Number 140 is ready

Bocar, Mexico

Alfredo Davila and Ueli Jordi have been working in the automotive industry for years to increase the competitiveness of Bocar. As a Tier 1 supplier, the company must respond quickly and flexibly to ever new requirements for automobile manufacturers. A trusting cooperation and innovative solutions from Bühler help Bocar survive in this fiercely competitive market.

 

"We did well. Number 140 is ready," says Alfredo Davila, Head of Processes at Bocar, to his neighbor. He is standing with his team in the giant Bocar factory hall, located at the gates of Saltillo in the Mexican state of Coahuila. At its highest point, the hall reaches 20 meters. Davila places his hands on his hips, stretches, and regards the most recent addition to his machinery with appreciation: a Bühler die-casting machine from the Carat 220 series. Davila’s calm and kind gaze does not reveal the stresses of everyday life or the pressure from his customers, the car manufacturers. Before him, the Carat stands like a stoic giant. It is 130 tonnes heavy, 13 meters wide, 5 meters tall, and has a clamping force of 2,200 tonnes. Even under the harshest conditions it operates safely and reliably. Stairs lead to the heart of the machine: the closing unit, which will create body parts for a leading automobile manufacturer by the minute.

A specially constructed vehicle transports the liquid aluminum and pours it into the ladling furnace. The vehicle seems tiny next to the die-casting titan. The shimmering raw material flows from the tilted transport vessel and briefly transforms the production hall in a place of metamorphosis, where liquid raw material is transfigured into any shape. The machine now closes and the 

melt is cast under high pressure with a loud bang in a die-cast mold within 50 milliseconds. As the melt solidifies inside, the machine seems to pause. Davila holds his breath. Time stands still. Finally, the closing unit opens and an industrial robot removes the newly created body part. A second robotic arm subsequently cleans the mold. The sprayed water evaporates in a hissing cloud of steam. But that is not all. The next cycle is lined up and the customer is in a rush. His production lines must never stop.

Ueli Jordi, Process Consultant at Bühler, stands beside Davila. He calmly watches the process. His decades of experience in die casting give him assurance and certainty of being able to solve any problem. Together with his partner and friend Alfredo. Under their guidance, the new Carat was delivered to Mexico and installed. It is, however, by no means the first delivery. Bocar has relied exclusively on die-casting machines from Bühler since 1958. And yet each delivery holds new challenges. The first, second, tenth, and this one as well, the 140th machine that Bühler has supplied to Bocar over nearly 60 years. Davila looks at Jordi. "Let’s celebrate," he says. "We can be proud. The team did an outstanding job. We deserve a feast."

«One partnership stands out in particular: the one with Bühler.»

— Alfredo Davila, Head of Processes at Bocar

Unique partnership since 1958
In the beginning, there was one sin-gle machine. In 1958, Bühler delivered the first die-casting machine to Bocar, then still a small company in Mexico City founded by German immigrant Federico Baur. "A lot has happened since 1958," says Davila. Bocar, the name made up of "Bombas" and "Carbonadores" – pumps and carburetors – is now one of the leading suppliers in the automotive industry in Mexico. The company supplies popular car brands around the world. Based on an idea, the founder created a company that now features 6,000 employees, 10 production sites throughout Mexico and development offices at the centers of the automotive industry: Detroit, Wolfsburg, and Yokohama.

Long-term relationships and stability form the company’s DNA, which is still owned by the Baur family. These values are essential to Bocar, and the company asks their suppliers also to adhere to them. "With the extremely high competitive pressure in the automotive industry, it is decisive to have strong relationships with partners. And one partnership in particular stands out: Bühler," says Davila. "The pressure in the industry is high. We can’t afford to make any mistakes. Trust is very important. Trust in Bühler and in Ueli." Jordi nods. He knows the conditions in the automotive industry all too well and values the trust of his long-standing partner.

