With recent investments exceeding NOK 20 million, Hydro Karmøy is positioning itself to be a major supplier of aluminium to the European automotive industry.
A decision was made this week to install new equipment for ultrasonic testing of foundry products from the extrusion ingot casthouse in Karmøy, Norway. With the new equipment in place, together with a newly installed ceramic filter, Hydro Karmøy will strengthen its position as supplier of advanced aluminium alloys to the automotive industry.
Necessary for safety-critical components
"Automakers are using aluminium in an increasing number of components to reduce vehicle weight to meet the strict emission requirements introduced by governments in Europe and other parts of the world. Particularly the metal used in safety-critical parts requires documented high quality. It is this market we are now aiming for," says the plant manager at Hydro Karmøy, Trond Olaf Christophersen.
The ceramic filter removes unwanted elements from the metal, thereby increasing its purity. Ultrasonic testing takes place after the casting process, and provides first and foremost quality control and adequate documentation, according to casthouse manager Asle Voll.
"Automakers set strict requirements for us to document that there are no flaws in the ingots we produce. While we have previously only had equipment to manually test ingots, we can now test the entire cross section of the products using an automated process," he says.
Tests entire cross section of the ingots
Hydro installed similar equipment earlier at the recycling plant in Rackwitz in Germany. The testing is carried out by several ultrasonic probes scanning the ingot while it moves forward in a rotating motion. In this way the entire cross section of the cylindrical ingot is examined. The data from the testing is then stored and made available to customers upon delivery.
"Leading automakers require that we use ultrasonic testing if, for example, we want to deliver metal for the suspension on their cars. We expect that more and more will follow suit with similar requirements," says Andreas Skodvin, who is responsible for marketing, sales and customer relations for extrusion ingot for the European market.
Major Hydro investments for the automotive industry
Hydro is also making investments in Høyanger and Årdal aimed at the automotive industry. By installing flexible and adjustable molds (AFM), the casthouses in Sogn are able to supply ingots of alloys that were not possible to produce with existing equipment. This metal typically ends up in the hoods or side panels of vehicles, while the metal from Karmøy is used in extruded parts such as bumpers, piping systems and posts.
Including the investments in Årdal, Høyanger and Karmøy, Hydro has over the last eighteen months invested over NOK 100 million in the Norwegian casthouse system to meet the growing demand for aluminium from the automotive industry. This is in addition to EUR 130 million Hydro is investing in a new production line for automotive parts at the rolling mill in Grevenbroich, Germany.
The implementation of ultrasonic testing in Karmøy is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of next year.