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DEES keen on continuous R&D investment

Source:International Metalworking News for Asia June 2017

Date Published:6/13/2017 03:06:56 PM

Hydraulic press manufacturer SPC DEES Hydraulic was established in 1976 in Taiwan. 

The company has been present in China since 2000 and, in 2014, moved to a newly built factory in China, which is almost double the size of its previous factory there. It is also building a new factory in Taiwan. The automotive market is a key industry sector for the Taiwanese manufacturer.

The family-owned company has, over the last few years, focused on increasing its manufacturing flexibility, constructing global distribution networks, improving quality standards and reducing manufacturing costs as well as turn-around times. With a keen eye on continuous investment in research and development, it supplies customers such as BOSCH; Audi; Volkswagen; Mercedes-Benz; Volvo; HONDA; TOYOTA; BMW and more.

Derek Meng, Director of Operations, DEES China, spoke to INTERNATIONAL METALWORKING NEWS FOR ASIA (IMNA) and discussed its investments in stamping technology R&D and new factory developments.

Emphasising on stamping

DEES Hydraulic has long been committed to integrating new technologies and has successfully developed a closed loop, hydraulic, servo-controlled die spotting press. With micro-precision control and energy efficiency at the top of its R&D goals, the servo system’s fixed-flow control as the core technology used in the hydraulic spotting press, can further improve the precision of the conventional design or overcome the ball-screw’s wear and tear to reduce overall maintenance costs.

“The energy-efficient servo motor can save up to 30% energy. Adopting a pulse wave signal handwheel jog down for micro precision of 0.01mm can prevent damage when spotting the punch and die. The closed loop, servo-hydraulic system can reach high slide repeatability levels of +/- 0.02mm,” explained Meng.

Meng told IMNA that its key focus for hydraulic press technology development has been integrating servo motors and servo valves into its hydraulic presses.

“We are manufacturing more servo-controlled hydraulic presses for customers, at both our factories in Taiwan and China. We utilise servo technology to increase the production capacity of our hydraulic presses and have added accumulators to increase press speed (on tandem lines, for example. We hold a lot of stamping patents and have devoted a lot of time and effort to becoming a strong hydraulic press manufacturer and a reliable partner for our customers.

“We supply our press technology to all of the main Chinese automotive manufacturer OEMs as well as Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers (with tandem lines, for example). We have more than 200 customers in China. We also have agents around the world selling our products. Generally, from our Chinese factory, we ship 50-60 large capacity presses per year,” he confirmed.

Key sectors, such as electric car production within the automotive sector, have been especially profitable for DEES.

“The Chinese government has put in place policies, incentives and tax breaks to encourage electric car manufacturing. New assembly lines are being built and there is a strong push in this area,” explained Meng. “The volumes are fairly low (50-100,000 cars per year) so hydraulic presses are a better solution for this kind of production. We started supplying this market in 2014, but a lot of 2015 projects were pushed back to 2016 and we are seeing a resurgence of orders. We have at least ten tandem lines that need to be built for this market. For the Chinese electric car market, there are only two companies with official licenses to build these – we supply one of them (EVA),” he added.

As market demand in China has slowed, he told IMNA that many of his customers are turning away from cheaper machine tools and placing their focus on stability and quality. DEES, he feels, with its focus on continuous R&D, is ideally placed to meet these demands.

Business ventures

The press specialist has made a number of significant investments over the past few years, not least in R&D. In 2015, it started construction of a new factory in China in 2015, taking advantage of the slowdown in Chinese market demand to install a new MRP system, overhaul its production and refine its operations.

“It was an interesting time for us. We now have about 160 people in the 330,000 square foot Chinese factory. As well as the factory itself, we have made significant new investments in the machining centres, CNC lathes, warehouses and plant – in all, we spent about US$ 13 million. We are now implementing customised parts and use barcodes to track parts,” explained Derek Meng.

“I am still trying to refine our manufacturing process. Higher precision presses operate at a faster speed and higher quality. I need to separate us from other domestic manufacturers. I am not trying to significantly boost our target sales revenue by 30/40% - instead, I want to maintain our original goal by building better presses (reducing oil leakage and part change, for example). Small changes will make a massive difference to the press performance and the quality of the stamped parts,” he said.

This focus on quality is exemplified by the DEES approach to research and investment as well as product development. Essential product development encompasses a wide spectrum of activities from new product research, new component coordination, performance enhancement and cost reduction through manufacturing process re-design. Customer feedback is also solicited.

In 2014, it allocated an R&D budget of more than 10 per cent of its annual turnover to build a 2000-ton hydraulic press for the automotive industry with a massive bed size of 2.6 x 5m. This was not an order from a customer but DEES’s commitment to starting a continuous testing process to refine and develop its hydraulic press technology in-house before selling it to customers.

DEES is also building a new factory in Taiwan, where it has 75 employees. The 10,600 square metres factory which will be completed in 2017 is almost double the size of the previous factory to be able to produce 30-50 presses per year (from 10 to 3500 tons) in Taiwan.

Strategic and technical vision

Derek Meng outlined the company’s technical vision. “In terms of our technical focus, we want to spend more time developing the energy-efficient servo system. It is still new for the Asian market. This includes refining the technology to build better, faster presses,” he explained.

“Our focus is on three main stamping areas - servo motors, higher speed of the hydraulic press (we are trying to achieve more SPM) and higher productivity for presses, using accumulators for shorter strokes. Our customers prefer to have a faster output per minute (6-8 parts per minute) so we are working with customers on this.  Generally, customers want faster speed, greater control and more accuracy, as well as higher productivity. We also see a trend in the processing of higher strength, lightweight materials in the automotive industry,” he said.

Meeting market demands

“The most important issue for customers is always service. The automotive industry is so demanding that downtimes must be kept to a minimum. Preventative service and assistance is always needed. You need to be based in China to properly support and service customers in China, which is one of the reasons that we built our factory in China. In China, we have over 160 employees (120 in the factory – over 15–technicians and 40 mechanical engineers). These are the people that can service presses – they can usually be with a customer within 24/48 hours, depending upon transportation issues. If the customer is more local, we can be there within 4-8 hours,” said Derek Meng.

“China is a specialised market because the hydraulic press manufacturers there were all state-owned. The mindset is therefore slightly different from us – they were supported by the state, so the business was always going to be there. For us, as a family-owned business, service and quality are always going to be key to compete effectively against them. We want to be close to our customers in China to fully support them and provide the service or training that they need on-site. There is often a high turnover of manufacturing staff in China, so there is always training that needs to be done.”

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