In January 2015, AP&T delivered a complete production line for press hardening to Great Wall Motors – China’s seventh largest car manufacturer. AP&T has previously supplied several subcontractors in the Chinese automotive industry with press hardening equipment, but this was the first delivery directly to a car manufacturer in China. And GWM is already planning to invest in additional press hardening lines.
“That China’s largest manufacturer of SUVs and pickups is entering the press hardening niche with us is a big step for our company”, says Jack Wang, China Area Sales Manager at AP&T.
The delivery will comprise a turnkey line: A DST destacker for feeding blanks into the furnace, a roller hearth furnace for heating the material, two SpeedFeeders for feeding into and out of the press and a 800 metric ton ODEN press. The system also includes a forming tool and nitrogen gas generator and cooling equipment for the process.
Furthermore, the delivery includes integration and process control as well as training for both operators and maintenance personnel.
The line, which is the GWM group’s first press hardening line, was installed in a new plant in Xushui Baoding, which is located approximately 200 kilometers south of Beijing. The line is currently used to produce A-pillars and B-pillars, but it will also produce other components in the future. At present the components are used for the Haval H2 and H9 SUV models.
“We regard press hardening technology as a way to meet the constantly growing demands from the automotive industry’s customers for safety and fuel efficiency. Basically all of the models we manufacture will eventually have press hardened parts,” says Zhen Quanchang, who is the equipment division manager at Great Wall Motors.
The choice of supplier was not a coincidence. AP&T already supplies several European car manufacturers such as Fiat and Volkswagen.
“AP&T is one of the market’s most mature suppliers of press hardening technology with many years of product development under its belt. Our cooperation with AP&T gives us a very strong sense of security,” says Zhen Quanchang.
The installation and start-up were completed in January 2015.
“The process has been smooth from order to production start-up, which says a lot about AP&T’s know-how and experience. AP&T is not just a machinery supplier; rather, we have had very technical discussions throughout the entire process on everything from selection of materials to performance requirements in the end product. Cooperation also means we can continue developing the installation as new materials and methods arise,” says Zhen Quanchang.
The press hardening line was the first thing to be installed in the new production plant in Baoding, where the headquarters are also located. At present there are also five lines for cold forming, and 500 people are employed.
Demand in the group for parts manufactured in the line from AP&T is already greater than capacity. Consequently, Great Wall Motors is getting ready for the next stage, which will comprise an additional three lines for press hardening. A third stage is also being planned where construction has already started.
Facts: Great Wall Motors Company Limited
GWM is China’s seventh largest vehicle manufacturer, with annual production of over 675,000 vehicles. The company was founded in 1984, and in 2003 it became the first privately owned car manufacturer in China to be listed on the stock exchange.
In the beginning, GWM only manufactured pickups, and it became the largest manufacturer in the niche in 1998. The company has maintained that position ever since. GWM has been China’s largest manufacturer of SUVs for 10 years. The Haval H SUV series was launched in 2010, and is currently the most common SUV in China. GWM also manufactures regular passenger cars, and is ranked among the ten largest manufacturers in the area.
The lion’s share of production is for the domestic market, but the company was one of the first Chinese car manufacturers to begin marketing vehicles abroad. The cars are currently sold on all continents.
GWM has four complete production plants. There are also about ten assembly plants around the world. The group has a total of 60,000 employees.