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Automotive Industries speaks with a cross-section of Israeli companies to understand better what innovation and creativity the country has to offer automotive companies

This March, the Israeli government gave the joint Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian Peace Valley project a boost by labeling it a national project which means it will get preferential treatment and a clear passage through bureaucracy. A brain-child of Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres, the project includes an industrial and agricultural park, an airport and railway links between the three partners. Peres’ idea being that the 500 kilometer project that will stretch from the Red Sea to the Yarmuk River, will provide stability in the region. The bulk of the funding for the project is expected to come from the World Bank, foreign governments and private investors.

Peres is also pushing to place Israel firmly on the automotive map by making it a regional hub to test the efficacy of electricity-powered cars as well as other novel cars. The pilot program is an initiative with Israeli technology guru Shai Agassi (formerly of SAP) and the government. Peres is reportedly in talks with European and Asian car manufacturers to promote the idea of using Israel as testing ground for new cars.

The two projects will help Israel emerge as a hub for automotive companies. The country’s automotive exports are reportedly USD 200 million currently. A major source of interest in Israel for auto companies is die-cast magnesium – the country has large stores of the alloy. Volkswagen AG and the Israeli company Dead Sea Works, produce and market magnesium across the globe. Magnesium is the lightest of all commercially available alloys. Israel is also known for its plastic, metals, rubber and electronics auto parts.

The Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute or IEICI, is the primary organization that facilitates trade opportunities, joint ventures and strategic alliances between international businesses and Israeli companies. “Israel’s unmatched pool of highly skilled workers, world-renowned research capabilities, and free trade agreements with all major economic powers make it the ideal place to do business. Whether you’re in the market for high-tech systems or consumer goods, Israeli market is a reservoir of technological capabilities, innovative solutions, quality manufacturing, trade cooperation opportunities and experienced, talented professionals,” says a blurb on the IEICI website.

The IEICI, set up in 1958 as a non-profit organization, is a joint venture between the Israeli government and the private sector. It has helped 5000 exporters – 1500 of them being members of the organization. The IEICI operates in most countries through official Israeli representative like embassies, commercial and economic attaches. The organization helps promote 27 industry or technology sectors including automotive. Israel has a pool of highly skilled workers, winning it the sobriquet of ‘Silicon Valley of the Middle East’.

Israel’s list of automotive companies that offer a range of products to the world is huge. One such is Recognix Technologies Ltd, a leading software and solutions provider of image processing applications. The company specialises in image processing technologies, image and video analysis, signal enhancement based on an innovative approach to pattern recognition, and system analysis awareness with extensive hands on experience.
Recognix core technology focuses on image processing through innovative approach and algorithms enabling a wide spectrum of business activities both in the security and military fields, as well as the automotive industry. The company has a joint venture with Magal Engineering Ltd to develop and supply the vehicle industry with vision based situation awareness and safety embedded systems. Its advanced drivers assistance system or ADAS, provides advanced information to drivers from areas that drivers cannot maintain constant sight of or dead area. Recognix plans to develop innovative systems that will be based on a small size processing unit, LCD screen and several cameras built into the car body.

Also helping Israel get its Silicon Valley tag, is Nextec Technologies. It specializes in high precision, non contact 3D scanning for geometry inspection, quality control and reverse engineering applications. Nextec says its goal is to help its customers achieve improved, high precision and fast geometry inspection methods for more economical manufacturing and improved quality control process.

Nextec scientists have developed proprietary optical metrology – laser scanning technology that provides solutions for quality inspection, digitizing and real-time process control. These special products – the WIZprobe scanning sensor, The WIZinspect and WIZblade systems and the Hawk digitizer are providing edge of technology solutions to measurement challenges. WIZblade Systems were installed in Rolls Royce Israel and Rolls Royce China’s production floor, as well as in USA, Japan, Russia and India. Similarly, WIZinspect on-line systems were installed in Volkswagen’s Mexican facility. Nextec implemented its first project at Rautenbach-Guss, a German engine head manufacturer for Volkswagen, Audi and Mitsubishi during 2003.

Israeli company Taditel, is a leading tier 2 automotive electronics module designer and manufacturer that produces voltage regulators and control units for both original equipment manufacturer or OEMs as well as for the aftermarket. The company has positioned itself as a global supplier of custom microelectronic solutions.
Taditel says it has far reaching capabilities for supplying a wide range of microelectronic technologies. Its products include thick film hybrids, chip-on-board, multi-chip modules, chip and wire (aluminum and gold), SMT over ceramic or PCB substrates, power modules and diffusion patterning.

