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Automotive Industries speaks to Hans Svensson, CEO of NovaCast Technologies

Automotive Industries speaks to Hans Svensson

Last month, the Swedish NovaCast Technologies acquired SwePart Verktyg, Scandinavia’s leading die manufacturer, from the Norwegian Bandak Group in a combined cash and shares bid. Under the terms of the deal, die manufacturer SwePart will provide the group with expertise within the whole value chain for the manufacture and sales of stamping dies.

This acquisition is expected to help NovaCast push the popularity of its Camito process for the production of stamping dies to the automotive industry globally. This process was developed by Camito AB, which was taken over by NovaCast in 2000. The process involves the melting together of cast iron and tool steels into one solid piece. This helps to cut lead-times and costs considerably. With the acquisition of SwePart Verktyg NovaCast will have the whole value chain at its disposal and will be able to deliver complete dies. The potential for the Camito method is considerable, with approximately 90,000 car body dies for the automotive industry being produced yearly.

“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.

Together with its strategic partner Sandvik Coromant, NovaCast aims at using the Camito concept to considerably shorten lead times in the production of stamping dies. NovaCast Technologies, was founded in 1981. Its subsidiary, Camito AB, focuses on the automotive market. According to the company, the automotive market has a turnover of over 100 billion SEK yearly in contour forming tools for new automobile models. 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.

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. “NovaCast has an installation base to date of 610 software licences at 399 foundries in 42 countries. Our customers represent over 60% of the world’s casting products related to the automotive industry,” says the company.
Some of the company’s 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 spoke to Hans Svensson, CEO of NovaCast Technologies.

AI: Please tell us how your acquisition of SwePart Verktyg will impact your company. And will it help recession-proof NovaCast?

By including Sweapart in our Group we will cover the whole value – chain to the end customer in terms of Tool & Die industry. But, the real potential is to turn Swepart into a Camito specialist, using our Camito technology in the Tool & Die production. This means considerable reduction of man hours and for the customer – reduced lead time.

AI: What are some of the solutions you offer to automotive industries wishing to install systems that can help improve and speed up production processes?

It is quite obvious that casting of a die shoe with the Camito technology, in one single peace instead of building the tool with a lot of loose parts will improve not only the lead time but also the quality. Further down it will effect also the maintenance of the product. The main tools, usually the tools for outer body where you find the design of the car, in a car project are lead time critical. By using the Camito concept you can go to the market faster – or you can include late changes without pushing the planned release forward.

Regarding our new CGI material Graphyte® , and especially the Graphyte Flow® system, it means high speed CGi production in your ordinary production line. The system is also environmental friendly, as it reduces the smoke from the process. But, most important, is the enhanced machining data, giving the Graphyte® material closer to grey iron speed in your machine shop. This means reduced need for investments, and higher production output, when you turn CGI in engine blocks and heads. 

And there are a lot os CGI projects going out there right now!

AI: How does your company help the productivity of foundries that specialize in casting components to the automotive industry – can you please give us some examples?

NovaCast are specialists in foundry quality and efficiency. By using our simulation soft ware NovaFlow/Solid you make sure there are no defects in your castings – without expensive live tests. Our advanced process control system, ATAS® for grey and ductile iron and Graphyte® for CGI , based on thermal analysis, tells you how to mix the perfect melt, and keep the outcome extremely consistent during the production. 

I can give you one example from Italy where the Anselmi foundry 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: Please tell us a little about NovaCast and its subsidiaries’ strategy in the automotive sector – how big is your company’s global reach?

At the moment we have customers in 42 countries and we supply some of the major automotive groups with parts of our product program. Our subsidiary Swepart Verktyg AB ( Tool & die production) is Quality Approved Supplier to BMW/Mini, GM/Saab, Ford/Volvo, VW, Scania and Wagon. The new patented Camito concept ( die shoes in one peace ) have, 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 than old material, are at the moment tested by 6 of the major automotive foundries in the world.

Our strategy is to offer the automotive industry soft ware and products to enhance quality and cut lead-time and costs in their production.

AI: What plans does your company have to expand its businesses in new regions and how do you think the global economic meltdown will impact these plans?

Our strategy is to strength our position in Europe, our home market. We are right now looking in 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% stake in a Korean foundry who will produce wind mill and heave diesel engine castings using our soft ware 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 effect us all for years. However, it will also build up an extreme demand for investments some years from now – as nobody buys new cars today – they will all need new cars and trucks 2 – 3 years from now. We will prepare for this situation.

As our products means enhanced quality and lead-time at the same time as they cut costs in the industry we find the demand will increase. Our customers are right now looking for savings and efficiency – and that is what we sell.

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