Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik AG; Graz (Österreich)

Published in: MoveUp 1-2 / 2003

High performance thanks to whole vehicle expertise

Productive and cost-effective with TIA

The automotive industry is experiencing a period of rapid and profound change. Only companies that can demonstrate fresh ideas, commitment and reliability on a daily basis will survive in tomorrow's markets. To meet the rapidly changing, individual preferences of end consumers, there is a greater demand than ever for product variety. One company that is pursuing this objective the most consistently is the Austro-Canadian automotive supplier Magna. The acquisition of the traditional European company Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Austria led to the new Magna Steyr division, whose capabilities put Magna right at the top of the traditional supplier pyramid.

Everyone is familiar with the little Steyr-Puch 500, the Pinzgauer and the Haflinger 700 AP. All three models came from the traditional company Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz, which has been developing and producing cars since 1904 and has made a particular name for itself in four-wheel drive and off-road technology, standing for quality, innovation and reliability. For more than fifty years, the Graz company has been developing and producing vehicle components and complete vehicles for well-known automobile manufacturers such as Audi, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat and Volkswagen.

Magna Int. Inc., the company founded by the Austrian-born Frank Stronach in Canada, is only 50 years old but in that time Magna has developed into one of the world's elite suppliers to the automotive industry. Its almost legendary success is down to a consistently decentralized organizational structure and its universal product range - Magna produces almost everything except engines, glass, tires and pure vehicle electronics. With the acquisition of Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG in 1998, Magna also gained development and manufacturing expertise for complete vehicles, putting it at the very top of the traditional supplier pyramid.

A service provider with whole vehicle expertise

The resulting company Magna Steyr, an all-rounder within the parent group, is one of six independent divisions of Magna. It currently has around 10,000 employees (at 17 locations in seven countries) and offers complete development and production of vehicles, four-wheel drive mechanisms and chassis systems. Magna Steyr is one of the few automotive service providers in the world that has proven whole vehicle expertise and is fully capable of handling the complex task of series production quickly, reliably and economically. This sets the Graz company apart as an ideally suited strategic value-added partner for automobile manufacturers, offering turnkey projects from concept development right through to series production. This range of services is unique in the automotive supplier industry and is particularly attractive to automobile manufacturers due to the high utilization of their internal development and production capacity.

The company's expertise and technologies, including project management, manufacturing engineering, procurement, logistics, metal forming, shell construction, painting and final assembly, are all state of the art. Magna Steyr provides a high level of flexibility in particularly for series production of niche vehicles and a variety of large volume vehicles. Coverage of peak production requirements, CKD production, start-up support and phase-out production complete the company's range of services.

Long standing partners

DaimlerChrysler has had links with the Graz site for 30 years as a buyer of development and production services with constantly increasing volumes. Above and beyond the purely economic importance, the site primarily owes this close business relationship going back several decades to its global reputation for expertise in all aspects of automotive development and production. A new contract was recently signed with Magna Steyr for continuing production of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, in which a production period lasting until 2009 was agreed, with average annual volumes of around 30,000 vehicles.

The transfer of the Graz Eurostar plant from DaimlerChrysler to Magna Steyr marks a new chapter in the success story of the two companies' decades of co-operation. Transferring production of the Voyager, which had been running extremely successfully in the Eurostar plant since 1992, to the neighboring Magna Steyr plant took only eight weeks, with final vehicle assembly being integrated into the existing Jeep Grand Cherokee production facilities in Hall 1 - an achievement that speaks for itself. The fact that the Voyager shell production line is fully equipped with Totally Integrated Automation from Siemens - from the drives right through to the automation technology with Simatic, with communication via Profibus - is also partly responsible for the smooth transition.

Siemens establishes itself as a Magna Steyr partner

Alongside the Voyager production mentioned above, two other projects using automation technology from Siemens are currently being commissioned. One is for the BMW X3, for which the bodyshop, painting and final assembly is carried out in Graz, with the production facilities being equipped with Simatic controllers and products from the Simatic HMI range for visualization. The second project involving Siemens as a partner for automation technology is the bodyshop, painting and final assembly of the new Saab 9.3 convertible. Here, Siemens has been appointed main contractor for the entire assembly line including end of line test equipment.

The main objectives of automotive production are automation concepts with life cycle optimization, provision of a stable and economical power supply and optimization of planning and control through "vertical integration" of the information flow. With Totally Integrated Automation and Simatic IT, Siemens makes it possible to meet the diverse requirements using an intelligent combination of open components based on hardware and software standards. The resulting solutions have an extremely high level of standardization and modularization - they are solutions that allow car manufacturers to meet the rapidly changing, highly demanding requirements of their customers quickly and economically.

Reliable, Productive and Economical with Totally Integrated Automation
We spoke to Wolf-Dietrich Schulz, Chairman of Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik AG, about the success of Magna Steyr and the benefits of Totally Integrated Automation.

Mr. Schulz, your list of partners is practically a "Who's Who" of the automotive industry. What makes Magna Steyr so successful as a preferred partner for the automotive industry?
Wolf-Dietrich Schulz: We are one of the few companies that have whole vehicle expertise in all sectors and are familiar with the entire product development process and the complete value chain. Our company is a technological leader in all product groups. We also offer tailored customer-specific complete solutions from the concept right through to series production; we supply development and production under one roof. We also offer important advantages with regard to such important issues as high quality, reliability, flexibility and speed of implementing projects - with an awareness of cost aspects of course.

Which companies are now your main customers?
Wolf-Dietrich Schulz: Our main customers for the production of vehicles include DaimlerChrysler for Mercedes and Chrysler products, BMW for a complete vehicle and SAAB, which is part of General Motors. In terms of components and pressed parts, we supply to almost all of the major European OEMs. In engineering and vehicle development, we work for most well known manufacturers, and we have even developed complete vehicles for them, the Audi TT for example. Our four-wheel drive division has carried out projects for almost all the OEMs.

Last summer, you transferred the entire Voyager production line from Eurostar into the Magna Steyr plant and got it running in just eight weeks. How did you manage that in such a short time?
Wolf-Dietrich Schulz: Moving the Voyager production from the Eurostar plant into the Magna Steyr plant was a huge challenge, and it was only possible thanks to detailed advance planning, well-trained staff and experience in producing the Jeep and the M class on a single line. Taking on the Eurostar staff meant that their know-how was also transferred and made an important contribution to our fast turnaround of the project. This flexibility and the extremely high level of technical knowledge set our employees apart, and they are an important element of our business concept.

What role was played by your co-operation with Siemens and the Totally Integrated Automation concept?
Wolf-Dietrich Schulz: The particular benefit of Siemens is that they are a single supplier for all products, systems and services. We have just one contact, which means that any problems that occur can be resolved much more quickly and directly. The Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) concept is an important technology due to the optimum interaction of its various components and results in excellent reliability - and therefore productivity - and lower life cycle costs. This kind of concept helps us to use our specialists flexibly and in a targeted way. But that is not all: because of the standardization and integration of concepts such as TIA, we expect synergy effects from our investments, which will lead to considerable savings in subsequent projects.