Altenberge, 30 July 2014 – Schmitz Cargobull has invested more than €30 million in its main plant in Altenberge in the last business year alone to establish a completely new I-beam production line. „The beam is cold formed from a blank without a welding seam“, explains Chairman of the Board, Ulrich Schümer, at the press conference in advance of the IAA Show 2014. Series production on the line will start in Altenberge at the end of July and, parallel to this, the plant in Wuhan will shortly commence series production.
The market leader continued its strong growth during the business year 2013/2014: „The number of trailers and rigid bodies delivered rose to 45,300 units. Turnover also rose by 7.5% to €1.625 billion.“
The new production technology for the I-beam in the chassis module largely replaces the normal welding process and creates significant advantages, both for the customer and within the production process. Material stress which comes about as a result of the heat generated by welding can be prevented. „The single-piece l-beams increase both quality and precision,“ points out Board member for Research, Roland Klement. Using bolted technology which has proven itself over the course of many years, adjustments can be made to suit customer requirements relatively late in the production process.
Product range standardised: 20 types of beam instead of 280
As part of the introduction of the new process the development team has also further reduced the complete range of variants. „Approximately 20 l-beams manufactured using the rolling process replace approximately 280 welded variants used previously,“ explains Mr. Klement. Both the old and the new production lines will initially run parallel to each other, but by the end of 2014 the plan is to manufacture up to 75% of the l-beams using the new cold forming process.
Latest I-beam technology also in China
Schmitz Cargobull has invested around €10 million in the independent development of the new technology. Once this technological advantage had been achieved it was clear that these modern production processes would also be put to use at the new Wuhan plant in China. „The equipment required is unprecedented on this scale. It was developed and manufactured to identical designs,“ says Board Member, Andreas Schmitz, who has lived in China since August 2013 and is coordinating setting up the production facilities along with the supplier and sales network in country. Since the foundation stone for the new plant was laid in the Chinese city of Wuhan in the autumn of 2013, preparatory work has been running at top speed. The factory building has been in place since the end of June 2014 and the initial pre-series production will start in August 2014. At the same time, suppliers and production workers are being trained and prepared for the start of series production in September 2014. The aim is to deliver the first 500 trailers to customers from the Chinese production facility in this year –only two years after signing of the joint venture agreement with the Dongfeng Motor Group in November 2012. The detailed preparatory work has paid off, given the complexity of the undertaking. „We want to take advantage of the lead that we have gained over other competitors in Europe and America so that we may quickly take on a leading role in the rapidly-developing Chinese trailer market,“ reports Schmitz.
Purpose: 10% market share in China
Both partners will invest a total of €100 million in Wuhan. Between 175,000 and 200,000 semi-trailers are registered annually in the trailer market in which Schmitz Cargobull is competing. By 2018/2019 the company aims to achieve a market share of 10%. „The trailers have to be significantly more robust than those for the European market. That is why we have developed a completely new product,“ Schmitz explains. Over the middle term these vehicles will also be offered in neighbouring markets, such as Mongolia. When working at full capacity, up to 40,000 units per year can be manufactured at the plant in Wuhan.
Number of company employees increases
After the increase in sales in the business year 2013/2014 from 40,616 to 45,113 units (an 11% gain), the Chairman of the Board, Ulrich Schümer, expects further growth. In the current business year we are aiming for a turnover of around €1.8 billion and a production volume of around 47,500 units. „Our clear goal is to use the recovery of the markets in Southern and Western Europe to strengthen and further expand our leadership in terms of the market and technology,“ says Schümer. The employee numbers at the German plants are also benefitting from the recovery in the markets. In Gotha 110 new jobs have already been created in steel body production. At the end of the previous business year the number of employees (including temporary employees) totalled 5,093, and this will further increase as a result of the expected rise in sales.