Annual Report 2015

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GF Piping Systems

Arabia’s new gateway//

The new Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport is currently one of the biggest construction sites in the Gulf. 30 million passengers a year are expected to pass through the emirate’s modern airport terminal from 2017 onward. A wide range of piping systems supplied by GF Piping Systems are helping ensure that the infrastructure works perfectly.

Megaproject// The new Midfield Terminal for Abu Dhabi International Airport is springing up in the Abu Dhabi desert. The enormous X-shaped building is still one gigantic construction site right now. But it’s set to be a destination for visitors from all over the world as soon as 2017. More than 40 airlines already fly to the emirate. So the Abu Dhabi Airports corporation began building the Midfield Terminal, located right in the middle between the two runways, at the end of 2012 to enable it to serve the growing volume of air traffic. Once completed, some 30 million passengers a year will be able to use the airport.

Complex infrastructure // With 700 000 square meters of floor space, the Midfield Terminal is set to be the biggest single building in Abu Dhabi. The roof, which spans as much as 180 meters in places is large enough to cover 21 soccer pitches with ease. But for the building’s complex infrastructure to function smoothly and fail-safe at all times, high-quality installations and products are essential.


Ultrahigh efficiency // When it comes to the piping systems for the water supply and the wastewater, and for transporting the cooling water for the air conditioning and the fire protection system, Abu Dhabi Airports and the joint venture between construction firms TAV, CCC, and Arabtec are therefore relying on products from GF Piping Systems. “We are supplying pipes and fittings for a very wide range of areas in the infrastructure of the new terminal”, said Abdelfattah Bensammoud, Regional Sales Manager in the Sales Office at GF Piping Systems in Dubai.

For the cold water and hot water pipes, the wastewater system and the fire extinguishing water supply pipes, what’s being deployed is the Aquasystem with pipes made of polypropylene, PVC-U and high-density HDPE alongside the extremely robust Waga MULTI/JOINT fittings. In the desert climate, the extreme differences in temperature between night and day place a special strain on the pipes. “We used special piping solutions completely made of PE100 material and welded using ELGEF Plus fittings in the Midfield Terminal to compensate for the expansion and contraction of the material that happens in that environment”, explained Bensammoud. The efficient water pipes from GF Piping Systems also restrict the consumption of drinking water, that resource being so precious in the desert.

Fighting the desert heat // For the air conditioning, the Midfield Terminal is getting a large external plant to house the cooling system. Schedule 80 PVC pipes from GF Piping Systems are being used to feed the enormous quantities of cooling water into the air conditioning system. The plant cools the water to six degrees Celsius and ensures a pleasant temperature indoors even when it can be up to 48 degrees Celsius outside. Products from GF Piping Systems are even being used outside on the apron at the Midfield Terminal. There, the fire extinguishing system for the kerosene tanks supplying the aircrafts with fuel also get their water through pipes from GF Piping Systems.

All-round service // Most products from GF Piping Systems go directly from Schaffhausen (Switzerland) to the Persian Gulf, but some do come from other locations spread out across the globe. The HDPE pipes are produced by a local partner. In addition to pipes and other parts, GF Piping Systems is also supplying the matching jointing technology, such as electrofusion machines, including aftersales service. “We’ve held training sessions for our customers to teach them how to use the systems properly”, said Abdelfattah Bensammoud. If everything goes to plan, the first passenger jets should be heading out to the Midfield Terminal in the third quarter of 2017.

Customer interview

“Good partners”

A subsidiary of construction company Arabtec, EFECO is responsible for the installation of all piping systems in the construction of the Midfield Terminal. As Director of Operations, it is Project Manager Ali Kassaymeh’s job to ensure that the building works run smoothly. And in doing so he relies on the products and services of GF Piping Systems.  

Mr. Kassaymeh, do you often work on buildings as large as the Midfield Terminal?

Of course, we do often have megaprojects but the Midfield Terminal is the biggest EFECO has ever been involved in. We previously worked on the new Terminal 2 at the airport in Dubai. But that was on a much smaller scale and didn’t have such complex requirements.

What were the main reasons for you choosing to use GF Piping Systems products?

We wanted only the best products for this megaproject. I’ve known the pipes and fittings from GF Piping Systems for almost 20 years now and I’m absolutely convinced by their high quality. The products are extremely stable and meet all of the project specifications. Besides that, we need piping systems for a huge range of applications. With GF Piping Systems, we can get all of the products and materials we need out of one hand and whenever we need them.

What is the working relationship with GF Piping Systems like?

