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We call it precision work

Developing the ideal material

(Text: Judy Born, photos: Max Lautenschläger)

Five years ago, when FlammMotec GmbH competed for a contract from a renowned German car manufacturer, the supplier was faced with a major challenge: None of the tested materials on the market were capable of meeting the component requirements specified by the OEM in the long term. “We were unable to use a normal grade to produce the required component in a satisfactory way,” says Frank Reichmann, Purchasing Manager at FlammMotec’s Nauen location near Berlin.

The material had to meet strict requirements. It had to have a very narrow thickness tolerance and support welding using all standard processes. And it had to offer lightweight construction potential and uniform mechanical properties across the entire length of the coll. Word of this spread to Ralf Schumann, a sales employee at thyssenkrupp Materials Processing Europe (MPE) in Radebeul, where FlammMotec obtains many of the raw materials it uses to manufacture automobile components. What’s more, the specialist in stamped and drawn parts is supplied by the Service Center of thyssenkrupp Materials Processing Europe in Krefeld, as well as by the Steel division.

We work together to figure out what we can optimize when manufacturing the material, but we also try to identify aspects of the customer’s process that could be improved.

Achim Peuster, Technical Customer Adviser, Sales Industry
Made in Nauen: cross beams arranged in rows.
Made in Nauen: cross beams arranged in rows.

Together with Achim Peuster, a technical customer adviser at Steel, Schumann organized a meeting at FlammMotec to learn about the company’s production difficulties first hand. “That’s part of our service offer,” says Peuster. “We work together to figure out what we can optimize when manufacturing the material, but we also try to identify aspects of the customer’s process that could be improved.”

One important help was the detailed documentation that FlammMotec was able to present to the experts from thyssenkrupp. “We recorded and commented on each step in production for all the steel grades we tested,” says Managing Director Dirk Ermster. “What was good or bad to process and where inaccuracies arose.” This made it possible to check what could be improved in the technical department during manufacture. In the course of development it became clear that the component could only be manufactured using a special type of product such as scalur®.

Continuity pays off

A powerful team (left to right): Ralf Schumann (MPE Radebeul), Frank Reichmann, Dirk Ermster (both FlammMotec), and Achim Peuster (thyssenkrupp Steel).

For Frank Reichmann, the material is a godsend, because the automobile manufacturer’s production tolerances are minimal, and that is precisely what the product delivers. “On the one hand, we need a certain thickness tolerance for processing, and on the other, the OEM stipulates that it be as low as possible to rule out process fluctuations.

The only product that supports the narrow tolerances we need for the job is scalur®.” The material is certainly no off-the-rack product and cannot be compared to normal grades. That has its price. “scalur® meets the highest standards and was even modified by thyssenkrupp especially for our purposes,” says Reichmann. The purchasing manager believes that continuity in internal production is worth it.

This success can be attributed in part to the intensive consultation provided by thyssenkrupp Materials Processing Europe in Radebeul. For roughly five years, the Steel Service Center has been much more than just a slit strip supplier or a materials controller. In the words of Reichmann, “Given the quantities we purchase as a mid-sized company, we’re relatively small potatoes. But Mr. Schumann and his colleagues represent us in the thyssenkrupp Group, especially when there are special requests. Mr. Schumann knows who he has to approach at the factory and what the development options are.” For Managing Director Dirk Ermster, the high level of process reliability achieved by his company is the deciding factor in this joint development.

Forming, installing, machining

FlammMotec GmbH in Nauen is a class A supplier for the automotive, household appliance, and electronics industry. It manufactures safety parts and components from high-strength materials for lightweight construction, sandwich elements on large-scale presses, and assembly modules.

The company is part of the FlammGruppe, a global player that also produces components for the aviation industry, traffic and railway technology, and solar technology at its eight locations.

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