Making bodies to order
"We managed two complete car projects with Honda in 2004 and 2005, including all activities, such tools de-mounting, transport and intermediate stocks" Anders Felling, vice-president and sales and marketing director at EBP i Olofström.
Increasing focus on niche markets is creating opportunities for manufacturers based in the Swedish city of Olofström, where production of car body sheet panels started as early as 1926. In 1991 a separate production unit was opened that focused exclusively on production for the after-market. Today this is an independent company operating as European Body Panels (EBP) within the Hexagon Group.
EBP specializes in manufacturing spare parts for car models after the series production ends. It supplies after-market body panels to companies such as Aston Martin, Volvo, Saab Automobiles, Honda and Audi. “By adapting our manufacturing process and the customer’s original equipment to small volumes EBP can manufacture optimum quantities and thereby reduce our customers’ storage and handling costs,” says the company.
Automotive Industries (AI) spoke to Anders Felling, vice-president and sales and marketing director at EBP i Olofström.
Felling: We can deliver a turn-key solution, including material sourcing, stamping, assembling, ED-coating, packaging and distribution. To realize this we offer project management, which could start up to one year before end-of-production at the manufacturer. We managed two complete car projects with Honda in 2004 and 2005, including all activities, such tools de-mounting, transport, intermediate stocks, etc. One of the vehicle project amounted up to 120 fully loaded trucks in the project. The inter-action with the client is very important, having the flexibility in both management of the project, and production facilities. EBP has invested more than €10-million over the past few years in state-of-the-art equipment to manage several OEM and different technologies. We also had a complete aluminum car project including all closures with Audi plus hoods and tailgates for another vehicle during the last 12 months, where the work in assembly engineering has been very important.
AI: How do you plan to increase business from original equipment manufacturers?
Felling: EBP’s focus is low-series production, after-market and OEM deliveries. Our production technology is set up for up to approximately 40,000 units per year. The development in the industry is an increasing amount of different variant and models on the same chassis, which will give a higher amount of body panels and closures, i.e coupe doors, sports tail-gates, etc. in our segment. We are today delivering to Aston Martin, Jaguar and Volvo Trucks for OEM production.
AI: How successful have you been in getting business from non-European businesses?
Felling: EBP are focusing on customers, which have a production site in Europe, in order to have the inter-action for project management. We have although been investigation US market and in our relation with Honda, had discussions about both Asia and US markets.
AI: Is out-sourcing after-market parts a trend that is growing?
The trend is that OEMs are looking for low-series solutions, as the models are continuously increasing, both for after market and series production. The out-sourcing of after market is increasing since a couple of years, and the trend is now also coming to low series OEM production. EBPs business plan includes continuous growth of more than 10 % per year.
AI: Do you have any plans to offer out-sourcing from other locations apart from Olofstrom?
The A-class panels and closures, i.e. hoods, doors, fenders, etc., will we continue to have delivery responsibility from our site in Olofström, although we have relation with suppliers in both western and eastern Europe for inner panels, structures, reinforcements etc.
The industry is developing rapidly and EBP are taking part in that development. Co-operative ventures and development in Europe, especially Eastern Europe, will probably give new delivery sites for the industry.
AI: Is EBP in the process of tying up with any other OEMs and if so, which ones?
Felling: EBP have in the business plan to expand with a few major clients in Europe, which we are planning to see during 2007 and 2008.