New control system from AP&T increased Steertec's production capacity
"A fantastic improvement. With the new control systems from AP&T, production capacity in our existing press line has increased significantly. We were also able shorten cycle times through simplified programming." These are the words of a very satisfied Thomas Häfner, who is the factory manager at Steertec in Raufoss, Norway.
Upgrading old presses and production lines with new electricity and electronics is a growing business segment for AP&T. A modern control system can do wonders for an old press.
"A rebuild is generally a very cost-efficient way to immensely improve reliability and productivity. Regardless of the press' make, we can ensure the customer obtains a future proofed solution," says Roger Frölander, who is a rebuild salesperson at AP&T Press Systems.
Aluminum parts for the automotive industry
Steertec in Raufoss, Norway is one of the customers that recently modernized its production equipment with help from AP&T. The company specializes in the manufacture of cold formed aluminum parts for passenger cars, or more specifically parts for the steering system. Some of Steertec's customers include German luxury car brands such as BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Audi.
"Working with some of the world's best car brands means we have to satisfy very high demands on quality and delivery precision. It is for this reason we have been working so hard and purposefully to optimize our operations in Raufoss, both technically and financially," says Thomas Häfner.
New control system for old presses
In 2010, Steertec moved to entirely new facilities that had been specifically built on the basis of production to achieve the most effective flow possible. (The move was achieved without experiencing any downtime at all!) The ten presses found among the machinery at the time worked well, but the old control systems from the 1980s were difficult to program and frequently caused downtime. After initial discussions with AP&T, which had previously supplied automation equipment to Steertec, the company decided in 2012 to upgrade and rebuild five old hydraulic presses in the line: one 400 ton, one 200 ton and three 100 ton presses. At the same time, Steertec ordered an entirely new and customized AP&T press. All of the new equipment was installed and fully operational by summer 2013.
"The new equipment has entailed unprecedented improvement. We have obtained a stable and reliable process, at the same time that cycle times have been shortened. The press line's production capacity has significantly increased," says Thomas Häfner.
If the old control systems were difficult to manage and understand, the new ones are the polar opposite. AP&T's control systems are designed to be user friendly, and operators can now take care of programming themselves after attending a short course. Improved knowledge and greater responsibility also reap greater commitment among employees, which is one of Steertec's most important factors of success.
Customized press and individual control
AP&T was faced with a tough challenge when Steertec, at the same time, decided to add a new press to its machinery for the first time in over 20 years. An extraordinary solution was required to satisfy the requirements for manufacturing precision.
"The result was a customized press with a separate pump for each of the seven cylinder functions/axes. The individual control allows several operations to be performed at the same time completely independently of each other and without impacting each other, which is entirely decisive in this unique process," says Roger Frölander.
The new press with capacity for one million parts per year meets all expectations.
"The machine is absolutely first class," says an obviously proud Thomas Häfner.
The transaction with AP&T also includes a contract for annual maintenance of the new press.
"We signed a maintenance contract with AP&T since it is so crucial that production function without disruption. We want long-term cooperation based on trust and professionalism. Thus far AP&T has delivered everything promised in all aspects, which feels very positive for the future," says Thomas Häfner.
Brief information about Steertec
- Specialized supplier of cold formed aluminum parts for the car industry. Manufactures parts for steering wheel control.
- Produces 40-60 items in a highly automated manufacturing process.
- The company is located in Raufoss, Norway and has approximately 45 employees.
- Part of the Willi Elbe Group, which has its headquarters in Germany.
- Recently invested in new equipment from AP&T: New control systems for five existing presses (AP&T LOGOS) and an entirely new customized press from AP&T.