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Trusted Partnership Paves the Way for Sustainable Growth

Why an automotive leader sent more than 100 key managers and engineers to brainstorm with one of its suppliers.

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It may seem unusual for one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers to send more than 100 of its senior leaders and engineers to an information and brainstorming seminar with a supplier. However, that’s exactly what automaker Dongfeng Motor Group (DFG) did when it collaborated with Oerlikon China on the Technical Exchange Seminar in October 2015 in Shiyan, China. The two companies created an event to find innovative solutions to DFG’s manufacturing challenges and meet goals related to China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016–2020).

Senior managers and senior engineers from Dongfeng Motor Group participated in this Oerlikon customer seminar.

In 2014, DFG accounted for 11.6% of all domestic sales of commercial vehicles and passenger cars, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). DFG also has several large-scale subsidiaries, including Dongfeng Motor Co., Ltd. (DFL) and Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle Co., Ltd. (DFCV). With revenue of nearly $79 billion, DFG ranks 109 on the 2015 Fortune 500 list of the world’s largest companies.

Part of DFG’s success has been its innovative and advanced approach to manufacturing. The company was one of the first in China to purchase PVD coating equipment from the United States in the 1980s. However, after more than two decades of use, aging coating equipment became relatively out-of-date. In late 2011 and early 2012, DFG explored opportunities with global coating providers in China. After several rounds of tests and assessments, the automaker selected the company that is today Oerlikon Balzers, as its PVD coating provider, and established a coating center in DFL’s Cutters and Gauges plant, which provides cutting tools and mold coating services to all of DFG, as well as other enterprises beyond China’s Hubei province.

After many years of collaboration, coating services provided by Oerlikon’s Surface Solutions Segment extended the life of some DFL cutting tools up to three times and increased cutting speed between 20 and 80 percent, depending on the process. The result was increased efficiency and reduced manufacturing cost.

In China, as in most parts of the world, trusted relationships built on a history of successful collaboration are critically important to develop long-term partnership and lead to win-win growth. As a result of those successes, DFG was open to creating a day-long forum where company executives, engineers and managers could explain some of their goals and challenges as well as develop ideas, technologies, and innovative product solutions with Oerlikon’s innovators.

“Long-term partnerships are important in every market, but especially so in Asia. Oerlikon China has focused on building relationships with large and emerging local manufacturing companies to help them find the innovative solutions that will make a difference in the marketplace,” says Wang Jun, Oerlikon China’s president.

The more than 100 engineers from DFG and its subsidiaries represented various disciplines including research and development, automobile engines, gearbox manufacturing, automobile die punching, and others.

During the event, company executives shared some of their priorities and needs to meet their objectives. Representatives from Oerlikon China were able to suggest solutions, especially from the Oerlikon Balzers and Oerlikon Metco from Oerlikon’s Surface Solutions Segment and Oerlikon Graziano from Oerlikon’s drive systems businesses. Managers and engineers worked together in various sessions, brainstorming ways to help make DFG more competitive in the marketplace. The two companies also found a number of ways in which Oerlikon could support DFG’s commitment to Industry 4.0 development, as well as its plans related to China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016–2020), including implementing more effective, streamlined processes to improve productivity and cost savings.

This successful event brought the partnership between the two companies to a new level and set the foundation for multiple joint projects which were discussed at the event and could lead to further fruitful business collaborations.

Customer Presentation delivered by Mr. Zhang Rixin, the factory deputy director of Machine Tool Plant of Dongfeng Motor Co., Ltd.

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