Brake lines from TI Automotive allow automotive manufacturers to keep things safe.
(Text: Christiane Wild-Raith, Images: Martin Wagenhan)
Most people associate Heidelberg with its world-famous castle and picturesque old town that exemplify German Romanticism. Others may think about the city’s famous university – the oldest in the country. Very few associate the city with car parts. However, the majority of vehicles in the world feature at least one component that was manufactured in Heidelberg, which lies on the Neckar river.
TI Automotive’s production facility in Heidelberg’s industrial area looks like an ordinary factory from the outside. There isn’t much to suggest that it is the birthplace of vehicle parts that keep drivers safe all over the world.
But this is where TI Automotive manufactures brake lines that are supplied to all major automotive manufacturers. The company’s market share in Europe is around 60 percent.
The company has a long tradition dating back to 1922, when Harry Bundy founded Bundy Corporation in Detroit, Michigan – also known as ‘Motor City.’ His company made automotive history just a few years later when it became the fuel pipe supplier for Henry Ford’s first production vehicle. In 1957, the company inaugurated its first German location in Heidelberg and changed its name to TI Group Automotive Systems in the late 1990s.
‘Fluid thinking.’ That’s the motto of the automobile supplier.
The automotive supplier’s portfolio comprises powertrain systems, air conditioning fluid systems, pump and module systems, fuel tank systems, and fluid supply systems, which include the brake lines. “Our business is built on experience, reliability, and trust,” says Stefan Pscheidl, Purchasing Manager for TI Automotive Europe. His customers need to be able to rely on the high quality of his products. “And we in turn need to be able to fully rely on our suppliers.” TI Automotive has a very special relationship with thyssenkrupp’s Steel division. The steel manufacturer has been supplying TI Automotive with hot and cold strip for over 30 years. “We have developed a product specifically for this customer,” says Barbara Dornbusch, Key Account Manager for cold rollers.
thyssenkrupp Steel sends pickled hot strip to TI Automotive in Liège, Belgium, from the south of Duisburg, Germany. This hot strip is particularly thin, with a width of 700 to 718 millimeters, making it a very special product indeed. “We have fully focused on the customer’s requirements,” says Barbara Dornbusch. thyssenkrupp Steel keeps enough material in stock, which in turn allows TI Automotive to keep its stock volume in Liège at a bare minimum. “This demonstrates the success of our great collaboration,” says Stefan Pscheidl. Furthermore, the distance between Liège and Duisburg is only 200 kilometers, and this proximity makes it easier for the two companies to coordinate their collaboration.
There are several long-term contracts between the two companies, which allow the supplier to plan for the necessary capacity well and ahead of time. This then means the customer can rely on a dependable supply of the product in consistent volumes. “The quality of the material is absolutely crucial for us,” says Pscheidl. “This is why thyssenkrupp falls under our list of ‘preferred suppliers'."
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