Some of Taditel’s customers include Delphi, Remy, Valeo, Bosch, Alcatel, Boeing, Picker, Rockwell, Magnet Marelli, and Johnson Controls. The company has the QS 9000 quality certification, and says that over the last 25 years, it has applied the most advanced electronic technologies and production facilities to develop and manufacture leading edge microelectronic solutions.

Some of its advanced applications that are found in many high-end cars include voltage regulators (one chip or hybrid), ignition coil drivers and engine control units. For GM cars’ aftermarket, Taditel manufactures CS and AD voltage regulators. Similarly, it makes xG voltage regulators for Ford’s aftermarket.

The USD10 million Taditel, has around 60 employees and a US distribution centre located in Indiana. “Taditel implements state-of-the-art technologies developed for more than 20 years by its subsidiary Tactel Electronics, for almost any application in medical, telecommunications, avionics, automotive, and industrial fields. Taditel’s team of production engineers is expert at developing high performance manufacturing programs based on customers’ build-to-print designs. With capabilities for hardware, software and mechanical skill to translate build-to-spec parameters into cost effective, exceedingly reliable, high performance products,” says a company statement.

Taditel says its high end production facilities extend far beyond the assembly line. Its in-house capabilities include printing, scribing, laser trimming, SMT and bare die assembly, AI and Au bonding, electrical testing (functional and ICT) for both mass production and tailor-made order. Plus the company has special purpose mass production process automation, integrating its technologies into a single robust assembly line.

“With a strict adherence to customer JIT timetables and an accelerated turnaround time, Taditel™ enables tier 1 and tier 2 OEM producers, as well as aftermarket rebuilders to get their product to market faster and more efficiently,” says the company.

Taditel says its strength lies in its team of production engineers with capabilities for hardware, software and mechanical design. The company engineers are expert at translating customer specifications into cost-effective, reliable and quality products. “This team is well known for its reputation at developing high performance, state of the art manufacturing processes,” says the company.

Another company, Pulsar Ltd. offers innovative manufacturing solutions that enable a new level of product design and production possibilities. Based on its proprietary magnetic pulse technology, Pulsar solutions enable companies to achieve higher quality processes, using a wider range of materials with fewer tools and processing steps, at significantly less cost than ever before. Pulsar says it has invested over 100 man years in bringing its products to maturity and today many leading manufacturers worldwide are producing parts using the Pulsar systems.

For the automotive sector, Pulsar offers a range of products that helps automotive manufacturers who are seeking new design concepts and manufacturing methods. “Weight reduction, quality improvements to avoid rework and warranty costs, and design simplification to reduce manufacturing costs, are becoming major challenges to car makers and their suppliers. Pulsar helps manufacturers address these challenges.
Pulsar solutions, based on magnetic pulse technology, reduce the complexity and cost of manufacturing auto components while increasing their reliability,” says a statement on the company website.

The products include automotive climate control elements such as accumulators and receiver dryers which do not use the typical design, based mainly around the constraints of MIG or TIG welding methods. Instead, its Pulsar MP-Weld â„¢, which is a cold weld, eliminates problems like leaking completely as well as enabling lower wall thickness (and weight). The company says MP-Weld delivers a very high quality, stable and strong weld within an extremely short cycle time. The company also manufactures leak-free fuel filters, exhaust parts, drive shafts, power cables and fuel pipes using its MP-Weld process.

Automotive Industries spoke to Rani Plaut, CEO of Pulsar.

AI: Please tell us a little about the pending patents your company has filed in the US.

Pulsar has a large number of patents, both registered and pending, in the US as well as other territories covering critical elements in the magnetic pulse system and the process.

This IP ensures Pulsar is at the front line of magnetic pulse technology, spearing the trend of utilizing this production technique, adding value for its users world wide. This recognized leadership enables Pulsar to impact and push the penetration into production lines by ensuring the systems are as stable and reliable as any other traditional production method.
In addition, Pulsar owns Patents in specific applications, for the use of its process. The main aim of these patents is to ensure customers are not getting blocked out of a specific application and the utilization of the technology can be for the benefit of the automotive industry world wide.

