| 3 MINUTE READ

Spanish composites: growth trajectory

I’ve been traveling through Spain and visiting composites fabricators’ facilities, and a composites fabrication equipment supplier. Entrepreneurial effort and innovation clearly can occur anywhere, and it has been a fascinating journey.

Share

Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon
�

Josef  Neuhausler (left) and managing director Roberto Rey at the Carbures Mobility facility in El Burgo de Osma, Spain 

For the past week I’ve been traveling through Spain and visiting composites fabricators’ facilities, and a composites fabrication equipment supplier. Entrepreneurial effort and innovation clearly can occur anywhere, and it has been a fascinating journey from the standpoint of seeing growth and expansion of companies as composites usage has also expanded.

CW has already presented an overview and good information about Carbures (see Ginger Gardiner’s blog about the company here: http://www.compositesworld.com/blog/post/carbures-conquering-the-world-for-composites) but I visited three of the company’s locations — in Jerez de la Fronterra, Illescas and El Burgo de Osma, Spain — to see firsthand the work that they do, and meet the people involved. The three plant visits afforded a chance to observe the Tier 2 firm’s work in aerospace and defense projects, and its small yet developing mobility (auto and rail) business line.

The company has grown both organically and through strategic acquisitions of engineering design/production firms that have expanded its reach and client base. What is clear, especially evident at the El Burgo facility, is that the acquisitions have yielded good people: experts with deep connections in a specific business area. Case in point is Josef Neuhäusler, who is the general manager of Carbures Mobility and the founder of aXcep in Munich, with years of experience in automotive system and component design. With aXcep’s acquisition in 2013, Carbures installed Neuhäusler as the leader of its mobility group, and his connections are leading to significant new business, including a hybrid composite-aluminum wheel program in collaboration with 2elle-engineering (Trebaseleghe, Italy). Neuhäusler is confident that the hybrid wheel will succeed, because the aluminum will be placed on the wheel spokes, where damage is most likely to occur, while the carbon fiber makes up the rim for a 30% weight reduction over all-metal wheel design. It was an opportunity to see a bit of the planning, development, strategy, even staff development and lean methods implementation, as Carbures dives into autocomposites.

I was also fortunate to see the MTorres plant in Torres de Elorz, in Navarra, where they design and assemble a myriad array of machines for aerospace manufacturing processes, metal and composites. From a start making machines for paper handling, the company has grown by figuring out how to insert automated processes into complex manufacturing and assembly. I got a chance to see the assembly and testing of MTorres’ “hybrid” automated fiber placement (AFP) heads, which are easily changed out during production to keep production flowing, and which are proving to be much more efficient than automated tape laying (ATL) even for flat parts. A highlight of the MTorres visit was the Lego area. Company head Manuel Torres believes so strongly in developing the new generation of engineers that MTorres joined six years ago the First Lego League, which sponsors robotic competitions with robots made of Lego pieces, for children ages 10 to 16. Company employees’ children can participate, and now other kids from the area as well. Each team must build a working, programmed robot to carry out specific tasks, and must explain the concept, in English, to an expert panel for points. In 2015 a team from MTorres came first in international competition.    

�

Spanish jamon was a highlight of the visit

And, I must mention that the Spanish are unfailingly excellent hosts; they provided me with ample food, including of course jamon! CW will publish a full report on the Carbures facility visits in an upcoming issue, and an article regarding MTorres technology as well, so stay tuned.  

Related Topics