AP&T North America Inc

4817 Persimmon Ct
Monroe,  NC  28110-9314

United States
  • Booth: B5721

 Press Releases

  • How can you get the most out of an existing press-hardening line? AP&T's analysis gives the answer, often showing that there is significant potential to shorten cycle times and increase production. 

    “It's not uncommon that we conclude that cycle times can be reduced by about 20% or more,” says Jan Larsson, experienced press-hardening expert and currently responsible for developing AP&T's aftermarket business. 

    So how do customers go about discovering how great the potential is and what they need to do to harness it? 

    “The first step is for us to provide the customer with a form in which they detail what products they manufacture in the line. Following this, we add detailed machine data and compare various simulations. The results of the analysis show how much volume could be produced during a particular period if the line were optimized and its full potential harnessed,” says Larsson.

    Though the greatest benefits are seen in revenues, optimization also enables lower costs per produced unit, such as through improved energy efficiency. 

    “The more units that can be manufactured within a certain time frame, the lower the energy consumption per unit, as idle time is minimized.” 

    The analysis encompasses all aspects of the press-hardening process and all its technology. 

    “AP&T possesses in-depth knowledge of not only heat treatment, but also of machines. It gives us a holistic view that enables us to identify with great precision where the greatest potential improvements lie and thus, what further efforts should focus on. Sometimes, the process can be optimized without investing in new technology, but it can also sometimes be justified to upgrade your machinery or switch out the control system.” 

    The potential increase in production translated into actual figures shows how profitable the proposed measures will be. The calculation is also the starting point for choosing a payment model, which can be adapted to the customer's needs and wishes. 

    “One option is to integrate optimization efforts into what is known as an availability agreement at a fixed monthly rate. You can also choose to pay based on performance, a certain amount per press cycle, for instance. But our main track means that both parties benefit from the added value optimization gives. Should we not be able to identify any improvement potential whatsoever, we will not charge for our analysis. It's a model that everyone benefits from,” says Larsson.

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Stellantis) is one of the customers who has increased their productivity by allowing AP&T to optimize the company’s press-hardening lines. For more on this collaboration, see:

  • “Our furnace systems meet the growing needs of solutions for the automotive industry that will make production more efficient and make vehicles lighter, safer and more energy-efficient. We are now dedicating AP&T furnaces its own business area, increasing the potential of developing future solutions with our customers,” says Pär Mickos, Product Manager of Furnace Systems at AP&T. 

    AP&T, with headquarters in Ulricehamn, Sweden, develops and manufactures steel and fiber-forming production solutions. Its largest customer segment is in the automotive industry. The company is a world leader in press hardening of sheet metal and has repeatedly received recognition for its process technology for hot forming high-strength aluminum. They have developed and manufactured multi-layer furnaces since 2010. 

    “In terms of volume, we are already one of Sweden's largest manufacturers of furnaces for industrial applications. We have a well-proven program of competitive products and considering the growth potential we see in our niches on the global market, we are ready to expand,” says Pär Mickos. 

    Designating a business area to furnaces at AP&T, in similarity to those for presses and automation, means an increase in customer focus and resources for e.g., product development. 

    Energy-efficient, electric Multi-Layer Furnace
    The foundation of the current product program is AP&T's energy-efficient, electric Multi-Layer Furnace, available in a number of designs for press hardening and hot forming aluminum. Its multi-layer design means it has a relatively small footprint on the shop floor than conventional roller hearth furnaces. It has few moving parts which reduces the need for maintenance and production can continue, even if one of the furnace layers needs to be shut down. All furnaces are equipped with AP&T's feeding and unloading automation. 

    In addition to the Multi-Layer Furnace, the press hardening furnace program includes advanced systems for process monitoring. Also included is AP&T's patented solution for partial hardening, TemperBox®, which makes it possible to combine soft and hard sections in one and the same component. 

    The Multi-Layer Furnace is part of AP&T's solution for hot forming high-strength aluminum, as are AP&T's servohydraulic press and automation. The process makes it possible to manufacture complexly formed components in demanding aluminum alloys, effectively and with short cycle times. 

    All furnace products are also included in AP&T's aftermarket offer which will not also include e.g., new types of availability agreements. 

    “As a long-term partner to the global automotive industry, we will continue to be forerunners that offer products and services that help customer companies take a step into the future. Here, our furnace system will be an important part of our total offering,” says Mickos. 

  • For AP&T it was a technical challenge to bridge the substantial gap between the line’s presses efficiently. 

    “Rather than use conventional industrial robots, we presented a design solution based on our new generation of five-axis SpeedFeeders,” says Adam Allansson, President of AP&T North America. 

    The proposal was highly appreciated and in April 2018, Spartanburg Steel placed their order. A year and a half later, the equipment was installed and integrated, and the now fully automated line could be commissioned. 

    “In total, we installed six SpeedFeeders for blank feeding, transfer of parts between the five presses, and unloading. As we were doing our work, Spartanburg Steel upgraded the presses in the line and their tool exchange system. We cooperated closely with other suppliers to ensure the best possible total solution in the shortest possible time,” says Adam Allansson. 

    Since the autumn of 2019, the upgraded, five-press tandem line has delivered according to expectations. It is regularly serviced by AP&T's technicians and new staff at Spartanburg Steel are trained in operation and safety by AP&T.