Grammar planning to set up a new Research Centre in India

Grammar planning to set up a new Research Centre in India

As one of the leading automotive interior specialists, the Grammer Group is known for its innovative and high-quality products.

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The basis for this are the global research and development (R&D) activities that it has steadily expanded over the last few years under the global Grammer strategy.

With these highly efficient global R&D structures, the Grammer Group is able to compete with its peers in key markets in Europe, Asia and North America and to additionally reinforce its market position with innovative products and technologies.

Grammer is now completing a further important milestone in its R&D strategy. Looking forward, external support services for development projects are to be pooled at a single site and allocated across a small number of specialised development service providers.

For this purpose, Grammer will be establishing a new R&D facility in India under a joint venture forged with an experienced local partner. Based in the city of Pune in western India, where many of Grammer's customers are located, the new joint technology centre will be handling specialised R&D tasks.

The new joint technology centre will be particularly responsible for R&D activities which are currently being primarily executed by external service providers. The contract for the joint venture is expected to be signed in the third quarter of 2018.

Grammer's new partner, AllyGrow Technologies, is one of the leading development service providers in the automotive, engineering and aerospace segments. With six facilities around the world, it has some 300 engineers who have been active in India for many years.

"The optimum deployment of R&D resources is of crucial importance for Grammer's continued successful growth so that the numerous new projects and product innovations can be taken to market swiftly and efficiently. With the establishment of our joint venture in India, we will continue to optimise our development processes under the R&D strategy and substantially improve the efficiency of our global R&D structures," said Hartmut Müller, Chief Executive Officer of Grammer AG.

Continental breaks ground in Hanover

Continental breaks ground in Hanover

Continental is beginning the construction of its new headquarters in Hanover.

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The first development phase for the building complex is to be completed by the end of 2020 and to provide space for 1,250 employees.

According to the plans, later expansion to 1,600 workplaces is an option. Relocation of the employees should be completed by 2021, in time for the company's 150th anniversary.

"Continental has been enjoying rapid, profitable growth for many years. This is reflected in our growing workforce around the world. In recent years, the corporate headquarters has become too small for the nearly 900 employees. Now we are creating the necessary space in a modern headquarters that will be a credit to our birthplace, Hanover," commented Continental's CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart on the occasion of the ground-breaking ceremony.

He added: "We are building a creative Continental campus. It will connect people and promote personal dialog between them. They will find areas where they can retreat to concentrate in peace and quiet. At the same time, we are setting up open areas that encourage creative sharing of ideas and knowledge."

The new Continental campus will consist of a total of eight buildings, which will be connected to each other by four bridges. The longest of these, with a span of 71 meters, will extend over Hans-Böckler-Allee. In combination with the buildings, it will form the landmark at the eastern entrance to the state capital city of Hanover near the Pferdeturm.

"The new headquarters of our long-standing company is a clearly visible commitment to its roots in Hanover. We are pleased with the generous support for our project we have received from Lower Saxony's capital city and our reinvigorated partnership that will extend far into the future," declared Degenhart.

"In the course of the company's history that stretches back over almost 150 years, Continental has shaped the city of Hanover. Now, with the new headquarters, a new foundation is being laid that strengthens this common bond. The new structural accent is a perfect match for our cosmopolitan city with its architecture and endorses Hanover as a business location," said Mayor Schostok.

The transportation infrastructure of the new headquarters will take the future of mobility into account. Expressways and highways will provide direct connections to long-distance transportation. An urban rail station right in front of the building will offer links to local and long-distance public transportation.

The parking areas will have charging stations for electric vehicles. "With our new headquarters, we want to demonstrate in a tangible way that we are building bridges to the people inside as well as outside and to the future of mobility. And, as a leading technology company, we have a pioneering and significant role in shaping that mobility," said Degenhart.

MAHLE opens Real Drive Emissions test facility in Northampton, UK

MAHLE opens Real Drive Emissions test facility in Northampton, UK

The state-of-the-art £8.3m vehicle development and testing facility has been constructed by MAHLE Powertrain at its Northampton site.

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The centre, which benefited from a £2.1 million ($2.75 million) investment from SEMLEP's Local Growth Fund, will allow manufacturers to develop and test their vehicles on a new 4WD chassis dyno while being subjected to a wide range of altitude and climatic conditions.