AI: How much of Pulsar’s business comes from the automotive sector?

Approximately 80%

AI: What are your plans to increase your company’s reach globally?

Pulsar has two main streams for broadening its global reach apart from the regular relationships it has with large customers world wide. The first is a distributor’s network and the second is PREP (Pulsar Research & Education Program).

Distributors of Pulsar are being trained at Pulsar headquarters in a unique program that includes hands on experience with the systems. During this training, the distributors are getting familiar both with the technology and the market approach. In the technological part, they are getting familiar with the basic principles and the different parameters in the process while getting into the market approach, they receive training about the way to approach customers and to explain and prove the technological superiority and numerous added values (financial, environmental and more)

PREP is a program for research and academic institutes that involves the purchasing of a system in a considerable discount and receiving training and technological support for mastering MP technology. This is Pulsar’s way to introduce its exciting potential to the next generation (as well as the current one) of engineers.

Another Israeli firm that has been a pioneer in its area of expertise is Mobileye Vision Technologies. The company is a pioneer in the development of vision systems for intelligent transportation systems or ITS. Founded in 1999, the company is recognized as the leading provider of vision-based driver assistance technologies and has been selected by BMW and other major automotive companies worldwide for their production vehicles starting from 2007.

Mobileye says that its mission is to develop vision systems for accident reduction and driver assistance. These systems work as a sort of third eye for the driver. Applications such as distance keeping, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warnings, are tackled with Mobileye’s systems.

“Studies in the U.S. and Europe have shown that providing an early warning in case of an imminent crash can dramatically reduce accidents and casualties. However, the limited application of standard systems available today (based on Radar and LIDAR sensors) and high price have hindered their widespread adoption in the market. Mobileye’s EyeQ vision system-on-a-chip or SOC, represents technological breakthrough that combines high performance, low cost and allows consolidation of multiple applications on a single platform is positioned to revolutionize the implementation of driver assistance systems on a mass scale,” says the company.

Mobileye says it will start delivering its technology in six production platforms starting this year with BMW and two other leading car manufacturers in the US and Europe. Additional OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers have Mobileye evaluation systems installed in vehicles for advanced development and research programs with an additional number of production intent agreements already in place. Mobileye’s R&D center is located in Jerusalem, Israel, with sales and marketing offices in Cyprus, Detroit MI, USA, and Tokyo, Japan. The company has over 160 employees worldwide.

Apart from electronics, Israeli firms are known for their zinc and magnesium parts for the automotive industry. Ortal Diecasting, specializes in the manufacture of zinc and magnesium die-casting parts, utilizing its knowledge to provide exceptional development, prototypes, tools, mould design, manufacturing and J.I.T supply to companies like ZF Nacam, VW-Audi, General Motors, Autoliv, Huf, Valeo, Rittal, and other automotive companies. Ortal is part of TG group which hold Tadirgan who is the largest Aluminum high pressure die-casting company. Main activities are producing Oil sump, Cam cover, bed plat and more parts that are delivered to GM, Ford, International and other.

Automotive Industries spoke to Oded Wertheim, Ortal vice-president for marketing and business development.

AI: Apart from the US and Europe, is Ortal planning to expand its reach?

Ortal Die casting is focusing on Europe and the US market. We intend to proceed and increase our market share in these regions as we believe our advantages and applications relate mainly to European and US customers.

AI: What do you think the impact of the Peace Valley initiative will be on Israel’s industry especially the automotive industry?

As an Israeli citizen, I am looking forward to a peaceful solution with our neighbors, which will bring success to our region. When the peace process reaches its final phases, I believe more International companies will increase their cooperation with Israeli firms. The Peace, Israeli modern abilities, high education and lower labor costs combined will lead our region to thrive.

AI: How much of your business comes from automotive clients?

We are exporting more then 90% of our production and about 70% of our total turnover originates from the automotive industry. The total turnover is expected to increase significantly in the near future and the automotive share will reach more than 80%. This increased supply to the automotive industry started about 15 years ago along with the birth of Israel-Arab-Palestinian Peace process

Similarly, Foamotive, specializes in foam-based products for the automotive industry. Set up in 1999, the company specializes in tailor-made foam parts for automotive seating, under-the-hood and outer shell applications. It says it is sole supplier of 30 out of the 32 parts it manufactures.

