|In 1905, Julius Friedrich Behr established a small workshop for the manufacture of auto radiators. This represented the first step in what would be a unique corporate story, and one that continues right up to the present day. In fiscal 2003, Behr employed around 16,100 staff at 30 R&D and production locations in Europe, North and South America, South Africa, and Asia, and posted sales of approximately 3 billion euros. In the last ten years alone, the sales of the Behr Group have more than tripled. In the process, the company has still managed to retain the advantages of a medium-size company culture. These include flexibility, the avoidance of unnecessary bureaucratic procedures, employee trust and empowerment, all of which has been of great benefit to Behr customers. |
The Behr Group - systems partner to the international automotive industry
"Top performance in vehicle air conditioning and engine cooling": by living up to this claim, we have become a much sought-after partner to the automotive industry around the world. As a systems supplier of environment-friendly vehicle air conditioning and engine cooling systems, we are one of the leading OE suppliers in the passenger car and truck sectors, and are No. 1 in Europe. Behr technology promotes the safety, health, and driving comfort of drivers and passengers in approximately 30% of all air-conditioned vehicles in Europe. The Behr brand is also firmly established in the field of thermal management for modern engines. Every fourth new car in Europe is now fitted with an engine cooling system made by our company. Additionally, we are systematically consolidating our position in the markets of North and South America, South Africa, and Asia.
New key competence for the supplier of tomorrow
The more automakers reduce their real net output ratio (value added) and intensify outsourcing, the higher the expectations they have for suppliers. The range of requirements is broad and varied, but it can be summed up as a single key competence: integration. This means the integration of components into modules or functional systems that are ready to install, as well as the coordination and monitoring of subcontractors as part of a comprehensive supplier management process. Finally, the process of intensifying cooperation with other suppliers within the context of joint development projects and joint ventures presents us with a further task: the integration of cooperation partners. We view these challenges as an opportunity to win new market shares, and that is why we have already taken strategic steps to refine our integration skills still further.
From a components specialist to a module supplier and systems developer
Heat exchanger components such as radiators, condensers, and evaporators have been part of Behr´s core business operations for decades. Since the 1980s, we have also been supplying modules, or in other words component assemblies. The heat exchangers are combined with the appropriate airflow and control system technologies to form complete HVAC and engine cooling modules. This allows their thermodynamic and aerodynamic properties to be matched more precisely, which means a corresponding reduction in the level of development and assembly work for our customers.
Modularization of the entire vehicle: front modules and cockpit submodule
For several years now, we have been working on a new level of integration: the development of large modules. In collaboration with Hella, for example, we have taken responsibility for supplying the complete front end of the vehicle that surrounds our engine cooling module. This extends to lighting, the bumper, and the assembly carrier. Following the same principle, we are also developing what is known as the thermo-structure module as a cockpit submodule. For our customers, these new developments offer benefits in terms of reductions in costs, packaging space, and weight, as well as offering new opportunities to simplify assembly and logistics procedures.
Physical integration: total systems
Many automakers are focusing more closely on their core competencies for vehicle development. At Behr, we see this trend as an opportunity to prove our skills at developing functionally integrated systems. The entire air conditioning system package covers cabin airflow, refrigerant and heating circuits, dash controls, and the control system. The full engine cooling system encompasses cooling air, coolant, oil, charge air, exhaust, and the control system. The crucial factors in this area are the physical design of the circuits and the specifications for the components - in short, a thorough understanding of the individual components´ contribution to the overall system. Validating the overall systems requires the introduction of new simulation software and the construction of new test facilities. But a prerequisite for developing such a system is also to have a highly developed project management process in place. The benefit of all of these measures for our customers lies in engineering synergies within the overall system, which result in improved performance and reduced costs.
Integration means service
There is one particular requirement for taking overall responsibility for modules and systems: as well as having the technological competence, the supplier must also have a high degree of service orientation. This is because the supplier is then responsible for the efficient and results-oriented processing of the entire value-added chain within its area of responsibility. Behr´s first step is to carry out the entire development in close consultation with the customer. We assume responsibility for the purchasing of components that do not originate from our own net output, and coordinate all the subcontractors involved. The pre-assembled modules are then ready for shipment to the automaker, where they are installed on the production lines. But the service component does not end here; Behr takes full responsibility for meeting the cost targets jointly agreed with the customer and for complying with the provisions set out in the engineering requirements specifications.
BEHR GmbH & Co. KG
Further information: http://www.behrgroup.com