Issue Issue 2 2008
EBP drives the market
The pace at which the modern automotive industry moves means that model ranges are becoming increasingly extensive and changing more frequently.
And as improved production technology increases the lifespan of automobiles, manufacturers are finding new challenges in supplying spare parts to the aftermarket long after series production has ended. The continued production of such parts can cause serious disruption to car manufacturers’ series production of new vehicles, and result in severe problems to their overall processes.
Addressing this challenge, EBP Olofstrom provides a unique service to many of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers, offering a niche-volume production concept for original body panels and parts specifically for the aftermarket. Taking complete responsibility for the entire process – including stamping, assembling, coating, packing and distribution in branded packaging – EBP’s solution allows car manufacturers to save money and efficiently free capacity to concentrate on new car production.
Henrik Hakansson, president at EBP elaborates: “We produce a broad range of spare and aftermarket products for the automotive and truck industries, including closures, tailgates, doors, bonnets and various large sized, high-quality pressed parts. We do not develop any new products ourselves, but simply manufacture components for many of the major automotive developers based in Europe, including Volvo, Audi, Honda, Aston Martin, Volvo Trucks and Ford.”
The company has been active for just over ten years, and Henrik, who was appointed president around two years ago, believes it has changed significantly in this time: “EBP was initially created as a spin-off of Volvo in 1996,” he explains. “Today we have around 210 employees operating in modern production facilities that comprise of a state-of-theart press shop, assembly areas and equipment, and coating and packaging areas. Last year our turnover was roughly 35 million euros, which represents a significant growth of around 40 per cent. In the two years that I have been with the business there has been large improvements. We have developed so that we are able to offer competitive services at high quality for the spare parts market, whilst growing alongside our customers in order to meet their individual demands.”
The manufacture of spare parts demands the highest quality during the production phase, accordingly EBP’s manufacturing facility in Olofstrom is among the European elite for the manufacture of automotive body panels in short series. The company uses a totally mechanised, robot-operated production line, which integrates select parts of a customer’s processes to ensure consistent quality throughout production. Furthermore, the site uses numerically controlled methods to achieve the same levels of accuracy as those used by the world’s leading car manufacturers. At Olofstrom EBP offers the full range of manufacturing capabilities, including assembly, surface-treatment technology and branded packaging.
To minimise production costs the organisation uses a module-based robot assembly technique capable of running a number of processes simultaneously. The machinery takes only the necessary, model-specific equipment from a manufacturers’ series production, and gluing, clinching, welding, roller hemming and hemming, nut, and rivet units can be changed easily during production. By using only the necessary modelspecific series equipment EBP provides customers with a number of advantages. For example, transportation costs, lead times and costs can be significantly reduced, whilst production rates suffer no loss. In this way EBP has also moved into assisting its customers with series production by taking over products before they end their series production cycle. Their capacity to cope with these volumes allows the customer to release the products in a ‘larger window of opportunity’, making them more flexible in their need to produce the upcoming vehicles.
The company’s new press line, which was installed around two years ago, is one of the most modern, flexible and powerful in Europe: “The new press shop, which was inaugurated in 2005 and represents an investment of around ten million euros, includes six large presses with five-metre wide tables that use automated robot technology,” says Henrik. “Prior to this we had no automated systems and used single presses, so it has been a major upgrade at the site and has had a considerable effect on our overall manufacturing capability. To remain competitive, and to meet the ever increasing demands of our customers such upgrades to our facilities are vital.”
In addition to investing in production technology, Henrik explains that it is equally important to focus on the continued development of the company’s employees: “We have been looking at how we can grow in recent years, and one of the key points we have recognised is that for any successful and sustained growth an organisation needs the best people. In this sense we have been employing new staff in our production, logistics, quality, and technical areas to ensure that we have the strongest possible foundations in place for growth.”
The emphasis on quality during the production of spare parts makes it necessary for EBP to maintain a superior supply chain, which operates at a number of levels. “Most importantly we inherit parts of the supplier bases of our customers – we use some of the same suppliers as Honda, Audi and Volvo,” says Henrik. “In addition, we have our own suppliers for base products such as steel, aluminium, and other products. For example, when producing a door we would often manufacture the large inner and outer parts ourselves, but then buy in parts such as brackets and smaller metal components.”
The speed of development in the international automotive industry means that the service provided by EBP will play a vital role to many of the leading manufacturers for years to come. “It is very tough to be successful in the automotive industry, and I believe that the biggest challenge for us will be to stay focused on the demands of our individual clients to ensure that we can work with them in the best possible way. We aim to continue to improve our manufacturing capabilities and the efficiency of our overall operations, whilst continuously seeking the highest quality throughout our production. In this sense I believe that we can be a strong partner to our customers for the future,” Henrik concludes.
Products: Automotive body parts
Employees: Approx. 210