Israel’s Omen High Pressure Die Casting, is a specialist in high-pressure die-casting using non-ferrous metals like aluminum and brass. It manufactures auto parts like fuel pump covers and clutch pedal assemblies.

Mivrag Cold Forming Technology, is a global supplier of automotive parts that are made by cold forming. Cold forming is a forging process in which metal wire is cut, extruded and shaped on high force multiple-die machines. The company was established in 1952 at the Kibbutz-Ein Hashofet which was settled in 1937 and like other kibbutzim played an important role in the establishment of the State of Israel. Initially, the small communal society relied on agriculture for its livelihood. Today, the kibbutz is a strong and successful group that owns, manages and operates three profitable industrial companies.

In 1990, began exports to European automotive customers like the PSA Group, Volkswagen, Ford and Delphi Automotive Systems. Mivrag has a state of the art fully automated cataphoretic plating line (E-Coat). The line is the second of its kind to have been installed in the world. The tray-based system replaces the traditional labor-intensive hanging systems, ensuring consistent quality and competitive pricing and allows the plating of parts of a large variety of shapes and sizes.

Another member of the Kibbutz Ein Hashofet is Eltam and MAG. MAG supplies integrative mechanical and electro-mechanical assemblies for the automotive industry. “MAG benefits from in-house competencies including stamping, cold forming, electronics and finishing. When combining these competencies with an extensive network of global suppliers MAG ensures product superiority complemented by competitive pricing. Opel. GM, Audi and VW are customers,” says the company.

The third automotive firm in the Kibbutz Ein Hashofet is Eltam. The company is the largest manufacturer of ballasts in Israel and the Middle East. The company designs and manufactures ballasts and other magnetic and electronic accessories for the lighting industry. In addition to the above, the company has established itself as an approved supplier of cold forming parts and subassemblies to the automotive industries. The company exports to Western and Eastern Europe, the US, south-east Asia, Australia and Africa. It has a tie up with German lighting company Vossloh-Schwabe.

ScanMaster is a leading supplier to the automotive industry, providing high-end ultrasonic solutions for the inspection of spot welds in production environments.
First in the world to introduce a PC-based UT inspection instrument, ScanMaster continues to lead the market with innovation and creativity.

Resistance spot welding is a fast economical process for joining thin sheets of metal. Average car has approximately 4,000-6,000 spot welds. The current method is to test the spot weld using the chisel and hammer accompanied by visual inspection. This method takes time and the part often requires rework or is often discarded.

ScanMaster provides an affordable ultrasonic system, which automatically can analyze ultrasonic wave-form reflections from the welded spots and determine whether the weld is good or defective. Moreover, the analyzing algorithm can classify the defect according to typical defect signatures and sizes.

Inspections are fully documented; reports are automatically generated during inspection and can be archived as per the most stringent customer defined requirements.

Implementation of SpotWeld Inspector can assist in reduce inventory loss and inspection time. In addition, testing safety increased and reliability of welds and of welding process increased.

Hundreds of SpotWeld systems installed world-wide, and been used successfully for years by companies as Daimler-Chrysler, BMW, VW, Audi, Opel, GM, Renault, Fiat, Seat, Nissan, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Kia and others.

Many Israeli firms have R&D facilities in Israel and manufacturing locationssales subsidieries in countries like the US. Such as Friction Control Solutions or FriCSo, which was founded in 2003 by Dr. Boris Shamshidov and Dr. Alexander Ignatovsky, two scientists specializing in tribology, the science of friction, lubrication and wear. The company’s headquarters has a wholly owned sales subsidiary are located in Farmington Hills, MI, near Detroit – the heart of the US automotive industry and sales representatives in Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea. The R&D center is located in the Tirat Hacarmel Industrial Zone, Israel. The company provides patented, environmentally friendly nanolayer-based Surface Engineering Treatment technology that significantly reduces friction between moving parts. The technology won the 2006 Frost & Sullivan Technology Innovation Award in the field of automotive coatings. The award recognizes FriCSo’s breakthrough Surface Engineering Treatment (SET) technology, which reduces the friction between moving parts using an innovative chemical-mechanical process.

