Sheet Metal Forming - SEYI Machinery World-class Brand of Smart Press

SEYI Machinery World-class Brand of Smart Press

  Authors: Ming-Hsing Liu, Ssu-Chieh Wang, Chien Li,

Presses are widely used in all different industries such as automobiles, household electrical appliances, hardware, electronics, building materials, etc., for stamping sheet metal parts of different material, from pieces as small as watch pointers to ones as large as automotive cover panels and space capsules of spacecraft. The press industry has been a highly competitive industry, with hundreds of press manufacturers on the three continents of Europe, Asia, and North America with a deep manufacturing industry foundation. According to MFC statistics, there are nearly 400 large and small mechanical and hydraulic press manufacturers in China, and a few outstanding ones among them have gone overseas to participate in global competitions.

Among all Chinese press manufacturers, there is one company has been at the forefront of internationalization and has established a very high reputation in the global market, one of the best performance companies of international brands, one that has appeared frequently in the world's leading sheet metal forming exhibitions and international mainstream publications, and whose sponsorship of top level conferences is as high as the other top peers in Europe and Japan. This company is SHIEH YIH Machinery Industry Co., Ltd. from Taiwan (referred to as: SEYI Machinery) with a subsidiary company XIE YI Tech Machinery (China) Co., Ltd. in Qiandeng, Kunshan City, Jiangsu.

In the end of March 2019, the reporter of MFC "Sheet Metal Forming" Monthly interviewed General Manager Mr. Cyrus Kuo in Kunshan.

MFC: Mr. Kuo, first of all, please briefly introduce the overall status of SEYI Machinery.

Mr. Cyrus Kuo: SEYI Machinery was founded in 1962 by my father, Kuo Sheng-Hsiung. The predecessor was Shieh Yih Iron Factory, which was specialized in press production. SEYI Machinery Stocks became a listed company on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in 2002. In 2009, my father retired, and my eldest sister Madam Claire Kuo was appointed as Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer. I served as the General Manager, and fully exploited the global market with the directions of both "Technology Development" and "Brand Marketing".

The 2018 main business revenue was equivalent to RMB 850 million, of which the research and development expenses were about RMB 34 million. SEYI has earned the leading position of global press manufacturers, providing 25-4000t press products and the "Total Solution - Integrated Solution Plan" service including peripherals such as feeding machines, transporting devices, and auxiliary equipment to maximize customer's revenue.

SEYI currently has two major manufacturing bases, with the headquarters in Guishan District, Taoyuan, Taiwan with factory area of 17,000 square meters and plant area of 12,500 square meters mainly servicing the global market. The Kunshan branch of Mainland China commenced production in 2003 with factory area of 83,000 square meters and plant area of 22,000 square meters. It has the capacity of producing 2500t medium and large presses and automated production lines. There is also the Dongguan Branch and 10 service and business bases to serve the Mainland China market.

SEYI's sales website covers four continents, and has branches in the United States, Mexico, Germany, and Thailand responsible for markets in North and South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia respectively. It is worth mentioning, in September 2018, in Germany, where press manufacturing is strongest, our European subsidiary SEYI Presses Europe GmbH officially opened the European Technical Service Center in Frankfurt.

SEYI Europe was established in 2012. The competition includes a number of press lines for the automotive industry, including Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The development is very rapid, and the establishment of technical centers is also a matter of course.

MFC: The cost of internationalization is very high with high risks, and many machine tool companies are following the sales agent model. We have noticed that you have chosen the most difficult branch mode of direct investment. In addition, the employees and supply chain that your peers cultivated in China went on to become their competitors in the end. SEYI did not encounter such problems. Why?

Mr. Cyrus Kuo: Taiwan's market is limited. In order to have big development, it is destined that Taiwanese businessmen must leave Taiwan, but what to should they do when they leave?

● The first thing is to go to the world to find the market. The level of economic development of every country is different, some are in the front and some are behind. SEYI's global layout can reduce the dependence on a single market and diversify risks. So, my father took a product sample in the 1970s, flew to the United States to open up the market, set up a branch in Tennessee of the United States in 2000, became the mainstream supplier in the American stamping industry, and thus opened the global sales model. Around 2009, SEYI's exports accounted for more than 70% of sales revenue.

