Tata Steel unveils new UK tailor welded blanks line
the new line trebles the site's capacity for tailor welded blanks
Tata Steel has unveiled its latest line for tailor welded blanks at the company's Automotive Service Centre in Wednesfield, West Midlands, marking 21 years of the site processing and distributing steel products.
The opening comes after UK car production reached a 17-year high in 2016, due in part to exceptional global demand. Recent figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 1.7m cars were built in the UK last year, with a large portion (78.8%) of those being exported. Tata Steel plays a key role in the UK automotive manufacturing supply chain, with a large part of its high quality steels processed at the Wednesfield site for its wide OEM and subcontractor customer base.
One of only a few in the world, the new line trebles the site's capacity for tailor welded blanks, adding to the existing high-throughput line that provides linear and non-linear/2D processes. It is claimed to be the most efficient, fastest machine in the UK and possesses the largest volume producing capacity. Tata Steel's Automotive Service Centre – part of the company's 'Steelpark' site – has been producing tailor welded blanks since their initial development in the 1990s with the new line heralding the latest phase of investment in the site which has totalled GBP20m in the last three years.
Tata Steel's automotive activity stretches over a number of the company's UK sites, ultimately supplying high-quality steel products to customers on shorter lead-times. Its UK facilities manufacture hot rolled and cold rolled steel at Port Talbot, before reaching the Llanwern site where the material is galvanised at the Zodiac plant. Following that, the process-ready steel can either be supplied to vehicle manufacturers directly, or sent to sites such as Wednesfield for processing through one of its many automotive-market focused production lines.
Malcolm Boyles, managing director distribution UK & Ireland, said: "The latest investment greatly increases our capabilities here in the UK, and means we can continue to increase our supply of high-quality steel parts not only to the UK supply chain but to other customers across Europe. We are able to offer our automotive customers a complete, highly-specialised service, and can work with them at any stage of the production process based on their internal capabilities."
The new line at the Automotive Service Centre provides high-quality tailor welded blanks to several car manufacturers with manufacturing operations in the UK and across Europe. The facility's range of outputs for automotive applications comprises body sides, door panels, bonnets and side impact bars, while the wider Wednesfield site services other key non-auto UK market sectors.
Of the site's export credentials, Boyles adds: "This high value processing capability we have invested in is enabling us to secure business from automotive customers in Europe, with products now being supplied to customers in Germany, France and the Netherlands. The enhanced capability makes us not only more competitive but offers customers unique design, inspection and blank marking features that premium brand manufacturers are increasingly demanding."
just-auto is attending the unveil event and further reports will follow