The auto industry must ensure that all new vehicles comply with RDE regulations coming into force in September 2019. The new rules dictate that all vehicles certified for sale in the UK must achieve compliance under 'real-world' driving conditions. This means testing the vehicle under a wide range of conditions, including driving at high and low altitudes, varying temperatures, with and without payloads and on all road types.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive said: "SMMT is delighted to see MAHLE Powertrain open the UK's first dedicated RDE test facility. Together with the WLTP lab test, RDE is part of the toughest emissions testing regime in the world. It provides clear evidence that the automotive industry is delivering on its commitment to cleaning up our air while providing motorists with more realistic emissions and fuel consumption information."

Business & Industry Minister Richard Harrington said: "Technology is changing the way people, goods and services move around the country, and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are ensuring the UK remains the home of the latest innovations in transport. MAHLE Powertrain's Real Drive Emissions test centre is the first of its kind in the UK and with its dedicated workforce, will ensure the automotive industry champions clean and sustainable growth."

During the official opening event, visitors received a tour around the facility including the centre's climatic and hypobaric test chamber, installed to deliver highly accurate and repeatable emissions results and data.

Simon Reader, engineering director at MAHLE Powertrain, stated: "Our new facility puts MAHLE Powertrain at the forefront of real driving emissions development and, for UK-based manufacturers, it means that vehicles can be thoroughly tested to the highest standards without leaving the country. This will shorten lead times and costs, helping the UK to retain its reputation for automotive engineering excellence."

Novelis to acquire downstream aluminium producer Aleris

Novelis to acquire downstream aluminium producer Aleris

Novelis Inc., announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Aleris Corporation, a global supplier of rolled aluminium products, for approximately $2.6 billion including the assumption of debt.

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For Novelis, Aleris, and their customers, the proposed acquisition will deliver a number of significant benefits by establishing a more diverse product portfolio, including aerospace, beverage can, automotive, building and construction, commercial transportation and specialty products. This move will integrate complementary assets in Asia to include recycling, casting, rolling and finishing capabilities and allowing Novelis to more efficiently serve the growing Asia market.

The acquisition helps Novelis broaden its automotive business to meet growing demand and diversifying its global footprint and customer base as also strengthen the ability of the company to compete against steel by gaining a greater platform for production, innovation and service.

"Acquiring Aleris is the right opportunity at the right time as they are set for transformational growth," said Steve Fisher, President and CEO, Novelis Inc. "The significant investments they've made in the high-demand, high-value aerospace and automotive segments have resulted in favorable long-term, global contracts. These investments, coupled with a diverse and talented workforce, will add tremendous value to our organisation and allow us to deliver the highest quality innovative aluminium solutions to our customers."

As part of the acquisition, Novelis will acquire Aleris' 13 manufacturing facilities across North America, Asia and Europe. Aleris' new automotive finishing lines in Lewisport, Kentucky, of which a significant amount of its 200kt capacity is already under contract, along with 100kt of auto capacity in Duffel, Belgium, will allow Novelis to further diversify its global footprint and customer base. In addition, Aleris' Zhenjiang facility is strategically located near Novelis' existing Changzhou plant, adding value through logistical efficiencies, closed-loop recycling, and providing greater opportunity for customer collaboration.

"With the support of our private equity owners, our Aleris team has done an excellent job of implementing our company's strategic transformation over the past several years. By enhancing our capabilities to serve our customers in high-value industries, we have significantly increased the value of the company," Sean Stack, Aleris chairman and CEO said. "I am confident that our assets and people will continue to thrive and contribute to Novelis' future success."

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals and is expected to close in 9-15 months. Until the closing, the companies will continue to operate as separate entities. Following close, the two companies will integrate Aleris into Novelis, which will remain headquartered in Atlanta.

The combined company will have pro forma revenues of approximately $15 billion and will operate 37 facilities, across 11 countries, with an employee base of approximately 16,500.

Continental Automotive Group holds Supplier Day 2018

Continental Automotive Group holds Supplier Day 2018

The Automotive Group of Continental has awarded prizes to its Suppliers of the Year for 2017.

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The awards ceremony took place during Supplier Day 2018, attended by 550 guests from across the world at the Estrel Congress Centre, Berlin.

The fact that a robot was in charge of handing out the cocktails at the evening's prize gala was perfectly in keeping with the forward-looking approach of the supplier day. The slogan for the event, "Supplier of Choice 2030", had been deliberately chosen to reflect a dual objective. Continental aims to strengthen and build on its position as the supplier of choice for automobile manufacturers. At the same time, challenges to be overcome collaboratively in the future were emphasised.

