Issue July / August 2007
Smart solutions form Magna Donnelly
Part of the Canadian Magna International Corporation formed in 1957, Magna Donnelly is a global supplier to the automotive industry and the world‘s leading producer of automotive mirror and vision systems.
Besides its rear-view technologies, the company specialises in door handle technologies, actuators as well as sun visors. Magna Donnelly serves every major automaker in the world – employing 7400 people in 15 countries.
With 41 facilities across the world, the company is focusing on producing a range of smart technologies, implementing optic and sensor solutions to develop innovations that will aid drivers. Working under the maxim of ‘safer, easier, better driving’, Magna Donnelly aims at reinventing the driving process with a series of solutions and technologies, including many product firsts. This includes the ‘Ground Illuminator’, a foot lamp, which illuminates the ground, offering drivers a new level of night time security, and the electrochromatic mirror, an auto-dimming mirror with a solid core, produced using solid polymer matrix technology.
Olaf Bongwald, vice president of operations for Europe and Africa, explains the company’s status: “Magna Donnelly is one of the leading companies in manufacturing interior and exterior mirrors for the automotive industry. The company is a global player, which means that it has facilities all over Europe, North America, South Africa, and Asia – especially in China, and a joint venture in India. In Germany it has three mirror plants and one sun visor plant. The organisation employs about 7400 people, thereof 3500 are employed across Europe. Overall, the company has sales of around 1.2 billion dollars, of which Europe, Asia, and Africa contribute about 675 million dollars.”
Product innovation is at the centre of the company’s operations. Several core technologies underpin Magna Donnelly’s range of solutions, all focused on shaping driving in the future. These technologies are designed to interact with drivers and passengers, to inform, comfort, and make them feel safe. For example, the company has been at the forefront of in-car electronics since the 1980s, advancing design and manufacturing processes in both Europe and the US to ensure technologies are quick, agile, nimble, and responsive. The next step is the development of telematics, two-way communicative technology that allows the integration of hands-free mobile phones, navigation and internet connection.
Olaf outlines the latest development: “Magna Donnelly has developed in co-operation with its partner Paragon Fidelity GmbH an inside mirror with an integrated navigation system, which will be on the market soon.”
This technology is at the forefront of Magna Donnelly’s range. Olaf continues to explain the other product developments: “One of the strategic products of the company is its range of door handles, and it is a key area Magna Donnelly aims to expand in, making it a bigger player in this area of business. In the mirror business, being already the market leader with many customers, Magna Donnelly strives for further market penetration.”
Key to the company’s innovation of new products is the research and development department, as Olaf elaborates: “At the beginning of the year, the company centralised its research and development department, so Magna Donnelly now has an advanced development team that is focusing on products like the navigation mirror.
“The company also has a central customer project development group. In the past, this focus was spread across the plants, but to get more synergy through different customers, there is a dedicated team now in the Sailauf facility. This development has allowed the company to become more efficient, and it also offers better value to the customer. Magna Donnelly is seen as an expert in manufacturing mirrors and customers value the experience Magna Donnelly has in that capability. They aim to collaborate to generate solutions and hope that similar innovations can be formulated through working closely with each other.”
Operational efficiency is fundamental to the progress and expansion of the company. Developing its own production management system means that Magna Donnelly must implement it in all facilities. After having finalised this in all European plants, its non-European facilities will be adjusted as a next step. Olaf comments: “The company has an operational system called MAFACT: the Magna factory concept. This is based on the Toyota production system, and has been adapted to Magna Donnelly’s needs. Magna Donnelly finished its implementation in the European facilities with the expansion of its Slovakian facility in May 2007, after work began in late 2006. The plant extension has doubled the capacity of the facility, and now everything has to be set up in line with the MAFACT system. This system has been applied to all of the company’s plants in Europe and Africa. The next step is to introduce this into the operations in China. The Magna Donnelly China manufacturing capabilities will be developed next year. The company has three plants in China, with a very strong customer base and demand, so the facilities desperately need to be expanded.”
The main challenge Magna Donnelly faces is bringing its new products into the market. Magna Donnelly’s goal is to be market leader in each product line. Expansion in operations is necessary as the company continues to develop new products and innovations. Olaf describes Magna Donnelly’s future plans: “The company’s mission is to be the market leader in the industry, especially in the comfort and security sectors. Magna Donnelly strives to be the supplier of choice within the automotive industry.”
Products: Smart systems for the automotive industry
Employees: 7400 worldwide 3500 in Europe