VDL Weweler develops and produces air suspension- and axle lift systems for manufacturers of axles, trailers, trucks and busses. VDL Weweler’s products are sold worldwide to international clients in the automotive industry. “We are the only spring manufacturer in Europe, and maybe the world that also develops and produces its own spring systems,” tells managing director Dick Aalderink.
Newly developed production process
VDL Weweler is located in a modern factory-hall at the Ecofactorij business-park since 2013. Remarkably the factory’s process has been developed from scratch. They worked closely with another Apeldoorn company: Hollander Techniek, for the technical installation. The production process has been modernized extensively. “Automation and process control is our new core competence, next to product development,” according to Aalderink. The essence is the ability to roll the spring-steel three-dimensionally. This rolling process is fully automated through robots, which makes it easy to produce in small batches. We shortened the production of one trailing arm from ten days to only one day. Thanks to this 8000 trailing arms (4000 spring systems) per week can be produced. “We are able to compete with ‘low-pay countries’, continue growth and stay in Apeldoorn thanks to our efficient production techniques,” tells Aalderink. “We did not only become more efficient, but also more sustainable. By eliminating a heating-step and through process optimization we save up to 45% on energy compared to the old process.”
About 190 employees work in Apeldoorn, together they take care of a revenue of about 90 million Euros per year, of which over 90% in export. VDL Weweler, part of the industrial family concern VDL group in Eindhoven, has a European market share of almost 40%. Worldwide their share in sales of air suspension systems for trucks and trailers is around 20% and growing. “Our new markets are mainly countries and companies switching from mechanical to air suspension. But entering new markets requires a lot patience, it takes a lot of sowing before you can reap the rewards in such a market,” according to Aalderink. The most important growth market is Southeast-Asia. “We doubled our sales for the third year in a row in China. At the moment we are working on setting up our own stockroom in China, to service the market from there. We hope to have this new undertaking up and running at the end of 2017.”
Export countries: Europe, Asia, Middle-East, South-Africa, South-America, Oceania.