Since it was established in 1968, Scania Ferruform has gone from being a manual workshop to a high-tech centre of production for rear-axle housing, side members and pressing of chassis details for trucks and buses. Here, we tell the story of what has become an institution in Luleå, Sweden’s city of steel.
From its humble beginnings as Scania Chassis Components half a century ago, Ferruform today has 650 employees, and the production plant has grown from a simple workshop to a 45,000-square metre factory. About 200 different components are manufactured on site, which together can literally carry the entire truck.
From primitive conditions to major investment
That’s quite a change from the company’s rather modest inauguration back in 1968. At the launch, Plant Manager Erland Lindkvist admitted, “During the years it took to get ready for starting production, we worked in very primitive conditions. I sat in a shed and kept a large part of the money we needed for investment in one cashbox.”
This bijoux arrangement wouldn’t last. The plant would soon have a new sidemember press that could exert a force of 4,200 tonnes, and there was much more investment to come in the years ahead.
By the early 1980s, further machine and equipment investment saw the addition of a new rear-axle housing press and a remodelling of the welding robot, among others.
Facing the challenges of the ‘90s
After a record year in 1989, the new decade saw a fall in demand as the Swedish economy slowed down.
Yet, following a difficult few years the factory recovered in 1994 with a record-breaking bounceback: production figures improved by 50 percent on 1989!
Luleå also became the first site in the Scania family to review the impact of its site on the environment, setting up an environmental management system that was the basis for it obtaining an ISO 14001 certification.
21st century technology, and a name change
As the business entered the 21st century, Scania transformed the Luleå business into a wholly-owned subsidiary. Out went the Scania Chassis Components name, in came the new identity of Ferruform AB.
The initial reason for the name change was to attract external commissions, but market developments meant that by 2004 Ferruform was totally focused on Scania’s own production needs.
With a new century came new technology too. The first laser welder for shaft journals was installed, the result of a collaboration with Luleå Technical University. Scania Ferruform also became the first company in the world to use laser welding at a material thickness of up to 15 millimetres.
At the start of 2011, the new welding cells for rear-axle housing were put in place. With the completion of the new axle flow, Ferruform could meet a capacity of 100,000 vehicles a year. This means that 125,000 axle housing per year, or 2,150 per week can be produced at the Luleå plant. The remaining axle housings are manufactured at the factory in São Paulo, Brazil.
Here’s to the next 50 years!
Nowadays, the Luleå region is at the forefront in the Swedish IT sector, although the products in the NTG truck look much like their predecessors. Nonetheless, there are new elements which indicate where development is heading. As the transport world responds to the need for green technology, more components are being made with new techniques.
“There will be a need for chassis that are strong and light to carry another kind of powertrain than today, where the axles will probably look quite different,” says Scania Ferruform CEO Jan Trolleberg.
Although a truck will always need a chassis, the questions are how it will look and how it will be manufactured. But, with 50 years of knowledge and experience, Ferruform will be able to answer those questions, ensuring a continuing access to the right technology and solutions for Scania.
- 1965 Scania gets the government’s permission to use investment funds to build a sheet metal and press shop in Luleå.
- 1968 The Luleå workshop opens, with about 100 employees.
- 1983 A major investment in new machinery and equipment is made.
- 1987 A new welding robot is installed in the framework workshop.
- 1993 Scania celebrates 25 years in Luleå.
- 1995 Robot painting of rear-axle bridges in new painting plant is introduced.
- 2015 A major fire affects the pre-treatment facility for the cross-beam measurement.
- 2018 Scania Ferruform celebrates 50 years.