It’s very close. We talk openly about all possible problems and technical difficulties. The service team at GF Piping Systems comes up with a solution for us within 24 hours or gives us technical advice. Abdelfattah Bensammoud is very attentive to our needs. The people at GF Piping Systems know how important this construction project is. That’s why EFECO and GF Piping Systems have been good partners for many years.

GF Automotive

Precision in car steering//

ThyssenKrupp Presta AG is the world’s foremost manufacturer of car steering systems. GF Automotive provides the sector leader with special cast parts for adjustable steering columns: millions of these parts are supplied to sites all over the world. GF has even developed a special mold concept so that the finished components do not require elaborate finishing.

Global player // It is often the case in modern automobile production that apparently simple functions are provided by clever technical solutions. The adaptive crash functions in the adjustable steering columns made by ThyssenKrupp Presta AG are a good example of this. Based in Eschen (Liechtenstein) and at sites all over the world, the company delivers its products to almost all global automobile manufacturers. One in four cars in the world today is fitted with a steering system from ThyssenKrupp Presta.

Just-in-time // GF Automotive supplies ThyssenKrupp Presta with cast steering console components for its mechanically and electrically adjustable steering columns. In 2015, the GF division produced approximately 7.67 million of these aluminum or magnesium parts for the customer in different versions to fit a wide range of car models. The cast parts are manufactured at the sites for light alloy pressure die-casting in Altenmarkt (Austria) and in Suzhou (China). From here the parts are supplied ready for assembly to ThyssenKrupp Presta AG production sites all over the world: Shanghai and Changchun in China, Terre Haute in the USA, Florange in France and Eschen in Liechtenstein. The components are then installed in steering columns for Ford, VW, BMW, and other automotive brands.

Global supply // “ThyssenKrupp Presta is the only customer we supply worldwide with a specific product family”, says Raimund Mauerberger, GF Automotive’s Key Account Manager for ThyssenKrupp. The division is also one of ThyssenKrupp Presta’s biggest suppliers. The close collaboration commenced as long ago as 2002: this was when GF Automotive started cooperating with the customer to develop the steering console as a completely new cast part.

Cast in a single mold // GF Automotive succeeds in manufacturing
the product using the so-called net shape method, which means that the part already has its final shape after casting. Due to the complex geometry of the console which conventional casting methods cannot reproduce, the GF
experts had to develop an entirely innovative new technique for this part. “This enabled us to present a solution that saves all of the costly and time-consuming finishing”, explains Raimund Mauerberger.

Lighter and lighter // Since then, GF Automotive has continued to refine the steering console part for ThyssenKrupp Presta on an ongoing basis. There are several versions for different car models which vary in shape and material – either aluminum or magnesium. The low weight of these metals is a major benefit from the customer’s point of view. Lightweight construction is a key issue in automobile manufacture, since weight impacts directly on a car’s fuel consumption. GF Automotive has managed to make the steering console continuously lighter over the years, achieving a weight reduction of 15% since the project kicked off, while still retaining the same level of stability.

An eye on the future // GF Automotive currently supplies the third generation of steering consoles to ThyssenKrupp Presta. “At each stage of development we have been able to further optimize the part, so it is now highly mature in technological terms”, explains Mauerberger. But that doesn’t mean GF Automotive has time to sit back. As the pace of innovation in the field of steering systems and manufacturing methods is very high, fresh challenges come thick and fast. “Our aim is to remain an innovation leader so we can continue to develop product solutions that provide our customer ThyssenKrupp Presta with clear added value in the future, too”, says Mauerberger.

Customer interview

“We are growing globally”

Guido Durrer leads ThyssenKrupp Presta AG as the company’s CEO. He explains the innovation potential of car steering systems, where the development focus areas lie for his company and what challenges suppliers such as GF Automotive will face in the future.

Mr. Durrer, what can actually be improved in a car’s steering system?

There are several areas of potential improvement in steering systems, such as acoustics and steering feel. The main focus lies on autonomous driving and the conversion from hydraulic to electromechanical steering, which cuts fuel consumption by up to 0.5 l/100 km. Other sources of optimization potential are intelligent lightweight construction and also novel manufacturing techniques.

What development and innovation projects is ThyssenKrupp Presta currently pursuing?

We are growing in the global steering gear trade. Potential new development projects arise primarily in conjunction with electromechanical steering for our customers BMW, Daimler, Volvo, Geely, and Ford. This is why we need powerful partners such as GF Automotive that not only possess expertise in light alloy pressure die-casting, but also have necessary know-how in processing high-precision parts.

