Issue: Jun 2010


Turning technology into business benefits



How EFD Induction is helping the automotive industry reduce costs—while still boosting quality

by Steve Barclay

You’ll find them hardening steering,driveline and transmission parts for mass-market models. You’ll find them bonding hoods and doors for high-end marques. You’ll find them hardening shafts for off-road vehicles. You’ll even find them making suspension systems for Formula One racers. In fact, wherever autos and automotive components are made, chances are you’ll find EFD Induction heating solutions nearby.

Formed in 1996 by the merger of Norway’s Elva with the Germany company Fritz Düsseldorf Induktionserwärmung, EFD Induction has over the past decade grown to be one of the world’s largest induction heating specialists for the automotive industry. The company’s customers in the industry include virtually every significant car, truck and bus maker, as well as numerous tier-one suppliers. So how was such growth possible? And how does the company sustain its prominent position in the global automotive industry?

One answer is EFD Induction’s worldwide presence. Through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions, the company has built a network of production plants, sales and service centers and agents throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. This network includes a facility in Madison Heights, Michigan, and factories in Norway, Germany, France, China and India. These local presences in key manufacturing regions have been decisive to EFD Induction’s success. Because despite the speed and ubiquity of modern communications, production managers still value the reassurance that local after-sales support offers.

Heating innovations

EFD Induction’s solutions for the automotive industry fall into four broad categories:

• Hardening and tempering
• Brazing
• Bonding
• Straightening, shrink fitting and pre- and post-heating

Although EFD Induction has pioneered technology in numerous applications, the company is perhaps best known in the automotive business for its hardening and tempering solutions. These are used to treat a wide range of steering, driveline and transmission components; as well as crankshafts, camshafts, gears, drive shafts, output shafts, torsion bars, rocker arms, CV joints, tulips and valves. On the brazing side, EFD Induction equipment is used for a vast array of tasks, but is particularly popular for brazing brake parts, AC assemblies and fuel pipes.

EFD induction’s involvement in automotive bonding highlights the company’s role as a technical innovator. For example, EFD Induction is the world’s largest induction curing specialist. Achievements include the invention of induction spot curing, as well as the U-Coil® process. The latter is the most advanced hem bonding system on the market. A self-aligning and 100 per cent repeatable system, U-Coil® ensures uniform heating with the lowest possible distortion risk.

Another EFD Induction innovation of benefit to the automotive industry is the company’s patented Multi-Frequency Coil technology. This development ‘blends’ different frequencies in a single induction coil, allowing for optimal hardening results for complex geometries such as automotive gears.

Global resources—locally available

But even the most advanced technology is of limited use if it cannot be adapted to a customer’s specific needs. This is where EFD Induction’s deep automotive experience and network of R&D and testing centers play a vital role. Whatever their location, customers are never too far away from state-of-the-art simulation tools and testing facilities. Just as important, customers have ready access to experienced heating specialists—experts with a proven track record in devising customer-specific solutions within the automotive industry.

The company’s global reach has let it recruit the best of local expertise, which in turn means EFD Induction has great cultural and linguistic diversity among its technical staff. This has proven a great benefit to EFD Induction and its automotive customers, as it minimizes cultural and language obstacles during the course of projects. And of course, having local staff that is qualified to the highest international standards makes it easier for customers to benefit from EFD Induction’s training, preventive maintenance and spare parts services.

The global automotive industry faces tough challenges. Pressure to minimize costs is as intense as ever. But at the same time the industry must develop components and vehicles that are lighter, cleaner and more fuel efficient. Induction heating has to date played a key role in streamlining many production processes in the automotive industry. For example, induction heating is unmatched for speed, energy efficiency and environmental impact. And thanks to EFD Induction’s wide product portfolio, automotive expertise and global presence, more and more automotive companies can benefit from these crucial advantages.

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