At the cutting edge of die and tool manufacturing
Earlier this year, Swedish company, NovaCast Technologies acquired SwePart Verktyg, Scandinavia’s leading die manufacturer, from the Norwegian Bandak Group in a combined cash and shares bid. The acquisition is expected to help NovaCast push the popularity of its Camito process for the production of stamping dies to the automotive industry globally.
Under the terms of the new deal, die manufacturer SwePart will provide the group with expertise within the whole value chain for the manufacture and sales of stamping dies. NovaCast Technologies was founded in 1981. Its subsidiary, Camito, focuses on the automotive market. Camito’s focus is to offer the automotive industry shorter lead times in what is perhaps the most critical process in the product development phase, namely tool production.
“We were able to observe some of the gains in efficiency that can be achieved with the Camito technology and Sandvik’s machining technology already in the spring of 2008, when our Research and Technology Center in Olofström presented the result of the first Camito die machined by Sandvik. This deal means that we will now conduct a complete analysis of machining strategies for SwePart,” said Göran Berter, Director and head of research at Sandvik Tooling.
“With the acquisition of SwePart Verktyg we will be taking a structural grip on the domestic market for production of stamping dies to the automotive industry, which in the long run, can mean shorter lead times by up to 30 percent. The knowledge we will be developing on home ground will be made use of in our global expansion strategy for the Camito concept,” said Hans Svensson, the largest shareholder and CEO of NovaCast Technologies.
NovaCast also offers fast and cost-effective systems for the production of automotive castings in compacted graphite iron. Another subsidiary, NovaCast Foundry Solutions, offers powerful software packages that basically cover the complete needs in a foundry, from methoding to process control and environmental control.
Customers include Scania CV AB, Volvo Powertrain Corporation, Rolls Royce Marine AS, Vestas Castings Guldsmedshyttan AB, Componenta Pietarsaari Oy, Vald. Birns Jernstöberi A/S, Fritz Winter Eisengiesserei GmbH&Co, Zanardi Fonderie S.p.A, Precision Disc Castings Ltd, Daehan Special Metal Co. Ltd., Isuzu Castec Cooperation and Brakes India Limited.
Automotive Industries asked Svensson to explain how the acquisition of SwePart Verktyg will impact the company.
Svensson: By including Sweapart in our Group we will cover the whole value chain to the end customer in terms of the Tool and Die industry. But the real potential is to turn Swepart into a Camito specialist, using our Camito technology in the Tool and Die production. This means considerable reduction of man hours and for the customer and therefore reduced lead time.
AI: What solutions do you offer?
Svensson: The main tools - usually the tools for the outer body - are critical to lead times. By using the Camito concept manufacturers can go to the market faster or can include late changes without pushing the planned release date forward.
Regarding our new CGI material Graphyte, and especially the Graphyte Flow system, it means high speed CGi production in an ordinary production line. The system is also environmental friendly as it reduces the smoke from the process. But, most impressive is the enhanced machining data, pushing the Graphyte material closer to grey iron speed in the machine shop. This means reduced need for investments, and higher production output, when turning CGI in engine blocks and heads. And there are a lot of CGI projects happening right now!
AI: How does your company help the productivity of foundries?
Svensson: By using our simulation software NovaFlow/Solid, manufacturers can ensure there are no defects in the castings – without expensive live tests. Our advanced process control system, ATAS for grey and ductile iron and Graphyte for CGI are based on thermal analysis. They tell you how to mix the perfect melt, and keep the outcome extremely consistent during the production.
One example from Italy is the Anselmi foundry which saved Euro 2-million the first year by installing the ATAS system. Another example is Toyota in Japan, who installed the ATAS system at Toyota’s foundry in Myochi in Southern Japan. The foundry, with approximately 1000 employees, produces cast safety parts for Toyota’s various car models. With the adaptive ATAS(R) system Toyota intends to optimize production and enhance total yield, with lowered production costs as a result.
AI: How big is the company’s global reach?
Svensson: We have customers in 42 countries and we supply some of the major automotive groups with parts from our product program. Our subsidiary, Swepart Verktyg AB ( Tool and Die production) is a quality approved supplier to BMW/Mini, GM/Saab, Ford/Volvo, VW, Scania and Wagon. The new patented Camito concept (die shoes in one piece) has, so far, been introduced to Volvo, Saab and Audi.
The new patented Graphyte system for high volume production of CGI, with a proven enhanced machinability is currently being tested by six of the major automotive foundries in the world. Our strategy is to offer manufacturers in the automotive industry software and products to enhance quality and cut lead-time and costs in their production.
AI: What plans does the company have to expand its businesses?
Svensson: Our strategy is to strength our position in Europe, our home market. We are currently looking into business in Germany and France and we already have co-operations in Turkey. Then we will look at Asia and the US. In fact, we just invested a 7 percent stake in a Korean foundry which will produce windmill and heavy diesel engine castings using our software technology.
However, in some cases we will follow our customers, as they are global. The financial, and now also in some cases industrial, melt down is serious and will affect us all for years. However, it will also build up an extreme demand for investments some years from now - as people hold back from buying new cars today - they will all need new cars and trucks two to three years from now. We will prepare for this situation.
Because our products offer enhanced quality and lead-time at the same time as they cut costs in the industry we predict the demand will increase. Our customers are currently looking for savings and efficiency - and that is what we sell.
The Camito Method
The Camito method was developed by Camito AB, which was taken over by NovaCast in 2000. It is an entirely new concept for the production of tools based on melting together cast iron and tool steel into one solid piece. This results in considerably shorter lead times for tool production.
Tool production controls lead times in product development, among others in the automotive industry. CAMITO AB is focused primarily on the automotive industry, where the product life cycle is ever shorter and the variety of products is increasing rapidly.
The Camito process is now being introduced to the international market. According to the company, lead times for introducing a new vehicle can be cut down by an average of 30 percent using the Camito method, with no increase in tool costs.
NovaCast has participated as a consultant in the development of the method and has also integrated its simulation software package into the software that controls the Camito process.