E-mobility: A lighthouse project leads the way
Feintool is at the forefront of the transformation of the automotive industry: In addition to drive components, we also produce parts for the on-board electronics of e-cars. The Feintool plant in Ettlingen produces no fewer than seven different, high-precision copper parts for a system that absorbs voltage spikes. For this groundbreaking project, we have expanded fineblanking at our southern German site to include additional finishing processes.
E-mobility brings new world of parts
Electric drive is gaining ground at an increasing pace. The rapidly growing market offers Feintool great opportunities: our latest mainstay, e-sheet stamping, makes it possible to produce parts for the drive systems of hybrid and e-cars. And our core competence, fineblanking, is also in demand. A recent order for Feintool System Parts Ettlingen illustrates the equally large and exciting potential of being at the forefront of the transformation of the automotive industry. We have received an order from a German supplier of electronics and mechatronics to produce seven copper parts for an element of the on-board electronics of electric vehicles in 2021.
With e-mobility, a whole range of new components is emerging. This new world of parts, which Feintool is opening up, also includes the transient protection system in which our customer is installing the copper parts. This system assumes the function of a "voltage peak killer" and prevents a short circuit in the on-board electronics. In contrast to vehicles with combustion engines, the electrical power in e-cars is called upon for significantly more functions - from acceleration and braking to lights, air conditioning and the on-board computer. This causes high voltage fluctuations, which the transient protection system compensates for.
Feintool supplies durable and high-precision components for the emerging new world of parts in electromobility.
Door opener for further e-mobility projects
Currently, the plan is for Feintool to produce parts for 65,000 transient protection systems. Sales of the five-year contract with the new customer are in the single-digit millions. It is possible that the new customer, the German subsidiary of an OEM, will increase the volume. Further orders in the field of e-mobility are thus within reach: "For us, this project is a door opener. It shows that, in addition to e-sheet stamping, fineblanking also plays a central role in the transformation to e-mobility," says Winfried Blümel, Head of Feintool System Parts Europe.
However, fine blanking alone is not to be the end of the story. Our plant in Ettlingen, which specializes in the production of very small parts, has expanded its manufacturing expertise to include additional processing steps. For some time now, the site in southern Germany has had press brakes for bending parts. For the latest project, it has now invested in machines for milling and thread forming. "By increasing the vertical range of manufacture through more advanced processes, we are increasing added value. This also offers advantages for the customer," explains Blümel.
Ettlingen, specialized in the production of very small parts, has expanded its manufacturing expertise including additional processing steps.
Efficient development and production processes
This insourcing strategy saves costs and resources. Instead of purchasing machining steps externally and transporting parts across Europe, Feintool System Parts Ettlingen is implementing a complete package of manufacturing processes in-house for the first time in this project: In addition to the established processes of fineblanking, vibratory grinding and bending, we also handle threading, milling and deburring as well as cleaning and packaging. Only the silvering and passivation processes are implemented externally because these are chemical processes and not mechanical ones.
The order is also a lighthouse project because it demonstrates Feintool's innovative power and strengths in lean management. To ensure the project's profitability through efficient processes, complexity was reduced as far as possible - both in the development of the prototype tool and in the planning of the parts. Thanks to the innovative development work, which took around 2 years, a complete set of components can be produced with one tool. Instead of using a different tool for each of the seven copper parts, the fineblanking systems can be quickly changed over using interchangeable inserts. "This innovation has increased efficiency enormously and made the project economical," says Winfried Blümel.
Thanks to the innovative development work a complete set of components can be produced with one tool.
Award-winning lean management
During the development of the prototype tool, the German plant in Ettlingen worked intensively with departments at the Swiss site in Lyss. This enabled synergies between sales and engineering to be exploited. The consistent further development of internal processes in recent years has paid off: "We have linked all knowledge across plants. Previously separate units and plants have been merged, communication has been strengthened and overarching processes have been created," says Winfried Blümel, summarizing the latest changes.
The lean processes of our organization and the efficient cooperation of the eight production sites in Europe were honored with the Automotive Lean Production Award 2021. Leading manufacturers and suppliers in the automotive industry honored Feintool with the Special Award in the category "Business Unit Transformation - Learning Organization". This shows: We have an agile, learning organization as a whole and use synergies between the sites. For Winfried Blümel, the award proves that Feintool is on the right track: "We can respond very flexibly to customer needs and implement complex technical solutions in a short time." The lighthouse project in Ettlingen underlines this once again.
The lean processes of our organization and the efficient cooperation of the eight production sites in Europe (picture: Ettlingen) were honored with the Automotive Lean Production Award 2021.