Changes became necessary
Ueli Jordi has worked for over 35 years in the die-casting industry, and since 2000, more and more for his customer Bocar. The former head of training at Bühler first started with conducting customer trainings at the Mexican 

company. The ability to help Bocar improve its processes and increase productivity with their expertise is something that the Bocar management was well aware of. Consequently, Marcus Baur, the founder’s son and today’s President, one day handed Jordi a list of 11 problems. "Can you help us?" he asked. Shortly thereafter, Jordi took over the key account management for Bocar.

At this time, Mexico had long since become an industrial nation. With the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the country had access to the largest free trade area in the world. Meanwhile, Mexico’s economy occupies the 14th place worldwide. Step by step, many international companies set up manufacturing sites in Mexico. GM, Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and many more, all relying on hecho en méxico. Along with the new manufacturers, the demands on the suppliers grew. This played into the hands of Bocar, for the company had always – with Bühler machines – focused on the highest quality in order to meet or exceed the tolerance limits of the original manufacturers. "With new customers, international standards, and economic growth in Mexico, our situation changed significantly," said Davila. "In terms of costs, we compete with suppliers from Asia, particularly from China. With regards to quality and delivery reliability, our customers demand the highest standards and strictly penalize any deviation from the original drawings. And in order to keep our employees, we must also be a superior employer." Some 50 years after the company’s founding, it became clear that Bocar had to fundamentally revise its processes, in order to be successful in the market in the long term.

 

The latest addition to Bocar’s machinery: a Bühler die-casting machine Carat 220.

Therefore, Jordi’s great strength became the decisive factor: education and training. Davila is convinced that this was decisive for their success: "The training is intensive and takes several weeks, spread throughout one full year. We wanted to enhance the profile of the machine operators, thus giving support and recognition to those who ensure that the die casting machines function properly every day. We also don’t call them operators anymore, but cell technicians in order to give the change a name." With these measures, Bocar became more productive and competitive. Productivity increased by 15 % over three years, which is equivalent to about two hours more operating time per machine. And the changes had also an impact on staff: Satisfaction increased with the cell technicians, and they stayed longer with the company.

Through initial success and fruitful cooperation with the team in Mexico, Jordi focused more and more on his work at Bocar. "In the beginning, I visited Alfredo’s team in Mexico perhaps four times a year. By 2016, this had turned into nine visits, usually for two weeks. And our cooperation became continually closer. I’m slowly becoming part of Bocar," the longtime Bühler employee says and laughs, almost embarrassed. Since the beginning of the year, he has been 100% responsible for the company after handing over all other mandates. He is well-known in Saltillo as well as at the other sites and is warmly greeted by all sides. The staff at Bocar appreciate his experience and his persistent way of solving problems. And when he is not in Mexico, his internal clocks run in accordance with this North American country. "My day

starts a little later, but because of the time difference, it also takes significantly longer. When I am in Switzerland, I maintain contact by teleconferencing daily with my partners, primarily Alfredo," says Jordi. "For new developments, I am close to the action and can incorporate the latest innovations from Bühler.

We have been using 3D printing, for example, for very complex die-casting molds for nearly a decade." At the moment, teams are working to reduce the amount of cool-ing water from currently up to five liters per cycle to just a few milliliters. This will save considerably more than 1,000 liters per machine per day and is so economically and ecologically sensible that Jordi did not need much to convince his partner to take on the necessary development costs.

Davila, Jordi and the core team at Bocar Saltillo celebrate the successful commissioning of the new Carat as is customary for a Mexican family: with a barbecue outdoors. This marks the completion of a successful project. And no one questions whether and how things will continue. Because the new machine hall in Saltillo has only been filled halfway so far. Bocar has planned further development and the necessary investments well in advance. Upcoming die-casting machines from Bühler have already been ordered. Jordi and Davila raise their glasses and toast one another. To the next project. To number 141. To a continued successful cooperation. As trusted partners.

© Buhler Group 2016        Disclaimer        Contact        http://www.buhlergroup.com