●  Secondly, look for the best suppliers in the world to guarantee the quality of products. In the early stages, SEYI purchased foreign parts and components directly for assembly, and later, the members of the SEYI supply chain "Cooperation Group" purchased key production parts and components of top-grade gear grinding and machining equipment from Switzerland, Germany, and Japan directly to supply the assembly of SEYI presses. Just like the "Corporation Toyota Group" and the "Prosperous Toyota Group" of the supplier system established by the automobile giant, SEYI’s "Cooperation Group" consists of 28 Taiwan and Japan parts and component suppliers who are involved in cooperative battle at the design phase of new machine tools, receive full technical and management support from SEYI, and overcome the technical difficulties of each part and component, which cost less than our own production of these parts and components, with a shorter delivery time, better performance, and no worry about leaking technical secrets. 

●  The third is to closely serve customers, with strong manufacturing capabilities and shortened delivery time to compete with traditional giants.

SEYI Overseas Technology Centers and branches are like locomotives, driving suppliers to expand their territory. Where there is a customer, that is where the service of SEYI is, understanding the customer's needs in time, developing a tailor-made plan, and introducing products that are tailored to local conditions.

Once globalized, products must be really up to the mark; otherwise the high cost of after-sales service will erode the profits. A good machine tool depends on a good working machine for processing. In recent years, the development focus of SEYI has shifted entirely from 3C electronics to the automotive parts industry, and has developed machine tools toward large scale, automation, and intelligence. For this reason, we purchased the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries MAF-RS180C series of large horizontal boring machines for the production of large tonnage presses. In addition to the large size machine with processing rack, and in addition to Mitsubishi and Toshiba equipment, we have world-class working machines such as Mitsui Seiki Kogyo and Mori Seiki of Japan. This will ensure the precision of the core components, and also ensure that we have enough production capacity to deliver orders as soon as possible, receive faster response speed than peer giants, allow customers’ orders be put into production as soon as possible, and obtain market opportunities.

In terms of technology, we cooperate with Japan's leading large-tonnage press manufacturers, hydraulic press manufacturers, and well-known universities and research institutes in Taiwan, and are guided by senior experts in business and academic circles. Both hardware and software target the European and Japanese standards, with constant improvement. Our servo technology is from the same source as the Japanese mainstream press manufacturer technology, and conducts respective repeated computing progress independently.

The branches in each country basically train their own local service teams, with really up to the mark products and meticulous service by local employees who are familiar with the local culture and language; we have become one of the few servo press manufacturers that can sell servo presses to Japan and Germany, and this is by no means due to luck.

MFC: When we visited the SEYI Kunshan Factory, we found that there are many large presses of more than 1000t being assembled. This is very different from the impression based on mid to small models we saw in the exhibition. Can you introduce your Company's product strategy?

Mr. Cyrus Kuo:  Your observation is very detailed. Around the celebration for the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Kunshan Factory in 2014, our Chairwoman announced our Canadian investment, and we made full efforts to enter the markets of automotive main engines and first-tier suppliers. The automotive industry has large investment, a long product cycle, high technical threshold, and high added value which conforms to the development positioning of SEYI. We do not pursue becoming the biggest, but want to become the best press manufacturer. At present, our customers are mainly in the automotive industry, and the percentage in the electronic industry with a short product cycle and high risk has dropped very low.

At present, SEYI can provide blanking presses, slitting lines, automated peripherals, robots, multi-station presses, large servo presses, etc.:

High Efficiency Automated Stamping Production Line: With expensive labor costs, stamping automation is an irreversible trend. SEYI provides a cross-bar transfer unit, robotic arm and NC (2D/3D) transfer unit, ABB robots, and other transfer equipment, as well as feeding, collecting, and loading equipment, capable of striving for the most efficient work and highest benefits for automotive stamping parts;

The Servo Press breaks through the design of the traditional press and flywheel brake, is equipped with a brand new world-class servo motor, and through optimized machine body rigid structure and fine precision direct drive transmission design, it provides the sliding block with arbitrary movement. Continuous low speed, high torque, and high energy to hold pressure and repeated forming can be used for stretching, and also achieves the similar effect of fineblanking cross-sections, reducing subsequent deburring processing; it can also be used for hot stamping and replacing hydraulic presses; after cooperating with perfect automatic transfer technology, the production efficiency can be increased by 50%; with continuous mold pendulum operation, the production efficiency can be increased by 100%; 

The Multi-link Press is mainly the Link Mechanical Press designed for the large-scale stamping die of the automotive industry with the characteristics of slow speed stamping, rapid return, and increased productivity compared to the traditional crank press, and it still has the advantages of straight side high rigid frames, low deformation, and it is suitable for the processing of large stamping parts forming.

