Today, plastics processing in the automotive market has allowed us to make great strides, but it presents us with new challenges and goals as well. Do you agree?
I would like to recall some of the automotive pillars, and understand if I am really the only one able to hear the sound of a soul, roaring behind a “simple” piece of plastic.
In our world, the automotive one, which is complex and ever changing, you are aware of two leading forces.
Two forces that right now are driving the market and our every day choices, mine and yours.
I’m talking about innovation and cost cutting.
INNOVATION. Bringing novelties into the old system, for an increasingly dynamic and high evolution.
What does the word “innovation” remind you?
I think about speed, circuits, asphalt marked by state of the art- tires, I think about light fairing and engines roaring.
Innovation, in fact, is synonymous with improvement, dynamism and efficiency.
Main features for those who work in extremely niche sectors, like Formula 1, rallies or even supercars. Who deals with these cars must move beyond the limits of exactitude, you know that.
Every millimeter counts, everything is led to exasperation, because you cannot afford any mistake.
Improvement is directly proportional to the investment in performing technologies. For this reason, in a field where we run at 300 km/h, innovation is essential.
Who doesn’t invest is lagging behind, throws the race; am I wrong?
We talk about investment in money, staff, time and resources.
The engineers in this field often operate on more than 30,000 car-design adjustments, and the most effective changes only, win. The most radical innovation is implemented and becomes the new starting level for further changes.
For those who, like you and me, his undisputed reign is among engines, gears, and car components, the other key word is: cost-cutting.
COST-CUTTING. THE WATCHWORD FOR MORE LIVABLE COMPANIES
As you already know, this is the crucial approach of mass-market.
Cost cutting means many things. It means that when you enter our factories you see few selected, highly specialized and trained people.
It means that these people work on few increasingly compact machinery, able to set up more components in one step only.
Cost cutting means that the same machinery works to maintain sustainable production, using resources to the bare essentials, in order to reduce pollution.
You know very well that for those in the automotive world, cost cutting is a main goal.
It is a primary objective for more livable companies; simpler and more prepared to embrace the change we talked about before.
Then the challenges come.
Nowadays the automotive industry takes on two major challenges. I refer to lightening car and plastic decoration goals.
LIGHTENING CAR. COST CUTTING AND QUALITY INCREASING
It is a scientific fact: the higher the weight of a car component, the higher is its cost increase. And we just said that in our market the primary goal is cost cutting… it makes sense, right?
Everything we are doing has been heading in this direction; lighten the car components to the hilt, because this is also innovation. Find the perfect blend between lightness and performance, without sacrificing quality!
SAPA, for example, is fully dedicated to this aspect: it tries to operate on each component’s weight, spending less but investing more on quality. The result is a more innovative, less expensive product, without sacrificing quality, indeed!
We propose a qualitatively superior solution, at lower costs.
PLASTIC DECORATION. AN AUTOMATION THAT SET THE SIGHTS HIGH FOR IMPROVING PRODUCTION PROCESS IN ALL ITS ASPECTS
At this stage the artistry takes shape. In my opinion, this is one of the most creative aspects in our field.
In my experience I can tell you that looking the engineers working on plastic decoration it is like witnessing a chess game between real experts.
When engineers operate on a patent, precisely related to this type of plastic processing, they study everything by the inch, with extreme precision. Every move is calculated, and I almost see the smoke shoot out of their ears.
It is incredible how, in the automotive field, this aspect is managed with extreme attention to detail.
Let me write of my experience, as it is my reality, the one which I face every day, in SAPA we are really trying to bring automation and processes to a higher level.
One of the latest achievements we gained through plastic decoration was to manage saddling the worldwide largest component in the world, the rear pillar of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, showed below.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio rear pillar, the worldwide largest component, fully automatically saddled by SAPA
Our Engineers had been working for months on this procedure, until they were able to cover the entire component in only one step. Working on plastic decoration brings to extraordinary outcome, right?
Do you ever get familiar with this feeling? Entering a luxury, state- of-the-art car, it could be a Lamborghini, you sit, smell the leather seat’s scent and you feel like on an armchair… then you suddenly get into the engineer’s shoes, and begin to think about the car components.
To the seat you’re sitting on, for example. And you realize that behind the comfort and luxury of that seat, actually there is nothing but coated plastic.
But we are talking about the most developed, most studied and most designed plastic ever.
This fact represents the great power of this material. If handled with care and knowledge it can originate such things, elegant objects built with focus on costs and sustainability, and innovation as well.
This is just one example, among many others of day-to-day practice, which you and I experience every day, and who works in the automotive world do as well.
In a short while we shall have the pleasure to share with you the technical report related to our work on Stelvio pillar.
We have worked long and hard on it, to bring the benefits of our experience to all those who are aiming for excellence, innovation and sustainability.
And if you can see yourself in this concept, if you don’t see only plastic in a piece of plastic, and if you also want to bring your automation technology up towards a higher level, we would be happy to cooperate with you.