Luvata comprises 35 companies that employ 6,500 people in 27 factories in 13 countries. Recently it started producing resistance welding consumables in Suzhou, China. Luvata products under the brand names of Nitrode, Z-Trode, A-Trode, C-Trode, Cupal, and Nitrode Composite are used by leading manufacturers in the Asia Pacific region, including Honda, General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota and Citroen.
Suzhou is Luvata’s third such plant, and incorporates technology found in Luvata’s facilities in Delaware, the USA and Welwyn Garden City in Britain. “Suzhou will enable us to focus on the ongoing, huge demand for welding electrodes in this region. It’s an aggressive industry, often with very short lead times, so we need to be close to where the action is,” says Jussi Helavirta, executive vice-president of Luvata’s electrical and industrial division.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Jerker Adeberg, president of the Heat Transfer Automotive division to tell us more about the restructuring.
Adeberg: We currently have two factories manufacturing products for the division. This will not change. Both of these factories manufacture for global markets, with a combined sales-force supported by R&D teams and technical engineers. The restructuring exercise simply aims to streamline our Heat Transfer Automotive operations to ensure our continuing profitability.
AI: How important is the automotive part of your business?
Adeberg: Due to its global growth, the automotive sector is a key priority for Luvata. Our work in the sector does not focus solely on copper and brass – we have to look at other materials like aluminium to be able to fully support the total automotive sector and utilise our skills, applications and engineering expertise.
AI: It looks like Luvata’s Heat Transfer Automotive division is shifting out of high-cost Europe to low-cost Asia?
Adeberg: This is not the case at all. We want to develop and utilise our techniques for Heat Transfer Automotive in Europe further, rather than move this work to Asia. Our main two production facilities in Sweden and Holland remain central to Luvata’s Heat Transfer Automotive division. We are working to make these more competitive by working on ‘optimisation’ projects – for example, Luvata’s production system. We have excellent quality standards in Europe and we are confident that our facilities will bring to market products of an excellent quality. Our integrated and vertical casting gives us an advantage when producing thinner gauges.
AI: Apart from Asia, what are the other regions in which Luvata is expanding?
Adeberg: Europe and the US remain key focus areas for expanding our manufacturing base. In terms of future sales, we will continue to view their potential globally and our specific focus will be driven by individual customer needs.
The Heat Transfer Automotive division has many global customers who have production plants in Europe, the Far East, the USA and Australia, and they want to use the same quality products across all their plants worldwide, and for this they need us to supply consistent quality products to all plants.
AI: What are some of the Heat Transfer Automotive
division’s strategies in increasing its global client base?
Adeberg: We are running development projects with some truly global players like Denso, Modine, Behr etc. We follow them when they restructure and centralise. For example, if they introduce global purchasing and R&D, we can support these customers with our global capabilities. For each individual customer we reshape our business model and approach and can adapt to reflect their requirements. As for new customers, we have the best understanding of our customers’ customers’ customer! We know what the final end user wants – and what they expect from our products, particularly the added value they can bring. Luvata’s Heat Transfer Automotive division has the reputation for being ‘the supplier of choice’ for many international organisations.