Volvo Car Body Components
in Olofström, Sweden, has ordered two new multi-layer durnaces from AP&T
for the production of press hardened automotive components. Set to be installed this summer, they will replace an existing furnace and will not only increase production capacity and flexibility, but also reduce maintenance requirements and energy consumption.
Krister Pettersson, key account manager at AP&T, said: “The order is an important milestone that coincides with furnace systems now becoming a separate business area within AP&T. We are proud to have won the trust as a One Responsible Partner to once again work closely with Volvo in Olofström. The production line runs pretty much round the clock, which poses extremely tough demands on the performance and availability of the equipment.”
For Volvo Car Body Components, the investment gives it a better platform to meet the need for press-hardened sheet metal parts, that contribute to reduced weight and greater passenger safety in the event of an accident in the various Volvo car models.
The new multi-layer furnaces will be integrated into one of the existing press hardening lines that AP&T delivered to Volvo in Olofström in 2015/2016. AP&T was responsible for all integrated equipment in that order, except for the actual furnaces.
Jonas Claesson, project manager and maintenance engineer at Volvo Cars Body Components, said: “The investment increases our furnace capacity, which offers the opportunity to manufacture larger volumes and gives us greater flexibility in production. We are also gaining a more energy-efficient process at the same time, that contributes to more sustainable production.”
The new furnaces, which are the third generation of multi-layer furnaces from AP&T, feature many improvements over earlier versions.
Pär Mickos, product manager Furnace Systems at AP&T, said: “Our next-generation of furnaces has a very stable design and are simple to maintain. For example, the heating elements can be replaced more quickly, which means shorter downtime and many more hours of valuable production time. The furnaces are also more energy efficient — they require lower installed output and have smaller heat losses.”
The multi-layer design also has obvious fundamental advantages compared with traditional roller hearth furnaces. The compact format has a much smaller footprint. Moreover, if the furnace was to suffer operational interruptions, production does not have to be completely halted.
As a rule, turning off one of the furnace layers is sufficient, and the other layers can continue to be used as normal. Each chamber is equipped with dew point control, which also ensures every sheet meets customer specifications.
As part of the preparatory work, the AP&T and Volvo teams have worked closely together to ensure that the new furnaces can be integrated with other equipment in an optimal way. To assure high availability, the order includes an extended warranty and servicing.
Mr Claesson concluded: “Cooperation with AP&T has worked really well. Naturally, it is an advantage to work with the same partner that developed and installed the actual production line. The new furnaces provide us with a secure solution that meets our future needs.”