“FriCSo’s solution is not a coating but delivers coating-like performance at a fraction of the time, cost and maintenance required by traditional solutions. Metal parts treated with SET enjoy high wear resistance and improved energy efficiency in the engines. SET is cost effective compared to using exotic metals (such as bronze) for metal-pairs design, DLC and other coatings and bushings, and even offers superior performance in certain applications. Being environment friendly, this technology does not produce any toxic waste and complies with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions,” said Amir Weisberg, CEO of FriCSo, Inc.

For example, FriCSo’s SET has proven in recent third party (Technion – Israeli Institute of Technology) testing to improve fuel consumption of a tractor diesel engine by between 3 to 4% (over baseline), reduce oil consumption by 48% and reduce particulate matter emissions (attributed to oil consumption) by over 40%.

Automotive Industries spoke to Amir Weisberg, CEO and Danny Weiss, VP Business Development, FricSo.

AI: What was the reasoning behind setting up your R&D in Israel and your manufacturing base in the US?[The US office is not a manufacturing base. Manufacturing will be done in Israel. Therefore, I suggest a different question]

AI: What are FriCSo’s plans for the rest of 2007 and beyond?

FriCSo is experiencing great interest in its technology and polymer devices products from automaker and hydraulic OEMs and their Tier suppliers. FriCSo has recently signed its initial commercial contract and expected to sign additional few contracts during 2007. To meet the expected demand for FriCSo products, FriCSo is planning to raise about $10 million in a new round of financing during 2007. The funds will be used to open the company’s new production facility, and to expand its marketing, sales and customer support activities in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific.

AI: What are some of the new surface technologies FricSo is planning to launch this year?

FriCSo is constantly developing new generations of its patented family of polymers to reduce even further the friction between the friction pair of moving parts.

The friction reduction results in lower fuel consumption, lower oil consumption, lower emission levels and reduced wear (when applied on engine parts). When applied on out of engine parts (such as shock absorbers) the friction reduction results in performance improvement (smoother ride) and reduced wear.

AI: How different is your surface technologies compared to other automotive surface treatments?

FriCSo’s unique upper nanolayer is created via FriCSo’s Surface Engineering Treatment (SET), a polymer lapping process, utilizing FriCSo’s patented polymer devices, which is administered by existing machinery, such as lathes, super finishing machines, honing machines, etc.
The FriCSo SET simultaneously reduces surface roughness and forms a unique upper nanolayer with oil retention capabilities, which improves the part’s friction performance in all lubrication conditions.

Treating surfaces with FriCSo’s SET is cost effective and is significantly less expensive than coatings or exotic material friction pairs that have traditionally been utilized for similar applications, creating market demand driven by customers’ strive towards lower costs and leaner manufacturing processes (eliminating batch processes related to such current alternatives).

Reduced friction translates into improved system efficiency (reduced fuel and oil consumption), decreased emission levels, reduced wear (and the resulting increase in parts’ service life), and overall smoother performance.

Netzer Precision Motion Sensors manufactures high quality position encoders that are based on a proprietary technology invented by Yishay Netzer. The company continuously develops its electric encoder technology to suit more and more applications. Mr Netzer, has been responsible for innovative, multidisciplinary systems that involve electronic design, optics and mechanical design.

Netzer Position Motion Sensors Ltd. Develops and manufactures Electric Encodersâ„¢ which are uncompetable solutions for several developing automotive applications, such as steer-by-wire, break-by-wire and driver’s alert monitoring.

In a very demanding and harsh environment of the automotive world and the need for cost-effective, highly reliable solutions, Netzer’s tough, light-weight encoder technology is the most suitable component for all-terrain, all-weather vehicles.

All of Netzer’s products have unparalleled robustness in extreme conditions such as temperature, environment (mud or dust), shock and vibrations. With the new dimension of driving by-wire the need for cost effective positioning sensors (steer , suspension and brakes) present excellent opportunity for the electrical encoders.

Then, of course, Israel has ISCAR run by Eitan Wertheimer, who is a key player in Peres’ plans to develop cars that run on electricity. ISCAR is a dynamic full line supplier of precision carbide metal working tools, producing a wide range of carbide inserts, carbide end mills and cutting tools covering most metal cutting applications.

ISCAR also provides metal working solutions in both engineering and manufacturing to major industries throughout the world. Many innovative products, designed specially according to customer requirements, have made ISCAR a world leader in manufacturing industries such as automotive, aerospace and die & mold production. Over half of the company’s sales are from products developed within the last five years.

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