Kurt Lehmann, Corporate Technology Officer at Continental AG, is in charge of the corporation's long-term technology strategy. In his "Vision 2030" presentation, he explained how the automotive industry's underlying conditions are changing at present and how they will change in the future, and what challenges and opportunities will result from this.

Global developments such as increasing urbanisation or the growing percentage of the population represented by elderly people are changing the requirements that mobility solutions need to meet. At the same time, a worldwide change in user behaviour is apparent, according to Lehmann.

"People will increasingly rely on the support of artificial intelligence in personal matters. Secure connectivity is becoming ever more important, not just for people but also for vehicles. This may also necessitate a paradigm shift. The car is losing its position as a status symbol, because time is the new status symbol." Continental sees itself as a trendsetter on the road to what is known as Society 5.0, which places human beings at the centre of all technological progress.

With its three automotive divisions, Chassis & Safety, Powertrain and Interior, Continental covers the entire range of future mobility solutions. The company aims to achieve leading market positions in automated driving, information management, drive electrification and mobility services by 2030, according to Lehmann.

Experts from the three divisions then explained to the suppliers which specific new platforms and products Continental is working on. In addition, a separate event was held to deal with the interests of the Production Equipment & Engineering Services (PEES) division, which also awarded a special "Innovation Award" this year.

Günter Fella, Head of Purchasing at Continental Automotive, said, "In this challenging market, we need to raise the question of what we need to do in order to be the 'Supplier of Choice' in 2030 as well. This affects both what we offer our customers as well as our relationship with our suppliers. Speed will be a crucial factor. We all need to learn to act more quickly and more flexibly while also improving our quality standards and financial conditions."

"Digitalisation can help us with this by enabling data to be exchanged even more quickly and in even greater detail. We are operating in a highly volatile market with new market players, so we need to identify the areas of risks in our business environment and work quickly to define countermeasures before the risks occur," continued Fella.

At its roughly 100 production sites worldwide, Continental's Automotive divisions processed around 140 billion components in 2017. These were manufactured by more than 3,500 series suppliers. Continental Automotive performs a comprehensive, systematic evaluation of its strategic suppliers every year.

The central criteria here are quality, technology, supply, costs and purchasing conditions. Outstanding achievements have been rewarded with the Supplier of the Year awards since 2008. This year, the prizes went to the following companies:

  • Electronics: Nippon Chemi-Con (Capacitors), Vishay (Discretes)
  • Electromechanics: Electrical Components International (Cables), WUS Printed Circuit (PCB)
  • Mechanics & Raw Material: Alupress (Casting), Grupo Cropu (Forgings)
  • Plastic and Rubber: ept – electronic precision technology (Connectors), Molex (Plastic-Mechatronics & Connectors)
  • Investment and Engineering: Suzhou Harmontronics Automation Technology (Assembly Production for Electronic Manufacturing), Mahr (Measurement Equipment for Mechanical Quantities), Larsen & Toubro (Engineering Services – Engineering Software/Hardware)
  • Chassis & Safety division-specific solutions: ITT Friction Technologies (Brake Pads)
  • Interior division-specific solutions: Sakaiya (Dials), Shinko Nameplate (Decorative Plastics)
  • Powertrain division-specific solutions: HES Präzisionsteile Hermann Erkert (Machined Components).

The special prize known as the "Quality Award" has been awarded since 2011 in recognition of extraordinary achievements in the field of quality enhancement. This year, the award went to Shinko Nameplate. Fuji Machine Manufacturing received the Innovation Award in the Investment and Engineering category.

Dana takes over the Drive Systems business of Oerlikon Group

Dana takes over the Drive Systems business of Oerlikon Group

Dana Incorporated announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase the Drive Systems segment of the Oerlikon Group, a global manufacturer of high-precision gears; planetary hub drives for wheeled and tracked vehicles; and products, controls, and software that support vehicle electrification across the mobility industry.

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Under the terms of the agreement, Dana will acquire Oerlikon's Drive Systems business for CHF600 million ($600 million). Committed financing has been arranged to complete the transaction, which will be immediately accretive to earnings upon closing. Subject to customary regulatory approvals, the acquisition is expected to close in late 2018 or the first quarter of 2019.

