Ges­tamp with hot stamp­ing tech­nol­ogy leads weight-re­duc­tion drive

Auto components India - - CONTENTS - Story by: Ashish Bha­tia Pho­tos: Sau­rabh

Ges­tamp, spe­cialises in de­sign, de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­ture of metal com­po­nents and units for pas­sen­ger car man­u­fac­tur­ers. The Span­ish multi­na­tional com­pany, that is present in 20 coun­tries, with 96 in­dus­trial plants and 9 plants un­der con­struc­tion, 12 Re­search and De­vel­op­ment (R&D) cen­tres, had a turnover of Euro 7.035 bil­lion in 2015. The turnover can be cred­ited to its ex­ten­sive use of hot stamp­ing tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate safer and lighter ve­hi­cles which in turn im­proves the ve­hi­cle’s over­all en­ergy con­sump­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

Hot stamp­ing is one of the so­lu­tions that is claimed to al­low man­u­fac­tur­ers to re­duce the weight of the body in white (BIW) struc­ture. Ges­tamp, with hot stamp­ing, claims to at­tain 30% weight re­duc­tion of Body In White (BIW) parts. For In­dian OEMs weighed down by the pres­sure to meet sev­eral cor­re­lated reg­u­la­tory dead­lines in the short-to-medium-term, Ges­tamp senses an op­por­tu­nity to lever­age the early mover ad­van­tage.

With hot stamp­ing said to im­prove the ve­hi­cle’s be­hav­iour in case of col­li­sion, thereby ad­di­tion­ally con­tribut­ing to pas­sen­ger safety, it is also per­haps the most op­por­tune time for a com­pany like Ges­tamp. In­dian OEMs have been con­sis­tently fail­ing the Global New Car As­sess­ment Pro­gramme (NCAP), and are now des­per­ately look­ing to make the cut. It is here that Ges­tamp, one of the world’s largest providers of parts made by hot stamp­ing, is look­ing to ex­tend its in­dus­trial model such that it cov­ers the en­tire value chain, with press lines and dies man­u­fac­tur­ing at its fa­cil­i­ties.

Its new plant in Tale­gaon, in Pune, will be the third in the In­dian mar­ket. Apart from the fo­cus on hot stamp­ing, the group in In­dia of­fers other tech­nolo­gies like cold stamp­ing (in­clud­ing skin pan­els) and ro­botic weld­ing. The di­ver­sity en­sures a range of of­fer­ings, from large, medium and small stamp­ings, BIW as­sem­blies and Cross-Car Beams (CCB). How­ever, the com­pany with over 70 hot stamp­ing lines glob­ally, is bank­ing on the newly com­mis­sioned hot stamp­ing plant to sell OEMs the ob­vi­ous ad­van­tages as­so­ci­ated with adopt­ing hot stamp­ing. Hot stamp­ing is es­pe­cially the in­no­va­tive of­fer­ing that the man­u­fac­turer de­pends on to stay ahead of the curve as the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try looks to rein­vent it­self in times to come.

Growth in In­dia

Re­cently, in an ex­clu­sive chat with Auto Com­po­nents In­dia, Ra­man Nanda, Coun­try Head and Pres­i­dent of Ges­tamp In­dia, shared his views on how the hot stamp­ing tech­nol­ogy plant. “The new hot stamp­ing tech­nol­ogy plant will prove to be ben­e­fi­cial in re­duc­ing the over­all ve­hi­cle weight of pas­sen­ger cars, while en­abling OEMs to bet­ter ad­here to the coun­try’s new crash reg­u­la­tions, emis­sion norms, fuel ef­fi­ciency man­date and the forth­com­ing Bharat NCAP,” he said.

This con­fi­dence per­haps stems from Ges­tamp’s stel­lar per­for­mance in In­dia over the years. Since it be­gan the In­dian op­er­a­tions, Ges­tamp’s turnover has in­creased al­most 9 fold from Rs 1.3 bil­lion (Euro 19 mil­lion) in 2008 to about Rs 10.4 bil­lion in 2015 (Euro 157 mil­lion). Ac­cord­ing to IHS Au­to­mo­tive, the group has wit­nessed 8.7% year-on-year, in­crease in pro­duc­tion vol­umes. It as­sumes sig­nif­i­cance, con­sid­er­ing the rise in pro­duc­tion vol­umes in In­dia ac­counts for more than dou­ble the global growth ac­cu­mu­lated dur­ing the same pe­riod, es­ti­mated at 3.9%.

