Full-service contract increases efficiency
A full-service contract between Seco and a tractor parts producer in France brings significant benefits to both companies.
France is the biggest agricultural power in the EU, accounting for 18 percent of the region’s agricultural production. More than half of the country’s land is used for agriculture, up to 75 percent in some parts. It is little surprise, then, that tractors are big business here.
In the town of Beauvais, the Groupement International de Mécanique Agricole, or GIMA, turns out more than 25,000 tractor transaxles each year for Claas, AGCO and Massey Ferguson. Seco has been supplying GIMA since 1996, but in 2006 the partnership really took off when Seco became the first of GIMA’s suppliers to sign a full-service contract with the company.
“We decided that the way forward for us was to simplify our machining costs and to pay per part produced rather than paying for the production itself, with a focus on reducing cycle times,” explains Matthieu Levasseur, Engineering Process Manager at GIMA. “We wanted to create a much closer partnership with our machining partner that would be more beneficial to both parties. It seemed natural to us to bring Seco on board.”
Levasseur adds that the full-service contract was a new concept in GIMA’s business. “But we viewed it as a way to improve productivity and processes, and a way to integrate Seco more closely into the heart of the GIMA production line,” he says.
GIMA uses Seco cutting tools on two production lines producing rear axle and gearbox housings for AGCO and Claas machines. These cast-iron components are complex and very long, with lengthy reaches and overhangs.
“When GIMA asked us to come up with a proposal for a full-service contract, we knew it was a risk, but we were prepared to rise to the challenge and explore this new way of working,” says Thierry Cros, Managing Director, Seco France. “It’s part of Seco’s philosophy that we are prepared to think outside of the box to better serve our customers.”
Etienne Grenier, Sales Engineer with Seco, spends about half his time with GIMA. “Our relationship with GIMA is different to our other clients because we have regular meetings and shared aims that we define together,” he says. “For 2014 our action plan involves reducing production errors. Together with GIMA we have set targets for improvement, which we are meeting. Now we are working on our plan for 2015, which will involve improvements in cycle times and cost savings. We really do work hand in hand.”
The partnership between Seco and GIMA is so close that it’s sometimes hard to see the boundaries. A year ago, Seco was provided an office on the factory floor, and a full-time Seco application engineer, Christophe Blondel, works on GIMA’s premises.
“Having a local presence is a huge asset because it means Seco is truly part of the GIMA team. We can work together on problem-solving, intervening on the spot to fix any problems as they happen,” Levasseur explains.
Since GIMA entered into a full-service contract with Seco, it has seen significant gains of up to 15 percent on cycle times. “Because Seco is here with us, there is no waiting around to set up meetings,” says Levasseur. “They are here, and they just get on with the job. It really makes our life easier because they have absorbed our corporate culture and we are always on the same page.”
Cros says, “Seco has always tried to remain one step ahead of GIMA’s needs, and with the full-service contract that is now truer than ever.” He lists various milestones in the relationship: the introduction of the Octomill® and EPB shrink-fit tooling systems at the end of the 1990’s, Precimaster™ indexable reamers in 2006, EPB Steadyline anti-vibration boring bars and rotary bushing bars in 2010, and, in 2014, Square 6™ square shoulder milling cutters.
“GIMA relies on Seco’s expertise, mastery and technological presence,” says Levasseur. “Controlling costs is a huge part of running a successful business, and that is at the forefront of what GIMA and Seco do together, every day.”
By Charles Masters Photos by Anton Renborg
The Groupement International de Mécanique Agricole (GIMA) was created in 1994 by two shareholders, American tractor manufacturer AGCO SA and Claas. GIMA makes gearboxes and rear axles for tractor transmissions that are used in a range of tractor brands, including Claas and Massey Ferguson.
GIMA in 2013:
Sales: 325 million euros
Transaxles produced: 25,394
Employees: 981 (including 118 in R&D)
Location: Beauvais, France
The full-service contract means that GIMA no longer buys tools from Seco. Instead, the company pays Seco a fee per gearbox or rear axle produced using Seco tooling. Together, they draw up annual improvement plans and work together to produce as efficiently as possible. Seco supplies tools and services as required, ensuring both they and GIMA are working as cost-effectively as possible.
Component: Transmission housing
Material: Cast iron FGL300
Machining objective: To improve productivity with a standard solution
Tool: R217 69 2040RE 18 4A Turbo milling cutter with Steadyline anti-vibration toolholder
|Cutting tool life||20 minutes||50 minutes|