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Cost-effective high speed Production for Fasteners in Titanium for the automotive industry

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PROFIT (Cost-effective high speed Production for Fasteners in Titanium for the automotive industry)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-01-31

Founded in 1950 Poggipolini is a specialist in technical weight reduction solutions, critical components and structural fastening systems. Our full service capabilities range from engineering and R&D to system integration and final turnkey packaging using the most technological equipment and processes available.

The ProFiT project is an automated, high-speed, high-volume, continuous manufacturing method for titanium alloy bolts. This makes them practicable in applications where previously they have been overlooked or rejected as too expensive.

This feasibility study, conducted from Oct 2014 to Jan 2015, has been made to consolidate the financial and market data, and to prove the technical aspects. This has included freedom-to-operate and risk analyses, market evaluation, defining the technical specifications, prototype testing, financial forecasting of various production scenarios and planning through to full-scale production.

The key market for ProFiT initially will be the automotive sector. The weight saving benefits of ProFiT will help manufacturers achieve their obligations regarding fuel economy and emissions. The volume of this market requires a manufacturing process such as ProFiT and affords important economies of scale. Already in use on super-luxury and super-performance cars, ProFiT will make titanium bolts feasible for less exclusive cars, ultimately allowing the technology to “trickle down” to mass-production cars.

We are already an approved supplier to a number of our target customers in the key market for ProFiT. We know the sector well and make parts for several luxury and supercar marques. We are in discussions with one of the world’s largest automotive groups with respect to specific projects that could be fulfilled using ProFiT.

A small scale prototype of the ProFiT manufacturing process has been tested and worked perfectly, producing small bolts and rivets that fully comply with specifications. An estimated budget of approximately €3.5 million is required to scale-up the prototype and integrated systems, making ProFiT production ready. This has the potential to make a tremendous impact for Poggipolini and its customers, reaching over €30M in turnover by 2020.
During our 4-month Feasibility Study, and based on the original Work Plan proposed in the Phase 1 proposal, we have carried out the following work:
1. Technical Viability Plan
Our team has carried on the technical work, moving from the initial test and trials at small-scale towards the preparation of the industrial ProFiT process. This has included detailed design of the forging machine, technical drawings of the fasteners for the production (following the different stamping stages), engineering specifications for the heat treatment and automatic thread rolling machines, preparation of the facilities (layout). Following these developments, a preliminary RAMS and Risk analysis has been conducted to ensure that no issues have been left aside and thus that future development will be with a low and controlled risk. Our team has prepared a complete Execution Plan for the development and exploitation and the industrial size ProFiT process; we also discussed and secured the required third party subcontractors to support us in the development of the industrial ProFiT process.
2. Commercial Plan
In order to have a full and clear picture of the potential market, we have performed a detailed market survey of the targeted market – Automotive –, focusing on the standard cars above 50,000 Euros. This has included the study of the competitors along with the market trends to confirm our Unique Selling Points.
Furthermore, a complete Freedom-to-Operate was performed to search for existing IP rights that could infringe with our technology. This analysis has confirmed the novelty of ProFiT and the absence of any existing thread for its exploitation. The adaptation for ProFiT to comply with NADCAP requirements, which is of interest for the Aerospace sector, has been considered.
3. Financial feasibility
Several scenarios have been detailed and developed, leading to consolidated financial projections for the 2017-2020 period with highly positive turnover increase.
Different sources of funding have been evaluated as well, leading to our decision to present a Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 in March 2015.
Born from a need to reduce titanium fasteners manufacturing and production costs to allow industrial sectors such as the automotive to exploit their high strength and low density for car building, our ProfiT process will have a strong socio-economic impact.
For Poggipolini, ProFiT will allow us to grow, achieving by 2020 a turnover of 20M€ (Profit only).
For the automotive industry and the general public, the widespread use of light titanium fasteners in cars will enable an increase of performances and a significant reduction of fuel consumption and thus of emissions (e.g. NOX, CO, PM), while reducing mechanical failures.