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trailer world Issue One 2012

    Issue One 2012  21 Not long ago, Heine B. Nielsen was supplying trailer and body- work manufacturers with steel sheet parts and wings. But he was well aware that, in the long run, a small Danish company had no chance of competing with countries with cheap labour. So he began to experiment with the manufacture of thermoplastic wings. This development was given new impetus in 1982 when BPW took over HBN-Teknik from Heine B. Nielsen and a few years later decided to invest in new production methods. It became clear that 80 percent of capacity was tied up in the steel business, whereas plas- ticmanufacturingwascreating80percentofturnover.Sofromthenon, HBN-Teknik concentrated solely on plastics – “the only plastics opera- tion in the BPW Group“, explains Managing Director Kim Villadsen.“ New ideas The takeover of Austi, a Danish manufacturer of anti- spray mudflaps in the mid-1990s, provided new impetus for the fur- ther development of the HBN wing. “The bolts and screws on nor- mal wings soon rust and look terrible. And it used to take ages to fit the old wings and anti-spray mudflaps. That‘s why we have designed a whole new system where the components can quickly be clicked together“, says Kim Villadsen. Sales Manager Finn Sten Pedersen finds this is a good selling point: “Our thermoplastic wings may be a little more expensive than the steel ones, but once they have been fitted to the truck or trailer they work out cheaper“, he explains. Patent HBN-Teknik have also revolutionised their production processes using a patented modular system for compression moulds. In Ringsted, wings can be manufactured to fit every type of truck or trailer, without having to make an individual, expensive pressing mould each time. “In this way, we can keep production costs under control – an absolute must if we want to continue manufacturing in Denmark“, says Kim Villadsen. Just like the poet Hans Christian Andersen, HBN-Teknik set out into the wide world to seek their fortune, and today their Danish- manufactured products are recognised around the world for their excellent design, longevity and simple mounting system. HBN- Teknik supplies products to European truck and trailer manufac- turers, and also exports to Japan, Taiwan, South Africa and South America. Wings such as the Istoflex or Greenflex are more than just well-known brand names in the industry. “In Sweden, people don‘t just order a wing, they order an Istoflex“, says Finn Sten Pedersen. Excellence in innovation HBN-Teknik‘s strength lies in its solu- tions for innovation. Whenever the Danish specialists are kicking around new ideas, they immediately think about how to improve production methods. “We don‘t just change the material we use for a product or look for a quick way of cutting costs, we develop new, more efficient production processes and at the same time create a prod- uct that has added value for our customer“, says Kim Villadsen. Inthemid-1990s,HBN-TeknikandBPWjoinedforcestodevelopanew thermoplastic air bag piston for axles with air suspension. In contrast to traditional pistons, this new product does not rust and has another significant benefit: ”We managed to reduce the weight of an air bag piston by 30 percent to just 2.9 kilos“, says Finn Sten Pedersen. Development Now HBN-Teknik could focus on expanding its market share for lightweight air bag pistons for trucks and trail- ers. But the Danes were not yet finished. Kim Villadsen is delighted with his company‘s talent for innovation: “Up to that point, it had not been possible to manufacture the new pistons in a compression mould. But now we’ve done it“. The secret is to mould the pistons in two separate pieces and then weld them together using a new tech- nique. “It sounds simple, but in fact it has taken years to develop.“ In the end, HBN-Teknik managed to win over the Daimler group, and when the new Mercedes Actros was launched in the autumn of 2011, this completely new truck design was fitted with air bag pis- tons that had been “made in Denmark”. Mercedes needs to order 350,000 pieces a year, all of which will be manufactured in the new HBN-Teknik factory. Ambitions Kim Villadsen stresses that HBN-Teknik is not going to rest on its laurels. “We didn‘t do it all on our own. We have been work- ing closely with our customers and company owners for many years, and of course they expect us and our products to continue to develop“, says the Managing Director. On this basis, the latest product in the HBN portfoliohasemerged:theGFKairtank,whichbuildsonthefeaturesofthe air bag piston. It is 40 percent lighter than traditional steel tanks and does notshedrustparticles which clog up the pneumatic brake system. Photos:GwynNissen HBN-Teknik A/S 1974: Founded by Heine B. Nielsen to manufacture steel sheet parts for the commercial vehicle sector. 1982: BPW takes over HBN-Teknik 1986: Installation of the largest injection moulding machine in Northern Europe 1994/1995: Takeover of Austi A/S, based in Aarhus 1998: Groundbreaking ceremony for the new administration building 2011: Opening of the new production plant for air bag pistons and air tanks »We‘re not finished yet – we want to make the impossible possible.« Kim Villadsen, Managing Director of HBN-Teknik Innovative