Futaba investing in press hardening from AP&T
Last year, AP&T delivered its first complete production line for press hardening in Japan. The company has now sold two more press hardening lines, this time to Futaba Industrial Co. Ltd., which is one of Japan's largest suppliers of car body parts to the automotive industry.
"The transaction comprises process forming, integration, overall system control, presses, automation and tools. The first production line was installed at the end of May 2014, and an additional line will be built a few months later at Futaba Industrial Co. Ltd's facility in Okazaki, which is located 250 km southwest of Tokyo,” says Mats Lindman, technical sales manager at AP&T in Sweden.
Both press hardening lines will be used to manufacture car body parts such as pillars and roof rails for several of the major Japanese passenger car brands. As is commonly the case, the various car manufacturers' desire to reduce weight and emissions while maintaining or improving safety constitutes the underlying factor for Futaba Industrial Co. Ltd's decision to invest in press hardening. Futaba is thus the first subcontractor in Japan to make a large-scale investment in the technology.
"This is a very important investment in a highly interesting and growing technology that will help us satisfy our customers' need for lighter-weight and stronger products, both now and in the future," says Takahisa Inagaki, senior officer and Chief of Production Engineering Center at Futaba Industrial Co. Ltd.
After visiting AP&T's press hardening seminar in Yokohama in 2011, Futaba Industrial Co. Ltd. contacted AP&T's Japanese subsidiary. The first order was placed in April 2013, and in October of the same year, Futaba decided to order an additional system from AP&T.
"Cooperation has resulted in flexible solutions based on our cutting edge technology that are well adapted to the customer's needs," says Mats Lindman.
Both of the new ODEN presses included in the delivery have 8000 kN (900 US tons) of press force. They are equipped, for example, with AP&T's high speed multi cylinder function, which enables high production speed and short cycle times. The automation equipment consists of AP&T's SpeedFeeders for feeding and unloading. The furnaces and automation for handling the finished parts are Japanese brands.
"We have high expectations on the equipment's performance and quality, but our cooperation is about so much more than that. AP&T is an innovative knowledge company with a comprehensive view of press hardening technology and its possibilities. As a result, I hope for a long-term partnership, including a mutual exchange of knowledge and experience that benefits both parties – in terms of other types of sheet metal forming as well," says Takahisa Inagaki.
Futaba Industrial Co. Ltd. manufactures, amongst other things, body parts and exhaust systems for passenger cars. The company is one of Japan's leaders in the industry, and it supplies several major Japanese car manufacturers. Futaba Industrial Co. Ltd. also has manufacturing in North America, Europe, China and Southeast Asia.