Interview of AML Systems

AML Systems in the news - Interview with FSI France Investissement
Jean-Eric Peugeot, AML Systems : “We are a global leader in headlamp levelers for the automotive industry.”

A global market - the automotive industry ; clients – headlamp manufacturers ; innovative technology in headlamp actuators and efficient cost and performance solutions… AML Systems, a spin-off of Valeo, is looking more and more like a French industrial goldmine! We get more information from Jean-Eric Peugeot, Vice Chairman.
After starting his career in the chemicals industry, Jean-Eric Peugeot joined Valeo in 2001, in the lighting division. He was in charge of global business development for six product lines. In 2008, he took over management of sales for the Security Systems division, which covers all products related to vehicle access. But at the time, the lighting market was evolving.
The AML Systems adventure began with the arrival of LED headlamps, a development that generated significant pressure in the small world of headlamp manufacturers, including Valeo. Companies needed to invest heavily in R&D to adapt to the new and more efficient LED lights that were coming onto the market in quick succession, and improve their expertise in the field of electronics in particular, in order to keep pace with technological developments. The lighting business at Valeo thus altered its strategy and redefined its priorities. Previously, headlamp actuators had been mainly manufactured for the purposes of meeting in-house requirements. Being part of the Valeo group, therefore, became a major handicap in terms of marketing to other manufacturers, since these were generally the company’s competitors.
“Valeo thus chose to give the business a chance to develop its activity outside the group. The operation was sold as an LBO, with the support of leading investment fund, Syntegra Capital, and Picardie Investissement, a French regional Strategic Investment Fund (FSI France Investissement). Eric Julien, now Chairman of AML Systems, asked me to get on board,” explains Jean-Eric Peugeot. “On July 1st, 2010, AML Systems was born. Potential clients had already been indentified and employees had extensive experience of the market, hence the company was able to be operational right away. The management strategy and high level of independence provided by Valeo really helped us to effectively manage that transition period.”
In 2009, when it was part of Valeo, the business reported €45M in sales and had a workforce of around 250 employees. In 2013, AML Systems achieved €70M in sales with a workforce of 370 employees. “We are a global leader in actuators for headlamp levelers for the automotive industry,” confirms Jean-Eric Peugeot, who is aware just how much progress the company has made in such a short period of time.
AML Systems manufactures 18 million levelers per year at two different sites. The first is located in France, at Hirson, in the Aisne region. It meets the needs of the European and US markets. The second is located at Wuxi, not far from Shanghai in China, and covers the Asian market.
“Our industrial strategy is clear. Our site in Picardy achieves 87 % of its turnover from exports. So we are not really dependent on the French market. It is true that we are experiencing a little less growth than expected, with a sharp downturn in Europe, but Europe is not representative of the global market ! To give you just an idea of volumes, the annual European market represents 12 million vehicles, the US market is beginning to pick up again and is overtaking Europe, and the Chinese market alone represents 20 million vehicles. This year, in the month of January, the Chinese sold 1.75 million cars. This is practically the same volume that France sells in a whole year.”
AML Systems relies heavily on innovation, developing alongside conventional technologies, more sophisticated products that use cutting edge technologies.
“Our priority right from the beginning of AML Systems was to increase investment in R&D. The new actuators, for example, enable driving with full beam without glare for oncoming traffic or overtaking vehicles. A camera positioned at the front of the car detects any oncoming vehicles and creates a black zone around the driver by distributing the light in other directions. The sides of the roads in particular, remain well lit, which greatly improves safety and comfort for the user.”
 AML-SYSTEMS has an active policy of industrial property protection. The company already has a portfolio of patents dating back to when it was part of Valeo, which it adds to every year with each new innovation.
Jean-Eric Peugeot is confident for the future of AML Systems : “We are recognized as being an expert in the field of actuators. Our solutions are innovative, as well as being cost and performance effective. Future growth is estimated at between 30 % and 40 % over the next three years.”
“Also, our efforts since the spin-off have been focused on our core business. But we are now starting to work on diversifying, making use of our expertise to develop specific products for challenging conditions, manufactured according to our strong values of manufacturability and a LEAN approach.”

Interview by Laurent Marinot