supporting local initiatives that work to preserve our precious environment,” Tomazic added.
The new factory and the administration building offer all the amenities of an attractive working environment. Employees now have access to state-of-the-art offices and conference rooms, a showroom in the entrance area, an elegant canteen, large information screens throughout the building, and even a gym for their physical fitness.
Manfred Swarovski would be proud to see his life’s work develop in such an impressive way in Lower Austria’s Mostviertel where the Swarco story began. During the opening ceremony, Elisabeth Swarovski, Swarco supervisory board member and widow of the company founder, unveiled a bronze plaque in front of the main building in memory of her husband, a globally recognised pioneer and advocate for more safety on the roads.
Content produced in association with Swarco