Innovation in the construction and agricultural industries is a key factor for business growth, as technology becomes more advanced and the pressure to produce quicker, more efficient and more environmentally friendly vehicles and machinery increases.
GKN OffHighway prides itself in designing and producing high-quality engineered solutions and key to this is investment in research and development, training and people, and a clear understanding of what its customers and the market needs. By pioneering processes such as lean enterprise, and involving its engineers at every stage of the design and production process, from concept to protoypes to volume production, GKN OffHighway works in partnership globally with its customers to ensure that solutions are timely, innovative and above all, exceed what is required by major OEMs.
Martyn Vaughan, chief executive of GKN OffHighway, comments: “GKN OffHighway has grown consistently over the past five years and works with leading construction and agricultural OEMs. Key to this growth is the strong partnerships we have formed with our customers, working with them to develop products and solutions that are not only right for our customers’ businesses, but are also in line with market development and demand.
“That said, we know it’s also important to think beyond the here and now and to work with our partners on long term strategic plans. We develop ahead of today to prepare for changes in industry requirements, which is why GKN OffHighway places a huge value on research and development.
“Each of our businesses – Wheels, Axles and Walterscheid – is a market leader. Our experience in this sector together with a strong brand and our commitment to our customers and meeting their requirements, helps us maintain our status as market leaders while also working on developing and implementing solutions for tomorrow’s construction and agricultural needs.”
Martyn continues: “We’re very excited that GKN OffHighway has developed a unique range of solutions to offer its customers and are demonstrating our commitment as one company to producing the most innovative products for the market.”
GKN OffHighway supplies a range of product components and solutions to all offhighway industries such as agriculture, forestry, construction and mining. Major customers include John Deere, AGCO, CNH, Claas, Caterpillar, Volvo and Komatsu. GKN OffHigway currently employs 2600 people across 20 global facilities in the UK, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Italy, the US and China with joint ventures in Australia, Brazil, Turkey and Japan.
It recently acquired a presence in China, following the £9 million acquisition of the Liuzhou Steel Rim Factory in Liuzhou City in Southern China, cementing GKN OffHighway’s global reach and broad product range. The official opening of GKN Wheels Liuzhou marked the end of a busy year for GKN OffHighway’s strategic growth plans, having strengthened its capabilities via a number of acquisitions during 2006.
Amongst these were the $50 million acquisition of Rockford Powertrain, based in Illinois in the US, a market leading producer of high-speed driveshafts for the construction and mining equipment sectors; QDS Henschen, also in the US; Swedish hydraulics company Hytecomp, to strengthen its position in the Scandinavian market; as well as the opening of new facilities in Brazil and Shanghai.
Added to these are the acquisition of Cramer, a manufacturer and distributor of hitches for agricultural, commercial and earth moving vehicles; and double universal joint business, Bruneck, which became part of GKN OffHighway on 1 January 2007. Martyn Vaughan comments: “The busy year of acquisition activity demonstrates GKN OffHighway’s commitment to investing in the business to ensure we maintain our status as a global market leader.”
GKN Wheels’ manufacturing facilities in the UK, Denmark, Italy, the US and, most recently, China, engineer and supply the latest in offhighway wheel technology to a diverse worldwide customer base. The extensive range includes single and multipiece adjustable wheels for tractors, combine harvesters, trailer loaders and lift trucks for the agricultural industry, earthmovers, diggers, dumpers, fork-lift trucks and mobile cranes for the construction industry.
GKN Wheels has a proud heritage of wheel making, backed with multi-million pound investments in multi-piece wheel manufacturing facilities, pressing processes and painting systems. With rim testing centres in Europe and North America, GKN has the largest and most complex testing services to provide up to minute on-site fatigue testing. One of its latest products is the ‘JMJ’ rim wheel – a brand new technology for the OffHighway market – was featured at Bauma 2007.
GKN Axles produces axles and suspensions for agricultural machinery and rubber torsion axles and springs for car trailers and many other applications. With plants in Italy, Spain and the US, the company achieved a turnover of more than 50 million euros in 2006. Alongside the other businesses in GKN OffHighway, GKN Axles is implementing concepts such as lean enterprise to streamline the production process, by creating a common supply chain and global sales organisation, as well as investing in technology and new product development.
GKN Axles products are distributed all over the world. In 2006 over 500,000 components were sold from America to Australia, Europe and Africa. GKN Axles’ flagship product, the steel hub of the agricultural axle produced by a 4000-tonne press and DURA-FLEX, the first patented rubber torsion system, has demonstrated its durability all over the world and is used in applications as diverse as fitness, healthcare and playground equipment, industrial equipment as well as construction and transport trailers.
Walterscheid is a name synonymous with innovative engineering for the construction and agricultural industries. Since it was established in 1919, it has become the world’s leading supplier of agritechnical driveline and attachment systems. Along with its sister companies within the GKN OffHighway business, it has built its reputation by developing innovative products designed to help its customers meet increasingly higher standards of efficiency.
In 2006, it launched its ICVD (Integrated Continuously Variable Drive) system for selfpropelled agricultural and construction machinery, making it possible to drive through the entire speed range without interrupting the tractive effort. In addition to this, the ICVD optimises the efficiency of the transmission and reduces fuel consumption, as well as substantially reducing noise emissions.
GKN OffHighway has built its reputation on engineered solutions produced and delivered by a highly experienced team who are able to respond to the ever-increasing demands of modern vehicle design, and this looks set to continue. It has expertise in increasingly complex technologies and always aims to be at the forefront of innovative new products, by working in partnership with its customers, from concept to reality.
Products: Designing & producing engineered solutions
Sites: Across Europe, the US and China