Interview: 3M's Amr Hamza (automobile & aerospace)
By: Ruchi Shroff
Amr Hamza is market development manager for the automobile and aerospace division at 3M.
What is 3M doing for the Middle East market and what are some of your specific products available here?
There is not a lot of manufacturing that happens in the Middle East aviation industry. A lot of the business is focused on maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) work for the industry. So our major role in the market here is to supply all the key MRO consumers with the products they need. So while we don’t supply the paint, for example, for the MRO companies, we supply everything else they will need to work on the paint, or repair or patch up the paint job after it is done. We supply all the key consumables an airline will use for service protection or service repair both on the interior and exterior of an airplane. Specifically, we supply protective products and structural adhesives for the aviation industry.
We also do some work for the niche industries within the aviation sector like body installations for helicopters.
What airlines do you work with in the region?
We work with all the major carriers and operators in the region, from Emirates Airline to Etihad Airways and Air Arabia. Our products fall within the technical manual for Airbus and Boeing and we package a lot of manuals for these two manufacturers and others as well. For those we do not supply the manuals for, we make sure to communicate our own catalogues and to ensure that they know about our products. The key thing is to work with the engineering side of the business — the people actually working in the hangars with the planes. We help them perform the maintenance work on planes faster and more efficiently, to have less opportunities of re-doing the work, and to be perfectly compliant with the regulations posted by the authorities.
Besides commercial aviation operators, we also perform similar work and provide relevant products to military bases in the region, as well as the UAE government. We help them perform their maintenance and repair operations more quickly and efficiently.
Are the products for the civil and military sectors vastly different?
It is the same range of products for both sectors to a degree. However, there is usually more work in the military segment because there is a lot more repair work as planes are more heavily used in that sector.
Any products that you have developed particularly for the region?
Aerospace is more a global-local market and so all of our products have a global appeal. They all have to go through the chief airline suppliers, Airbus and Boeing before making it to the final customers. Our polyurethane protective tapes are made of tough thermoplastic polyurethane, designed for both indoor and outdoor use. They are popular because they are easy to apply and impact-resistant, and they offer effective protection against abrasion, corrosion, puncture and UV light, which is very important during the harsh summers in the Middle East. Plus, we developed our structural adhesives and films based on aerospace experience in the 1950s, which found that the structural strength of this class of adhesive is equal to welding. Our aerospace adhesive products include decorative laminating adhesive, low density syntactic films, structural paste adhesives, low density void-filling potting compounds and load bearing formulation primers.
All of these products are also popular on the global level as well because aviation is a global industry with similar needs arising everywhere. Also, 3M focuses on a variety of markets.