How do you rate the long-standing collaboration with GF Automotive?

GF Automotive has ranked as a reliable supplier and an ideal growth partner for years. The technical expertise especially comes into play in the development of innovative solutions. In future, however, the division will have to prepare to face more dynamic and more demanding competition, in particular in the Asian market. Here, GF will have to defend its existing unique selling propositions.

GF Machining Solutions

Right on track//

The Chinese company Himile Science & Technology is the world’s leading supplier of tire tread molds. In manufacturing tire molds from milled steel and aluminum with highly complex tread patterns, Himile places its trust in the precision and performance capacity of the latest generation of high-performance machining centers made by GF Machining Solutions.

Ground contact // Whether on a wet or dirty road, or riding over rough terrain – the tread of a tire is what provides optimum grip. It is thanks to the ribs and grooves that the vehicle remains securely on track. But how are these complex patterns actually applied to the tire? A hot press mold is used to give the tire its tread and its side wall markings. At temperatures of some 200 degrees Celsius, molds made of steel or aluminum transfer the tread onto the tire’s soft rubber mixture under high pressure.

Well-known customers // The world’s biggest manufacturer of tire molds is located in China: Himile Science & Technology. The company, based in Gaomi in the Eastern Chinese province of Shandong, produces some 17 000 sets of the most diverse tire molds every year and supplies 62 of the 75 world’s biggest tire manufacturers. Himile’s customers include Michelin, Bridgestone, and Goodyear as well as other well-known brand names. The company’s portfolio ranges from molds for car, truck, motorcycle, and bus tires to off-road tires and even large-sized tires for construction vehicles and aircraft. In addition to products for the tire industry, the Himile Group also produces mechanical parts for machine construction.

Its tire molds are usually made up of several elements, and since 2002 the company has used state-of-the-art production techniques to manufacture them from steel and aluminum. High-precision machines are required to make molds for complex tread patterns, such as the fine ribs found on winter tires. For this purpose, Himile uses products made by GF Machining Solutions.


High performance // “Our team of developers started modifying our high-speed milling machines for manufacturing tire molds as long ago as 2007. Our Mikron HSM 600U has shown itself to be very advantageous in this area, thanks to its high performance, efficiency, and precision”, says Jun Du, Sales Supervisor with GF Machining Solutions in Shanghai. Himile was quickly impressed with these benefits, too. The company has put a total of 50 of the division’s machines into operation over the last five years.

The latest technology // Himile uses 38 of the HSM 600U LP Mikron 5-axis machining centers, whose linear direct drive ensures the very highest precision, and it also runs 11 HSM 600U for direct milling of tire mold segments and plastic mold models. In addition, it has a Mikron HEM 600 machining center for producing mechanical parts and a laser machine for texturing the molds for tire side walls.

Perfect partners // In addition to the high performance of the machines, it is the intensive on-site support provided by the GF Machining Solutions sales team in China that is a key factor for Himile. Johnson Chen, Managing Director of GF Machining Solutions in Shanghai, is in personal contact and close cooperation with the management of Himile, too. “Himile is not just a customer: the companyalso supplies cast iron parts for the production of EDM machines to the GF Machining Solutions plant in Beijing”,explains Johnson Chen.

Customer interview

“Absolute precision”

The up-and-coming Chinese high-tech company Himile works constantly to develop innovative new solutions for the tire industry and has already acquired 95 national patents and two international ones. Himile Vice General Manager Wei Zhang explains why the company only uses the very best machines.

Mr. Zhang, what are the key factors when it comes to produce molds for quality tires?

In addition to the structure and the correct bonding of all tire parts in the heat press, the tire mold is a crucial factor in producing a high-quality vehicle tire. To ensure that everything is just right, we must take care to achieve the very highest level of precision in the mechanical processing of the model elements so that they fit together exactly during assembly.

What are the particular requirements of themilling machines used to do this work?

Most of all absolute precision and stability in machining the parts. The option of 5-axis machining is very important for us, too. And we attach great importance to the air quality in our production hall. This is why we need machines with a good dust filter in order to reduce the volume of resin dust as much as possible.

What are the benefits of GF Machining Solutions products?

GF Machining Solutions machines meet all our requirements in terms of efficiency and precision. The HSM 600U LP is also very compact, which makes cleaning and maintenance much easier. GF Machining Solutions stands for highly advanced machine technology, as demonstrated especially by its 5-axis milling machines: these have been very useful to Himile in developing new tire molds.