Growing demands of the aerospace industry
Three questions for special steel producer Ugitech
Competitive pressure in the aerospace industry is rising. Likewise, manufacturers are facing stricter legal requirements worldwide. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are to be reduced by 75 percent per passenger kilometer by 2050 - according to the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe. Consequently, the components in engines and landing gear must achieve higher efficiencies. One prerequisite is a special steel of the highest quality available at a competitive price. Our editor spoke to Claude Bourret, specialties department manager at Ugitech, a SCHMOLZ + BICKENBACH Group subsidiary, about the challenges facing suppliers to the aerospace industry.
Editor: Mr. Bourret, what do you consider the future challenges facing suppliers to the aerospace industry?
Claude Bourret: The technical demands for material performance in aerospace applications are rising. A modern airplane must be capable of withstanding very extreme loads. When a vehicle weighing around 600 tons is accelerated to more than 260 km/h within a matter of seconds, temperatures and pressure are very high. To ensure the constant functionality and safety of the machine, components are needed that are extremely resistant to corrosion and robust. To continue to lower fuel consumption in the future, these components must be designed to be lighter without sacrificing quality. The prerequisite is a high performance special steel. Good availability even of small batch sizes, delivery flexibility and, naturally, pricing also play a decisive role. This is why close cooperation between suppliers and the entire value-add chain is becoming more and more important. Concentrating on core competence is a cornerstone of efficiency both in terms of time and costs. By entering into partnerships, entire process steps from the raw material to the component to the machine itself can be designed reliably and to be competitive.
Editor: What does that mean for steel producers who want to be able to play in the top league of the aerospace industry?
Claude Bourret: We are already noticing that there is a general tendency today among major aircraft manufacturers to only work with a very few system suppliers. For suppliers always to remain a step ahead of the competition, steel producers must work together and on equal footing with OEMs to develop better performing components. This means that supporting product developments on the material side in the aerospace industry will become even more important in future. A competitive steel producer has the necessary capacities, in respect to knowledge of the behavior of steel in the application, state-of-the-art technology for steel production and for testing prototypes as well as to the structured processes for a cost-efficient supply chain.
Editor: What do you offer at Ugitech to meet the growing demands of the aerospace industry?
Claude Bourret: As a producer of special steel, we are dedicated to supplying innovation and quality. And we do: we operate the steel industry’s most state-of-the-art research centre. Our team of developers is constantly working to improve existing steel grades and testing new product solutions. Yet we never lose sight of the increasing demands of aerospace component suppliers and manufacturers. We work with cutting-edge technologies at our steel plants, like the electro slag remelting furnaces. This allows us to produce consistently high-quality stainless steel solutions – on request at the highest level of purity. We have also instituted an integrated management system to be able to provide excellence in methodology and also small quantities at attractive prices. This is how we configure our processes from steel production to delivery precisely and efficiently for the high and very specific quality requirements of our customers. Our references are proof that we are on the right track. We produce special steel for well-known manufacturers such as Airbus, Airbus Helicopter, SAFRAN Group (Messier Bugatti-Dowty, Aircelle, Hispano Suiza, Sagem, Turbomeca), Skf Aerospace, Snecma, Dassault Aviation, PCC Fasteners, Alcoa, Lisi Aerospace and Zodiac.
Editor: Mr. Bourret, thank you for your time.
About Ugitech S.A.
Ugitech is one of the leading manufacturers of stainless steel long products worldwide. The company's main products include billets, bar stock, wire rod, drawn wire that the company produces in its own steel mill and in its rolling mills and wire-drawing plants. The stainless steels are known for their excellent mechanical properties. They are used to manufacture a wide range of parts, such as e.g. valves, turbine components, welding wire or surgical instruments. With over 100 years of experience in steel production and ongoing metallurgical research, the company guarantees optimum steel solutions for demanding applications for its customers in the automotive, construction, process and aviation industries and medical technology.
About SCHMOLZ + BICKENBACH
The SCHMOLZ + BICKENBACH Group is one of the world’s leading providers of customised solutions in the specialty steel long products business. A global name in tool steel and stainless long steel, the Group is one of the two largest companies in Europe for alloy and high-alloy engineering steel. With around 10,000 employees at its own production and distribution companies in 38 countries on five continents, the company supports and supplies customers wherever they operate. In addition to the comprehensive Production and Sales & Services portfolio, customers benefit from the company’s technological expertise, consistent high quality worldwide and in-depth knowledge of local markets.
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