Continental Concentrates European Production of High-Volume Fuel Supply Units in New Plant
Oct 1, 2013
- Official opening of Continental production facility in Brasov (Romania), representing 40-million euro investment
- Modern logistics and production technologies guarantee top quality standards and ensure long-term competitiveness
- At full capacity the plant will produce seven million fuel supply units per year
- Close ties to centers of competence in Dortmund and Bebra
Brasov, Romania, October 1, 2013. The Fuel Supply business unit of the Continental Powertrain Division will concentrate its high-volume production in Europe. The international automotive supplier has commissioned a new plant for fuel pumps and fuel supply units in an industrial park near Brasov, Romania. Continental is one of the world’s leading fuel supply specialists and intends to supply automobile plants throughout Europe from Brasov. The company has invested 40 million euros in the ultra-modern facility with a production capacity of seven million fuel supply units per year. About five hundred people will be working at the plant by the end of the year. Among the guests at the official opening ceremony were Dorel Toma, Mayor of Ghimbav, Thomas Gerlach, Consul general representing Germany in Sibiu, José Avila, Member of the Executive Board Continental AG and President of the Powertrain Division, and Christian Albrichsfeld, General Manager of Continental Automotive, Romania.
From left to right: Dr. Christian Albrichsfeld, General Manager of Continental Automotive Romania, Thomas Gerlach, Consul general representing Germany in Sibiu, José Avila, Member of the Continental Executive Board and President of the Powertrain Division, Dorel Toma, Mayor of Ghimbav, Dr. Markus Distelhoff, head of the global Fuel Supply business unit, Rainer Kehnscherper, Plant Manager Brasov. Image download
An “integrated facility” with ultra flexible manufacturing
“Since Brasov is going to be our main production facility in Europe, it will work closely with Dortmund and Bebra,” said Markus Distelhoff, head of the global Fuel Supply business unit. “Dortmund is our worldwide center of competence for the development of new technologies and production processes for fuel supply units while Bebra is our center of competence for fuel pumps. The new factory will be the business unit’s first “integrated facility” in Europe. “We are bundling three main competencies here: the manufacture of electrical fuel pumps, injection molding and assembly of entire fuel supply units.” The plant employs the latest concepts in manufacturing and logistics, which will allow it to meet the demands of today’s automotive industry. “Automobile manufacturers have multiplied the number of models they build over the last 20 years so we have to make sure that our manufacturing processes are flexible. Whereas we used to be able to make three variants on one assembly line, the same line in Brasov will now be able to produce 16 variants,” says Distelhoff. The new plant will greatly enhance competitiveness in Europe over the long term. One of the main reasons for this is its consistent orientation towards quality. “Of course we will implement the Continental ‘Quality first’ initiative in Brasov as well. All of our manufacturing processes conform to our zero-error philosophy,” says Distelhoff.
Sophisticated logistics and minimal inventories
Among the many innovations at the plant is an internal transport concept which eliminates pallets or cartons from the factory floor. As parts are received, they go into standardized plastic boxes which a semi-automated system then transports to the job site. “This pallet-free system will help us shorten throughput times for products and reduce manufacturing inventory. It also will be tidier because there will be no more packaging in the production area, thus reducing the risk of contamination,” explains Rainer Kehnscherper, General Manager, Continental Powertrain Romania SRL. It was also possible to drastically reduce the buffer time (usually three days’ worth of production) in the event of a work stoppage. The maintenance concept is oriented towards Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), meaning that disruptions cannot possibly lead to an extended work stoppage. “The Jidoka principle also aids us here. It helps us to locate reasons for breakdowns quickly and to remedy them lastingly. Brasov is the first Continental plant in Europe to implement Jidoka Level 2,” says Kehnscherper.
Modern fuel pumps help reduce CO2
Every automobile that is powered by an internal combustion engine also has a fuel supply unit. In contrast to the injector pump on the engine, the fuel pump is located in the tank where it furnishes the engine with a constant supply of fuel under any driving conditions, including when the tank is near low and in curves or in grades (up or downhill drives). Innovative solutions like demand-driven brushless fuel pumps (also manufactured in Brasov) make a major contribution to upping energy efficiency and thus, to reducing a car’s CO2 emissions. Common fuel supply units are usually calibrated for maximum consumption, which actually occurs only five percent of the time. They therefore pump too much fuel to the engine and then pump the excess back into the tank, which results in a constant reshuffling of the tank contents. A demand-driven pump has an electronic control device that calibrates the exact amount of fuel that the engine needs. The brushless electric motors used in the pumps have a particularly long service life.
Continental in Romania
The Continental Group has invested more than 700 million euros in Romania. Both the Automotive Group and the Rubber Group are present. All five divisions of the automotive supplier are active in Romania, operating seven manufacturing facilities plus three research and development offices in Timisoara, Sibiu, Carei, Nadab, Brasov and Iasi. The Group is also partner in a joint venture in Slatina and operates a tire distribution center for Eastern Europe in Sãcãlaz. Continental currently employs some 12,000 people in Romania.