IAG - the specialist in braking manoeuvres
An interview with Ing. Olaf Pokorny and the German Chamber of Commerce
Text by Reinhard Ebner for “Aspekte”, the magazine issued by the German Chamber of Commerce
Machine manufacturer IAG is a veritable specialist in braking manoeuvres. The roads of Europe are filled with countless cars with brake linings produced on high-precision IAG machinery. Since its foundation in 1986, the company itself has accelerated from zero to a hundred. From an emergency solution following the failure of an employer, a global market leader has emerged. There are few who understand better than Olaf Pokorny that a crisis can represent an opportunity for those who know how to make the most of it, “In 1986, my employer at the time, a mechanical engineering company, went bankrupt. In the wake of this, two of my colleagues and I founded our own company.”
The beginning phase was anything but easy. “In order to put up the initial capital, we had to take on debt”, Pokorny remembers. “The first few years involved a lot of persuasion in order to establish a customer base.”
Today, no-one needs persuading any more. A good 30 years on, IAG Industrie Automatisierungsgesellschaft from Weikersdorf near Wiener Neustadt is a global market leader in fully automatic presses for the friction lining industry. Car owners in Europe are highly likely to be driving a vehicle with brake linings manufactured using IAG machinery. The company’s market share in Europe is around 60 percent, while it is approximately one third on a global level. Pokorny says, “There’s nowhere on earth that our machines aren’t used – with the exception of the South Pole!” The export rate is a solid 95 percent. Today, Pokorny splits the company shares equally with joint founder and co-manager Ernst Brunner. And the company, which has around 150 employees, will remain a family-run company in the future. The next generation is already actively involved in the business.
Be it BMW or Porsche
Despite successive expansions to the field of activity, fully automatic presses for brake linings continue to constitute a core competence of the Weikersdorf group. Be it Mercedes, VW, Porsche or BMW – all the big car brands or rather their brake manufacturers rely on IAG quality. The specific friction material mix is a trade secret of the brake industry. It is imperative that the fully automatic presses meet the highest standards of quality assurance. Important aspects for customers are the uniformity of the final product, the density and the precise layering of the pressed material. “We are constantly working on improvements and new systems in order to maintain our innovative edge and make driving safer”, Pokorny explains. The qualified engineer is proud of the company’s own patented procedures, such as a press yoke that can be pivoted out to insert the friction mix into the mould with unparalleled precision.
“There are very few who can do that!”
The know-how regarding fully automatic presses and the consistent orientation towards individual customer needs also comes in handy for IAG in another of its fields of activity: special-purpose machinery. Pokorny explains, “We produce customised equipment for highly complex applications. There are very few mechanical engineering companies who are capable of producing such equipment.” One major order that presented the experts at IAG with particular challenges was a production line for steel supports in the formwork sector, which was carried out for Umdasch. For Tyrolia, in turn, an assembly machine was constructed to install, inspect and preset a ski binding in just four seconds. The IAG boss is very happy with the business division of snowmaking technology. IAG develops and markets snow guns for all temperature ranges – and may soon also be using this technology to ensure greater safety in aviation. “We are part of a joint consortium with Airbus and research institutes working on developing test procedures for aircraft engines. The issue being addressed is operational safety under extreme weather conditions with ice and snow.” For the EU project, which was launched this year and is expected to last four years, IAG has built the prototype for a new kind of snow gun. And snow guns are not too far removed from water atomisers. IAG uses these to bind dust and provide protection from emissions for the German lignite locations of energy company RWE. The fire department, on the other hand, relies on IAG products when it comes to firefighting. Like father, like son: acting on their own initiative, Dieter and Rainer Pokorny developed exhaust gas analysis equipment for the production of engines. This business area is amalgamated in IAG Prüfstandstechnik. “With this, we offer a broad spectrum of products for measuring exhaust gases and for the corresponding test bench environment,” Olaf Pokorny explains.
Uncompromising in quality and contract compliance
So what is the common denominator in all these activities? The managing director vouchers that “in everything we do, we are uncompromising when it comes to quality and contract compliance”.In a highly specialised business segment, the after-sales service is also of the utmost importance. Remote maintenance ensures that rapid support, error detection and software updates are guaranteed at any location throughout the world and without any problems. If necessary, and in the scope of regular on-site checks, IAG provides its very own service personnel. Customer training is provided, as is the necessary spare parts supply. The result: “We only have satisfied, often downright enthusiastic customers”, states Pokorny proudly, discussing his operations and highly skilled employees. “Word gets around about that!” To this day, customer acquisition requires no marketing at all.
Update on interview. As of the end of 2019, IAG Prüfstandstechnik is a separate company owned by the Pokorny family, and is no longer a part of IAG Industrie Automatisierungs GmbH
The history of IAG
In 1986, together with Ernst Brunner and Fritz Breier, Olaf Pokorny founded IAG Industrie Automatisierungsgesellschaft. The young company’s success story began in 1988, with the development of the first friction lining press to manufacture brake linings. Today, Pokorny and Brunner share the management and partnership shares of the company.