When brothers Axel and Bertil Bengtsson opened an engineering shop in Hultaberg in the South of Sweden in 1945 they probably didn’t envision it would be the starting point for a company that would be making its 66th birthday in 2011. With a business idea of manufacturing screw-vices, brassspindles and hydraulic equipment, it was a humble beginning for the company today known as SwePart Transmission.
By 1963 the company was recognised as a stable supplier of transmission parts and a decade of sales growth saw new premises built in 1970 with an 8000 square metre workshop area. The 1980s marked the company’s first foray into designing its own prototype products in conjunction with long-standing customers, thus making it a multi-faceted organisation responsible for product design, manufacturing and assembly. This move triggered large investments in technologically advanced machines and a greater focus on advancing further into the field of transmissions.
Following stagnation in business during the late 1990s, owner Hexagon undertook a reconstruction programme in 2001. This programme focused on making a number of alterations and educating employees in ways that would reinvigorate the company into an ultra-modern manufacturing organisation equipped with an engaged, motivated and highly competent workforce: “Instead of being simply a supplier to small, niche companies, the business now concentrates on attracting larger clients and has invested in equipment that has allowed it to take larger orders,” states Lars Kindesjö, managing director of SwePart Transmission.
Product design and production are the two main business areas for a company that prides itself on being a competitive manufacturer of customerunique gearboxes, precision-grounded gearwheels and transmission appliances: “The company’s key market remains Sweden where it has a very strong presence, however it is also actively seeking customers in Germany and the UK, where it is concentrating on Transmissionthe growing interest in the products it offers,” Lars continues.
The majority of SwePart Transmissions’ gears are case-hardened after hobbing and shaving and the main focus is on gears of up to 600 millimetres in diameter and modules of up to 12 millimetres. The gearbox components the company manufactures are used in the assembly of complete gearboxes and power take-offs and it also specialises in shafts with splines and geared shafts up to 2000 millimetres in length. These are sent to its own gearbox assembly units or directly to the customer for assembly into forestry, automotive and contractors’ machinery.
Key to the company’s operations is its experienced and highly competent design and development department that enables it to take total responsibility for the products it creates and produces: “This area of the business is very important as it allows SwePart Transmission to co-operate with customers to find the right solution to their problem,” Lars explains. The products made by the company are bespoke and designed precisely to the requirements of the customer, and its knowledge of design and calculation enables it to derive cost effective solutions while providing advice and information to help minimise component costs.
“The design capabilities of the company are obviously very important to its success, but equally essential to making SwePart Transmission stand out from the competition is its commitment to quality and maintaining a good delivery of service to all its customers,” Lars says, highlighting the strengths of the company. “It also has a great deal of flexibility and has some of the best production equipment, which allows it to be competitive on the European stage.”
Exciting times lie ahead for the company as it begins making headway into new industry sectors and evolves its manufacturing techniques: “SwePart Transmission is becoming more and more involved in the hybrid vehicle market,” Lars reveals. “In the last two years the company has had an increased interest in this area, designing gearboxes for hybrid vehicles, and it will be a market that will continue to grow quite rapidly in the next decade.
“From a manufacturing side of the business, the company is now working on a new method of producing gears through the use of mould technology. These moulds are filled with iron powder and are then pressed together to process the gear faster. This in turn increases productivity levels that helps meet higher consumer demands.”
In spite of tough market conditions, Lars highlights the fact that the company is well positioned to continue with its growth strategy: “With its business concept and the way it balances its strong flexibility and productivity with industry-leading equipment, SwePart Transmission has the ability to increase its business year-on-year. The company works from the Japanese way of thinking where it aims to always seek improvement throughout the business. This attitude to operations has been present for the last six years or so, has helped the company grow by leaps and bounds and will be a feature of SwePart Transmission for many years to come.”
Products: Design & manufacture gears, gearboxes & transmission systems