The transaction is expected to complement and extend Dana's current technology portfolio, especially with respect to high-precision helical gears for the light- and commercial-vehicle markets and planetary hub drives for wheeled and tracked vehicles in the off-highway market.

The acquisition will also provide Dana with products, controls, and software that support vehicle electrification in each of Dana's end markets – light vehicle, commercial vehicle, and off-highway as well as optimise Dana's global manufacturing presence to be closer to customers in key growth markets such as China and India, as well as the United States. This will also add five research and development facilities to Dana's extensive network of technology centres.

Jim Kamsickas, president and chief executive officer of Dana said, "A great fit culturally, this investment will deliver significant long-term value by accelerating our commitment to vehicle electrification and strengthening the technology portfolio for each of our end markets while further expanding and balancing the manufacturing presence of our off-highway business in key geographical markets."

Oerlikon Drive Systems employs approximately 5,900 people and operates 10 manufacturing and engineering facilities in China, India, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with two additional facilities under construction in China.

The business serves a global roster of original-equipment manufacturers. Selected customers include AGCO, Ashok Leyland, Aston Martin, BMW, Caterpillar, CNH, Daimler, John Deere, Ferrari, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, MAN, McLaren, Oshkosh, SANY, Scania, Terex, Volkswagen, and AB Volvo.

Oerlikon Drive Systems is composed of two global brands, Oerlikon Graziano and Oerlikon Fairfield, which offer engineering and manufacturing expertise in the development of gear-driven solutions for mobile vehicles and industrial equipment.

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as financial advisor to Dana for this transaction. Citi provided committed financing to Dana for the transaction. Maven Global provided additional advisory services.

Teijin Frontier acquires German automotive interior supplier J

Teijin Frontier acquires German automotive interior supplier J

Teijin Frontier Co. Ltd., Teijin Group’s fiber and products converting company, announced that it had agreed to acquire J.H. Ziegler GmbH (Ziegler), a supplier of automotive interior materials in Germany, at a cost of approximately €125 million ($146.25 million). Ziegler will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Teijin Frontier.

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The acquisition of Ziegler will be made by means of cash and newly-raised funding, and is scheduled to be completed in August 2018 after confirmation that all customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval, have been met.

Since its establishment in 1864, Ziegler has innovated advanced technologies in the fields of nonwoven seat wadding materials and sound-absorbing composite solutions. Ziegler's technologies fulfil the most stringent requirements in terms of the appearance, haptic feedback and usability of seat surface materials.

Headquartered in Achern-Oberachern, Germany, Ziegler provides advanced nonwoven lining structures, including materials with superior ventilation capabilities that help prevent wrinkling and keep luxurious appearance of genuine leather materials. The company operates five facilities globally, including three in Germany and one each in Hungary and China, and employs approximately 400 staff. It posted consolidated sales of over €69 million ($80.73 million) in the fiscal year ending December 31, 2017.

Through the acquisition of Ziegler, Teijin Frontier will improve its automotive interior materials' production and sales capabilities in Europe, thereby enhancing its presence in the global automotive market and allowing it to increase its enterprise value.

To drive the sales of Ziegler products that can meet the growing demand for low-noise electric vehicles (EV) driving environments, Teijin Frontier plans to optimise Ziegler's design and production structures. By utilising its R&D and production functions of filaments and staple fibers, Teijin Frontier will develop innovative materials that provide higher sound-absorbing property, using its ultra-fine fibers.

Teijin Frontier will also seek business synergies by leveraging the production and sales facility of Continental Structural Plastics, a North American hub of the Teijin Group's composite business and Ziegler's sales channels in order to develop new businesses related to automotive interiors and exteriors.

Teijin Frontier is strengthening its business in automotive-related field as one of its core businesses to provide a number of trusted high-end solutions for automobiles, including high-performance interior materials such as seat fabrics, car roof linings and sound-absorbing surfaces, as well as rubber reinforcement materials such as tire cord, hose cord, transmission belt cords and airbag base fabrics.

The automotive industry has been radically evolving over recent years with developments such as EV, autonomous cars and car sharing. These developments and the emergence of ever-tighter environmental regulations are driving demand for comfortable and low-noise high-performance automotive indoor environments.

Teijin Frontier is expanding its product and sales capabilities in the field of noise-reducing materials by enhancing these with further sound-absorbing, low-noise and sound-insulating functions, all of which will help to realise more comfortable driving.

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