In addition, there are traditional straight side presses, special application presses, and small mechanical presses, which will not be introduced one by one.

In short, SEYI provides comprehensive solutions for customers' stamping automation production lines, not only providing software and hardware, but building a complete set of intelligent stamping workshops.

In the past five years, we have been pushing large-scale automotive industry pressing production lines and promoting servo presses all over the world. The mechanical press has achieved a maximum of 2,500 tons in the Mainland China, and has the professional ability to manufacture 4000t. There are already many practical application cases of large-scale press lines, from the inner sheet metal of the second and third-tier suppliers, gradually expanding to the main engine factory and four doors, two covers, and side cover panels of the first-tier suppliers.

A special thanks to the rise of new forces in new energy automobile building; they are more willing to try new technologies and new suppliers, giving us the opportunity to enter the main engine factory. They can consequently have obtained international mainstream servo forming technology with this competitive investment, and gain advantages for the production of small-volume and multi-variety personalized customized automobiles in the future.

MFC: Servo presses are very popular in Europe, America, and Japan. They have been advocated in the Chinese market for more than ten years, but the acceptance of local parts and components companies in Mainland China is very low. What do you think is the reason? What innovations does SEYI have in the field of servo presses?

Mr. Cyrus Kuo:  The Servo Press is recognized as the future development trend in the industry. It can effectively improve the formability and precision of the product, extend the life of the mold, improve the production efficiency, reduce noise and vibration, and can stamp and form high-strength steel, aluminum-magnesium, and other alloy materials.

As an international press manufacturer, SEYI must also work hard on the servo press. In 2018, the export sales percentage of servo presses reached 30%, and the goal for 2019 is 40%.

There are many reasons for the low acceptance of servo presses in the Mainland China market. The price of servo presses is two to three times that of ordinary presses of the same tonnage. In Japan, the government has subsidies to encourage the use of servo presses, so the percentage of servo presses in new investment is very high.

In order to respond to the need for lightweight vehicles for which the performance and capacity cannot be reduced, before the emergence of servo press, the stamping factory either worked hard on materials or worked hard on the molds. No matter how hard working, the space for improvement is limited. The servo press came as the time required. It has the formability of the hydraulic press and the production efficiency of the crank/link press, giving it a larger development space for lightweight automotive stamping parts.

Stamping high-strength steel with hot stamping is one of the most effective lightweight techniques in the last decade. It generally uses hydraulic presses for stamping, which is difficult to meet the needs of mass production in the automotive industry. SEYI uses the internationally popular servo press for hot stamping, uniting mold and thermo-equipment suppliers to provide a complete thermo-stamping workshop production line, and has been successful in supplying to well-known auto parts suppliers in Japan and the United States.

SEYI makes full use of the advantages of servo presses bottom dead point to stabilize the hold of pressure, to obtain a processing quality better than that of hydraulic presses. By using the production controllable curve to shorten the robot in and out of the machine time to pick up material, the production line speed is improved, and production efficiency for the customer is improved by about 50%. SEYI has held three seminars on thermo-pressing forming in Taiwan and Mainland China to share our success stories. The hot stamping application in Mainland China is very mature, and the acceptance of main engine factories is high. I believe that the hot stamping technology of SEYI can provide the market with more options.

Unlike the Europeans and Americans, Japanese automobiles prefer cold forming of high-strength steel. SEYI uses servo presses for cold  forming tests of 1500MPa high-tensile steel plates. Through the controllability of servo motors, the punch can be processed at a low speed according to the punching curve of the set parameters. It can repeatedly forge and hold pressure for a few seconds at a specified position in a press manner, so that the material has ample time to form. The test results show that the servo press not only can improve the spring back amount problem, but also reduce the loss of molds and materials, effectively reducing the customer's production costs.

Of course, with the use of traditional molds with servo press production, often the effect is not obvious, but the amortization cost is increased. The customer must have a relatively strong stamping die matching ability, fully develop the flexible processing of various processing curves of the servo press, and have the advantages of high mass production efficiency, to produce parts and components with a complex structure, high quality requirements, and high added value that are difficult to be produced by ordinary presses.