Not di­vulging per­for­mance in terms of the key fi­nan­cial and busi­ness met­rics, Nanda drew at­ten­tion to the adding of plants as a tes­ti­mony to the MNC meet­ing the set ob­jec­tives. “We have been giv­ing good re­turns to our share­hold­ers as only then we are en­ti­tled to ask for cap­i­tal in re­turn for our plant in­vest­ments,” he said.

New hot stamp­ing plant

Since en­ter­ing In­dia in 2008, Ges­tamp has in­vested Rs 10.8 bil­lion (Euro 150 mil­lion) in In­dia op­er­a­tions. For the new hot stamp­ing plant alone, claimed to be a first of its kind in In­dia, the com­pany has in­vested Rs 2.6 bil­lion (Euro 36 mil­lion). Built over an area of 28 acres, cov­er­ing an area of 10,000 sq.m, the new hot stamp­ing plant which has be­gun to man­u­fac­ture pre­vi­ous se­ries,

is claimed to be on sched­ule to be­gin se­rial pro­duc­tion in May, 2017. With a clear fo­cus on pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles, it will pro­vide ser­vices to OEMs like Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­bile (FCA), Ford and Tata Mo­tors to be­gin with. The first trial part at the plant be­gan on June 2, 2016. On vis­it­ing the plant, the level of au­to­ma­tion at­tained for an In­dian plant was also note­wor­thy.

“Au­to­ma­tion and util­i­sa­tion is key for high tech­nol­ogy and com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try like us to meet qual­ity and con­sis­tency,” em­pha­sised Nanda. “Lo­cal­i­sa­tion is equally cru­cial,” he added.

Chakan and Chen­nai plants

At the Chakan plant in Pune, Ges­tamp of­fers cold stamp­ing and HSS stamp­ing. Un­like in hot stamp­ing, where ad­vanced ul­tra high strength steel is formed into com­plex shapes, cold stamp­ing in­volves the trans­for­ma­tion of a sheet of metal at room tem­per­a­ture in­side a form­ing die un­der pres­sure. At Ges­tamp, the press force ranges from 200-tonnes to 2,500-tonnes. The presses are op­er­ated in the up­per range of force of greater than 1,000-tonnes where con­se­quently high strength ma­te­ri­als, with a typ­i­cal strength of 1,000 Mpa are stamped. Then there are sub-cat­e­gories of cold form­ing that in­clude roll form­ing and hy­dro-form­ing. Roll form­ing is a cold form­ing process where a coil strip is bended by pass­ing the strip through sets of rollers re­sult­ing in con­tin­u­ous de­for­ma­tion. Each set of rollers per­form an in­cre­men­tal part of the bend un­til the de­sired cross­sec­tion pro­file is ob­tained. The process is said to be ideal for pro­duc­ing parts with con­stant pro­files, long lengths and in large quan­ti­ties.

At Ges­tamp, in cold stamp­ing, sev­eral vari­a­tions of roll form­ing are per­formed. Th­ese also in­clude au­to­matic cut­ting, pierc­ing, sep­a­rat­ing and laser weld­ing. Hy­dro-form­ing is a spe­cialised type of cold form­ing that uses a high pres­sure hy­draulic fluid to press room tem­per­a­ture tubes into a die. The process con­sists of pre-bend­ing a metal­lic tube and plac­ing this pre-shaped tube in­side a die with the de­sired cross sec­tions and forms, and ap­ply­ing pres­sure to the in­side of the tube held by the die.

Dur­ing the blow­ing or form­ing of the tube held in the die, holes can be pierced into the tube thereby avoid­ing sec­ondary op­er­a­tions in most cases. Hy­dro-form­ing al­lows com­plex shapes with con­cav­i­ties to be formed, which would be dif­fi­cult or im­pos­si­ble with stan­dard stamp­ing. One of the ad­van­tages of us­ing this process is that it fa­cil­i­tates the cre­ation of a 3 di­men­sional tube. In con­trast, in cold stamp­ing, it can be man­u­fac­tured only by weld­ing 2 shells to­gether.

