Source: Haldex post

LANDSKRONA, Sweden — As a global supplier of brakes and suspension components, Haldex has sales operations around the world. But what may be less widely known is that much of the company’s manufacturing operations remain in Europe; so it has good cause to be considered a European brand.

For example, last year, although production of Generation 3/Generation 1 EBS brakes, and the ILAS+ and COLAS+ Duo and COLAS+ Single suspension systems moved out of Heidelberg, Germany, it restarted in a small town east of Budapest, Hungary – still comfortably within the European Union.

The transfer of production occurred during COVID lockdowns, says factory manager Balázs Keszey. And while the production machinery was dismantled in spring 2020 under the supervision of the manufacturers, then shipped to Hungary. The original plan to use their expertise in setting them up again was shelved with the health restrictions that prevented foreign travel.

What happened next at least dispelled any suspicions that the Hungarians were not as technologically sophisticated as their western neighbors. How did they do it? Keszey replies: “We had to solve the assembly problems ourselves,” he adds.

Since the factory began operations in 2004, its several hundred employees have made products using manual or semi-automatic production. In contrast, the Gen 3 line is a heavily automated system that includes testing and data management of performance of parts after each station. That data is handled by a database and software evaluates it and determines after each step whether the product fulfils the spec or not. He gives particular credit to local engineer Gergey Nord for setting up the automated Gen3 line, as well as Heidelberg’s former engineering leader Torstein Scheidt for (remote) assistance.

“We are focusing on automation competence build-up,” he adds, partly because this year the factory is gearing up to begin production of Haldex’s fourth-generation EBS product. That highly automated and digitalised line will be the first to be set up originally in Hungary. Serial production is set to begin at the end of the year.

And that’s not all, says the factory manager. He says: “Even for the older lines, we are planning a manufacturing execution system, an overall manufacturing support system to track and trace what’s happening in the factory and to measure KPIs [key performance indicators]. There will be digitalisation of data management, evaluation of information, and making it available online, to be able to react more quickly to deviations in production. This is the direction we’re going.”

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