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Metalbages hidroacero,s.a.-Active in Europe and South America

Mb hidroacero and mb navarra belong to the Metalbages Group, a family-owned company,founded in 1971.Metalbages began early on to specialize in structural components for the automobile industry. After joining with the Gestamp Group,also a Spanish company,the consolidated Gestamp-mb Group employs more than 3,000 people in a total of 24 production facilities. The main focus of this highly regarded automotive supplier is Europe and South America

State-of-the-Art Hydroforming

A Greenfield Facility in Spain

New Hydroforming Culture at mb hidroacero,s.a.

Technology always changes life and the social environment.In the ame way, the continuing development of hydroforming has led to whole new fields in industry and new processing methods.Innovation blazes trails that only a short time ago could not have been imagined.These revolutionary trends also influence communications among suppliers of manufacturing systems,component suppliers and the automakers. They have all joined together to form a dynamic technological cooperative, one with its own unique forms of interaction.A visit to one of the most important automotive supplier plants in Spain shows how this new hydroforming “culture ”can propel a supplier to leadership in its market.

The employees at mb hidroacero in the northern Spanish town of Pamplona are remarkably young. None more so than the plant manager. Managing an entire plant at age 26 is by no means common in Spain. Arturo Ruiz and his young, motivated team fit perfectly into the brand new plant with its gleaming technology and the two new hydrofor-ming production lines. Many of the technicians and engineers "grew up" with the plant constructed at the edge of the city of Pamplona. They remember when the production facility was just steel frame-work. Seeing the two lines in full production, it is difficult to believe that only two years ago the site was nothing more than a vast empty space sur-rounded by numerous other industrial complexes. In the meantime, if the Spaniards want to achieve just-in-time delivery of the components to their colleagues at Opel Zaragoza (about two hours away by car), then these lines not only have to run, they have to run at full capacity.

Turnkey responsibility for the fully automated production line

Up to now, mb hidroacero has met nearly all its deadlines. A fast-paced chronology documents the achievements so far. In May of 1998 Schuler Hydroforming received the request for quotation for the manufacture of two automotive components. The U-shaped engine cradle and the instrument panel beam (IP beam) for the new Opel Corsa were to undergo feasibility studies using tube hydro-forming as the manufacturing method. The request for quotation to Schuler was not unexpected since the Spaniards already knew about the successful completion of a similar project at the GM/Opel plant in Bochum, Germany. In the case of Pamplona, Schuler was to quote Final product: engine cradles. Bending Pre-forming Lubrication Hydroforming Hole monitoring Washing Just-in-time delivery to Opel Zaragoza Raw tube not only the feasibility studies but also turnkey responsibility for two fully automated lines. The quotation was to include complete planning and design of the entire production system including bending machines, lubrication systems, industrial robots, pre-forming press, hydroforming presses, quality assurance systems, part washers, unloading systems and the control system to monitor all of these processes. This was not an unusual request for Schuler, a company long known as a turnkey supplier of systems. A year-and-a-half later the Pamplona project had reached the point of manufacturing the first pre-production parts, first manually and then with full automation.

Two international companies,one language

A communications culture between the two partners was formed early on in the planning stages. In the course of the project the contours of this culture became clearer: the first goal was to under-stand one another clearly – and this was not always easy. On the one side there were the enormous pressures on suppliers to the automobile industry for price and quality. On the other side: the demands on a company that prides itself on delivering solutions to the customer’s most challenging problems to find just the right solution using a new technology. At first glance, these two positions are not so easy to reconcile. Mutual discussions quickly showed, however,

point of manufacturing the first preproduction parts, first manually and then with full automation. hidroacero,s.a.and mb navarra,s.a.,both affiliates of the Gestamp Group,bears the responsibility for the intro- new and different. The components resulting from these innovations become “our ”products and differentiate us from the competition. What part does hydroforming technology play within the Metalbages companies?

The number of automotive components manufactured by hydroforming has grown steadily.How do you view this development? that the “culture gap” would be successfully bridged. The reason: Each side began to understand more and more of the language of the other and finally discussions were conducted in just one language:

“Let’s talk hydroforming!”

The results are clear.

If you would like to read the full report, please dowmload the followinh pdf file:



last update: 2001-01-11 21:13
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