The abil­ity to de­form thick ma­te­ri­als makes hy­dro-form­ing par­tic­u­larly use­ful for chas­sis ap­pli­ca­tions. From the Chakan plant, com­mis­sioned in 2010, Ges­tamp serves OEMs like Volk­swa­gen and Skoda, through prod­ucts like large, medium and small stamp­ings cov­er­ing un­der body parts and struc­tural com­po­nents. Pro­duc­ing 90% of Volk­swa­gen skin parts, the car mod­els built for at Ges­tamp’s Chakan plant in­clude Volk­swa­gen mod­els like: Vento, Polo and Ameo. It ad­di­tion­ally pro­duces parts for the Skoda Rapid.

From the Chen­nai plant, com­mis­sioned in 2012, Ges­tamp serves Renault Nissan (H79 plat­form) and Ford (B515 plat­form) re­spec­tively, in­clud­ing pro­duc­ing the pedal as­sem­blies. With Renault Nissan, Ges­tamp achieved a 100% de­liv­ery rat­ing for 9 con­sec­u­tive months, since Septem­ber 2015. With Volk­swa­gen In­dia VDA 6. au­dit, the com­pany ob­tained ‘B’ rank­ing in the first at­tempt. “Cus­tomers like Volk­swa­gen set tough tar­gets year af­ter year which are tough to meet for most peo­ple. We have met those,” he said.

Skill de­vel­op­ment

At each fa­cil­ity of Ges­tamp, em­pha­sis is laid on im­part­ing train­ing to all its em­ploy­ees. Em­ploy­ees in di­verse job pro­files like pack­ers, pro­duc­tion tech­ni­cian, CMM op­er­a­tor, fork­lift op­er­a­tor and main­te­nance un­dergo phase-wise train­ing mod­ules. At the in­duc­tion level all em­ploy­ees go through 2 com­mon mod­ules over a pe­riod of 1 month. In phase 2, there are 3 mod­ules that are un­der­taken (four in case of pack­ers) that last for 11 months. An ad­vanced mo­d­ule awaits in phase 3 fol­lowed by a phase 4 ded­i­cated to the em­ploy­ees in the pro­duc­tion tech­ni­cian and main­te­nance pro­file.

In­no­va­tion

At the In­dia R&D cen­tre, ac­tiv­i­ties

for Ges­tamp broadly cen­tre around tool­ing de­sign and con­ver­sion of cold stamped parts in to hot stamped parts both of which are deemed as sig­nif­i­cant ac­tiv­i­ties. The hot form­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing nascent in In­dia, the in­vest­ment in R&D is one claimed to be ahead of its time. With re­sources not a con­straint for the MNC, the fo­cus is clearly on serv­ing the needs of the In­dian clien­tele. Dur­ing the process of con­cep­tion, de­sign and pro­duc­tion of a prod­uct, the fo­cus is on re­duc­ing weight and in­creas­ing pas­sive safety, apart from fo­cus­ing on com­fort, dura­bil­ity and re­cy­cla­bil­ity at the end of its use­ful life and qual­ity.

Of the 35000 plus em­ploy­ees work­ing glob­ally at Ges­tamp, 1300 em­ploy­ees are ded­i­cated to R&D ac­tiv­i­ties. About 3% of the turnover glob­ally is set aside for R & D.

Hot stamp­ing in In­dia

Ac­cord­ing to Nanda, the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try has long been aware of the en­force­ment var­i­ous reg­u­la­tions like the new crash reg­u­la­tions, emis­sion norms, fuel ef­fi­ciency man­date and the forth­com­ing Bharat NCAP among oth­ers. “Ev­ery one, from OEMs to com­po­nent mak­ers, has been aware of the reg­u­la­tions com­ing in to play but it takes courage to put money where the mouth is, like us,” he said.

The stress at Ges­tamp to­day is to mar­ket the con­cept of hot­stamp­ing. In the last 6 to 8 months em­pha­sis has been on work­ing closely with cus­tomers, try­ing to con­vert old cold stamped parts to hot stamped parts, con­duct­ing fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies among other such ef­forts. Speak­ing of the lag in adop­tion of hot stamp­ing in In­dia, Nanda said that it was at a rel­a­tively nascent stage when com­pared to Europe and USA where it has been there as a process for about 15 years. It was only a mat­ter of time for the tech­nol­ogy to pro­lif­er­ate in In­dia when body de­sign­ers and OEMs take a firm stand on us­ing hot stamp­ing proac­tively.

Ra­man Nanda, Coun­try Head & Pres­i­dent, Ges­tamp In­dia.

Train­ing and skill de­vel­op­ment is bench-marked to prac­tices at Ges­tamp’s plant in Dong­guan, in China.

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