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 suspension systems,” tells managing director Dick Aalderink.
Production process: efficient and increasingly sustainable
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 12,000 trailing arms (6,000 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; they are responsible for an excellent turnover, 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. “Sales of our suspension systems have skyrocketed in China. We currently have an in-house warehouse with a team of six employees in China to supply the Chinese market. The market there has grown rapidly since air suspension systems were made mandatory for the transport of hazardous substances in 2020."
Export countries: Europe, Asia, Middle East, South Africa, South America, Oceania.