The automotive industry has extremely exacting requirements relating to cost-optimised and high-quality production. To meet these standards, it is essential for HÖRMANN Automotive to make regular adjustments to its manufacturing structure to adapt to developments on the market and the ever-growing cost of doing business.

‘The original strategy for the factory in Slovakia envisaged that we would use the plant merely as a subcontractor for our work and that there would be only limited complexity in terms of products and processes,’ said Daniel Holstein, managing director of HÖRMANN Automotive. He added, ‘As a result of the sharp increase in pressure on prices and costs, we were compelled to carry out a fundamental review of the HÖRMANN Automotive strategy and make some adjustments to ensure future viability. One of the keys to the new strategy was the comprehensive expansion of the Bánovce location in Slovakia and the complete relocation of production from the Penzberg site in Bavaria to Slovakia.’


Comprehensive expansion of production space

The first step was for HÖRMANN Automotive to rent additional premises, requiring a re-alignment of the value stream and thus all the systems engineering already installed. ‘Ultimately, an optimised value stream is an essential prerequisite for efficient production and logistics further down the line,’ explained Holstein. The production area expanded rapidly from around 7,000 square metres to a total of approximately 25,000 square metres in several stages between 2018 and 2020.

The specially established team then relocated more than 100 systems and several thousand tools from Germany to the site in Slovakia. Because it was crucial to keep up supply to customers during the process, reserve stock was produced for all the nearly 5,000 item numbers to be relocated. ‘This necessitated a great deal of co-ordination between the source factories and the receiving plant so as to avoid any breakdown in the precisely timed supply chains found in the automotive industry,’ said Pavel Roskoš, managing director and plant manager in Bánovce. HÖRMANN Rawema’s many years of experience came in handy at this point, as the company was able to offer additional project management resources to assist with the relocation.


Foundations laid for further growth

The team in Slovakia managed to get the new products and processes up and running and slip smoothly into gear with supplying customers within a very short space of time and despite all the complications presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant co-ordinating in detail with customers to ensure that all requirements of the quality system regarding product certification were met. In addition, there were new people joining the workforce almost on a daily basis during the ramp-up phase, and they needed to be trained and given introductions to the work that they would be doing and to the demanding requirements of the automotive industry.

The comprehensive relocation and rapid expansion of the site were completed by the second half of 2020. Considerable attention is still being paid to further optimising manufacturing and business processes, continuing to train the workforce, boosting efficiency and making the most of the learning curve effect. The factory now has facilities that will set it in good stead for the future, including some state-of-the-art automated production cells, all arranged in a design intended to maximise the value stream. ‘This has laid the foundations for additions to the range of products and to our customer base, as well as for further growth in future,’ said Holstein.