thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions: An integrated business model with maximum expertise for body construction
thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions can look back on a 120-year history. And yet the bodywork specialists are constantly reinventing themselves. After all, the unprecedented change in the automotive industry is not leaving body construction untouched. As an integrated car body specialist that scores on the market with speed and the greatest know-how, the company considers itself perfectly positioned for the present and the future.
With around 2100 employees, thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions has built up an outstanding reputation among premium vehicle manufacturers over the years. More than 20 supplier awards won speak for themselves. It's not just new forms of drive and ambitious climate targets that pose major challenges for the car body specialists. Ever shorter development cycles, a continuing increase in model diversity and rising safety requirements are also placing demands on employees at nine locations worldwide. The car body specialist repositioned and realigned themselves at an early stage. The unique business model: The company offers both project business including plant engineering, toolmaking and prototype construction as well as series production of body components from a single source.
Extensive synergy effects between series production and plant engineering
"As an integrated car body specialist, we can act in a more entrepreneurial way, and be quicker and more flexible on the market than our competitors," confirms Falk Nüßle, CEO of thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions. By combining their own expertise in classic plant engineering with that from the series production of body components, the automotive professionals have secured a decisive competitive edge: "By combining the two areas, we can offer our customers customized and proven solutions from a single source for the entire body shop," says Nüßle.
Experience from series production flows into the project business
thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions covers the entire automotive product development process from the pre-development phase to volume production. "There is no comparable competitor in terms of breadth and depth – that's the big difference," explains Nüßle. The concrete advantage for customers: "In project business, we are able to incorporate our expertise and experience from the series production of body components, where we have to deliver the very highest quality and performance on a 24/7 basis. After all, we know very well where the key challenges lie. In series production, on the other hand, we can rely on our own project business, which can also introduce process improvements during production. This gives us synergy effects in both directions and the opportunity to advise our customers in a completely different way than our competitors."
An all-round service that hits the spot. "There are customers who take advantage of our comprehensive expertise by purchasing everything from prototype construction to toolmaking and plant engineering from us," reveals Torsten Schunk, Head of Competence Center at thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions. "We call these system projects, and in them we supply everything from a single source on a turnkey basis – including complete quality coordination. This saves the customer effort, time and, not least, money."
Another example of 360° performance capability is the company's own showcase plant in Mühlacker. Here, Porsche Taycan body substructures are manufactured to customer order and delivered just-in-sequence to Zuffenhausen. thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions not only handles the joining of the individual parts, which are also almost entirely purchased by the body shop professionals. "We also helped completely develop the construction of the operating equipment for the press tools needed to produce the individual parts," Schunk reveals. "To this end, our Toolmaking and Prototyping departments worldwide supervised the construction of the dies and the press shops during the development of the components, and everything was completely coordinated. "We were able to achieve the required quality in record time by specifying exactly which processes and process steps must be used to produce these components."
Passion and excellence as differentiating factors
This eliminates unnecessary supplier interfaces, which often lead to problems, especially with complex and technologically sophisticated individual parts. This is particularly the case with the tolerance-sensitive parts of the body. "Because each individual part has its own tolerances, we have to deal with real tolerance chains when assembling the individual parts," explains Falk Nüßle. The central challenge: To manufacture the end products true to size. A highly complex problem that requires a lot of expertise and experience. Finally, stresses are applied to the end products by joining operations of the individual parts such as welding or bonding. At thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions, specialists from Torsten Schunk's competence center are addressing the issue. "These highly specialized teams are pathfinders and help to boost confidence because – to put it simply – they know exactly where to press on the part on the left so that it will fit at the top right during subsequent assembly," says Nüßle.
The specialists at Automotive Body Solutions are not only located in the competence center. Each individual employee is an expert in his or her field, as Felix Bader, Chief Human Resources Officer at Automotive Body Solutions, explains: "A major pillar of our success is our highly motivated team. Our employees have a great team spirit, cohesion, the will to succeed and a passion for top performance. This combination makes us a valuable partner for our customers."
The body production of the Porsche Taycan is not the only project in the field of electric mobility. Today, thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions is already generating over 50 percent of its sales in the series production business with electrified vehicles. "We also have a strong presence in the field of electric mobility in plant engineering, of course," reveals Falk Nüßle. And not only with the classic providers such as for example Daimler, Audi, BMW or Porsche, Bentley or Lamborghini. Younger and completely new manufacturers such as Tesla, Fiska or Lucid also like to call on our range of expertise because, as you would expect, the customer in this case does not have the same level of experience in car body construction as the large, established automotive groups." Torsten Schunk adds: "Most of these companies, not infrequently startups, can't even afford to manage the many suppliers. They then rely on us for that. A partner who can cover everything completely and at the highest quality level, especially the many overarching issues." It is this holistic claim, this comprehensive competence, with which thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions convinces its customers.
"Meeting even the highest demands of our customers"
"Compared to the competition, we are not only extremely fast and flexible. Our extensive experience in both project business and series production ensures that what the customer gets is on time, on quality and on cost," summarizes Nüßle. "We keep promises here that others simply cannot keep".
How do the bodywork experts manage to do it time and time again, from job to job? Falk Nüßle has a clear answer to this question: "Our key differentiating factor is the perfect blend of passion, experience, precision and a holistic approach. This enables us to meet even the highest demands of our customers."