Issue 114 March 2015
Drive for life
The GWB brand of industrial driveshafts from Spicer Gelenkwellenbau is recognised across the world
Spicer Gelenkwellenbau is part of Dana, and for almost seven decades it has focused on the sales, engineering, manufacturing, distribution and service of heavy driveshafts for industrial applications under the brand name GWB. Hubert Lepoudre, MD of Spicer Gelenkwellenbau, explained that the company’s facility in Altenessen, Germany has worldwide sales and engineering responsibilities, but still performs the bulk of its machining and assembly of driveshafts in Germany. “The core of our manufacturing capabilities remain German,” he confirmed. “With a material content below 50 per cent of the COM, it is a fairly vertical integrated plant that does both machining and assembly. In-house we machine our split design yokes, complete journal crosses, and length compensations on dedicated machines. Machining and assembly, welding, balancing and painting (every desired colour or paint specification) are all undertaken with German craftsmanship under a lean philosophy.
“Furthermore, a focus on continuously reducing waste in the process and on avoiding stagnation results in a top quality product with shorter lead times. We can proudly say that we are successfully implementing automotive lean thinking, in a low volume and project environment.”
Hubert also highlighted that alongside the manufacture of driveshafts, Spicer Gelenkwellenbau offers inspection on site everywhere in the world with GWB engineering capabilities, as well as shaft repairs, which are undertaken in its service workshops or the workshop of a certified distributor with original GWB parts. “Over the past years we have strengthened this position to deliver aftersales service with genuine GWB knowledge from this location, as well as having a manufacturing and service site in China,” he said. “But this is not the end of our value proposition. We want to expand our support service towards preventative services, and even play our role in further development of smart monitoring, to enhance predictive services.”
One of the strongest foundations of Spicer Gelenkwellenbau is the excellent market reputation of the GWB industrial driveshaft, which can be considered a best buy when looking at total cost of ownership. It is this product, in combination with added value services that really creates such an attractive market proposition.
“GWB does not only deliver a standard driveshaft,” said Hubert. “We pride ourselves in offering best solutions for the customer, based on our in-depth knowledge of the applications in which the driveshafts operate. We are the original developer of the split eye design, which facilitates assembly and disassembly of the knuckles. Our service free journal crosses dramatically reduce the intervals between lubrication, thus further reducing the cost of ownership for the end user. Our driveshafts are designed for infinite life, not just on paper, but also in genuine working situations.”
GWB also continues to strengthen its global presence by closely supporting and co-operating with a number of approved first class valueadded distributors that can deliver parts and local service. These include GKN, MSI, JP and DLS.
Given this overall dedication to excellence across the board it is no surprise that customers keep returning to the GWB brand. “Our clients value a robust solution, that is German engineered towards the application and with the guaranteed quality that comes with GWB,” said Hubert. “They are supported by a vast network of trained and certified value added distributors who are close to the customer, and this means that customers can focus on the production process, knowing that GWB will support them with a product that assures the best cost of life for his installation.”
Going forward into the New Year, the GWB brand looks set to remain at the forefront of the industry. “Markets are not expected to have a spectacular growth over the next couple of years, but GWB is well equipped to continue to position itself as a market leader in its territories, as well as continue to expand its product and service offering, reduce its lead times and being a customer oriented solution provider,” said Hubert.
These plans are reinforced by the skills and support of a very successful parent company – Dana. “We belong to the Off-Highway division of Dana,” added Hubert. “Being part of a multinational like Dana is an advantage for a 170 people plant, playing in a global environment. Given the fact that Dana believes in ‘local ownership’, we still fully own our strategy and future, and maintain our agility to allow us to quickly react in the market.
“Dana however brings to us a lot of processes that we independently could not roll out. They bring us experienced support in lean manufacturing (with access to professional lean tools, and specialists that support us with subject matter expertise to drive continuous improvement), HR processes, IT, program management, VA/VE and so on.”
He concluded: “Dana gives us access to the best engineering resources in an innovation oriented multinational. The sourcing knowledge and combined sourcing purchasing power, gives us a competitive advantage, and the global presence gives us access to markets in regions where we were not active in before.”
Products: Industrial driveshafts
Sites: Several, globally
Employees: 150 in Germany, 600 worldwide