Terugblik Nederland als Partnerland in 2014. Wirtschafsreport in gesprek met Marco Siebert, directeur Internationale betrekkingen Hannover Messe.
Exclusief interview met Marc Siemering over Hannover Messe 2016.
Less paper = more production
Customised products, combined with a high degree of automation in the manufacturing process, is the formula for success of the company AVEK from Haarlem, the Netherlands. “We manufacture customised springs and therefore always endeavour to be directly involved in the engineering of the products concerned”, explains CEO Dennis Abels. Early involvement forms the basis of their corporate strategy. Fully automated production on the other hand enables them to achieve price levels that mean that some of their regular orders even come from customers based in China.
From sliding sunroofs to satellites, AVEK Haarlem manufactures products from wire and strip for an extremely broad range of applications. “For example, we manufacture springs that are used for sliding sunroofs at BMW, Porsche and Volkswagen”, says Abels. The company developed a particularly long spring for curtains in a car cabin, which has since conquered the market.
Springs in outer space
AVEK Haarlem’s springs have even made their way into outer space: they are helping to ensure that a satellite’s solar panels can be extended and retracted. “The challenge was to develop a product that could function just as reliably at -150°C as at 150°C. And we managed to do it”, the CEO points out. Another project is the “SECRID wallet”, where tiny springs hold an innovative wallet together. The design contains an ultra-thin aluminium Cardprotector, which protects modern credit and debit chip cards from any unauthorised access via radio waves.
Most of the company’s clients are suppliers. “We are a Tier Two supplier”, Abels points out. Almost half of the products are for the automotive industry. Other important sectors include aviation and aerospace, lighting systems, traffic engineering, mechanical engineering, and measurement and control technology.
After Benelux, Germany is their most important European market. “New business here has come mainly from word-of-mouth recommendations.” Most of AVEK’s overseas deliveries are made to customers in the USA and Mexico. “Every week we also process orders for Chinese customers and supply the products to the Far East.” As such, AVEK Haarlem is clearly successfully bucking the trend.
All products are designed specifically for each customer, and so standard springs are actually the exception. “We therefore rely on being involved early on and try to ensure that we are invited to participate in discussions in the engineering phase. The main problem is that we are often involved at too late a stage”, says Abels. Then special requirements need to be met at short notice. “Anything is possible, but it makes much more sense for us to be involved in the entire process right from the start.”
AVEK Haarlem processes various different materials such as strip, spring steel, rust-free spring steel, silicon, copper and bronze. “We purchase from renowned manufacturers and dealers as material quality is extremely important to us.”
Focus on automation
Industry 4.0 principles are evident in the high degree of production automation. “The product data that our customers provide is digitally processed. The rest is done by our machines”, says Abels. AVEK Haarlem is in no way ready to rest on its laurels though and wants to have set up a “paperless factory” by the middle of this year. As a result, the error rate should fall to 0.0. “Papers get lost and the chronological order can get all mixed up. But that should soon be a thing of the past.” The focus is squarely on further automation.
About AVEK Haarlem
The family-run company has over 50 years’ experience. “I am the third generation of my family to run the company. My grandfather began with a lathe back in 1966”, Abels reminisces. Since then we have developed into an international team consisting of 56 employees. A specific challenge that the company faces is the lack of new blood interested in engineering. The company will have to come up with some ideas to meet this challenge, according to the CEO, but one thing AVEK Haarlem has never lacked is creativity. And what early involvement means is no longer a secret…
Hall 4, Niederländische Gemeinschaftstand
Bild 1: Secrid cardholder
Bild 2: langeveermachine