This process requires us to work with the press, die & mold, lubrication, automation, control systems, software operations, and stamping factories together, so that the user's technicians and workers can easily get operations started, and allow bosses in Mainland China who pay attention to immediate interests to see the benefits, thus, I believe that the Mainland China market will rise up sooner or later.

In foreign countries, the expansions of many customers are not as fast as those in China, and equipment upgrades are not as frequent as those in China. Investment must be considered for future applicability. However, once they realize the benefits of the servo press, just like taking drugs, they cannot extricate themselves from their addiction. In Taiwan, on behalf of the Company, I donated one servo press to the National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology and another to National Chiao Tung University for technique research and talents training, using servo techniques to create more processing possibilities and making them applicable in production.

MFC: Nowadays, the whole world is talking about intelligent manufacturing. This topic is also very popular in the stamping industry. What progress has SEYI Machinery made?

Mr. Cyrus Kuo:  In terms of reducing manufacturing costs, Taiwan companies are probably the first in the world, but the potential for this kind of reduction has limitations. From early on, we had a metaphor for imagery, that is, we must make a single machine grow a nervous system, and also network with the nervous system of other machines to achieve synergistic intelligent production.

The intelligent manufacturing production line that SEYI understands needs to have high flexible production capability to meet the real time switching of a variety of products, rapid production adjustment, shortening the non-production time before the first piece is output; and to ensure stable quality consistency that needs to rely on real time control of the production process, as well as timely adjustment and the actual maintenance of the equipment.

SEYI first constructed intelligent devices connected the production equipment to the Internet through "machine networking", and further utilized the large quantity of necessary information and data from the equipment feedback to make real time adjustments to the equipment and production status. In order to achieve the best production performance, it is necessary to integrate the production schedule and the automatic adjustment of the operation process in order to achieve efficient and flexible production objectives according to market changes.

SEYI provides an integrated stamping production management system. The main functions include:

● The Forming Application System is used for managing production resources of molds and equipment production conditions. Incorporate the repair and maintenance of the equipment and molds, plan and record the execution status. It can ensure healthy and stable operation of the production line, and adjust the optimal production plan by accumulating actual production experience values.

● The Production Line Diagnostic System is used to monitor the production process, ensure quality, and improve overall operation performance. In addition to detecting changes in production conditions, it also grasps the health status of equipment and immediately predicts the quality of the product, to support the high achievement rate of the production plan.

●  The Production Line Maintenance System developed a diagnostic Repair and Maintenance System to replace the scheduled maintenance with changes in production conditions and related information between all maintenance operations. It can pre-schedule preventive repair and maintenance during non-production time, and also includes graphic-text instructions for troubleshooting, to reduce downtime by rapid recovery, and to accumulate equipment maintenance experience to form the basis for maintenance intelligence.

●The Management Support System integrates scheduling requirements and capacity planning to make the most efficient schedules and is capable of re-arranging the production schedules at any time in response to order changes. Direct access to information via the machine network, from the production real-time progress and utilization rate management functions, to the control of the efficiency of the entire production line of equipment to improve the performance of production capacity utilization.  

SEYI Machinery combines ICT information and communication technology to provide intelligent manufacturing solutions, and also builds a global networked service support system to become a strong support in supporting customers. Use the network to connect with customer equipment and the database in the SEYI factory to obtain the real-time status of the equipment, and provide online customer equipment adjustment and repair and maintenance services to improve equipment utilization rate.

Intelligent manufacturing is optimized from a single machine application to the optimization of the overall production resources applications, and will eventually be connected with the overall supply chain to enhance the system competitiveness through the Internet. SEYI Machinery contributes to the field knowledge of the equipment manufacturing factory, combined with customer's experience in stamping techniques to construct the intelligent service system, and works side by side to improve system competitiveness with customers. All of these efforts ultimately show that customers are dominant in competition and earn profits that exceed their peers in the industry.

MFC: Thank you for accepting the interview with MFC. Let us have an in-depth understanding of SEYI's status. I believe that the stamping parts companies in the automotive industry will be very interested. Finally, please talk about your views on the stamping market.

Mr. Cyrus Kuo:  Affected by the economic slowdown, we feel that bulk consumption is downgrading, but the consumption of industrial products is upgrading. The automation, information, and intelligence based stamping equipment industry has just begun to respond to the challenges of increasing wages and cost of leases, difficulty in recruiting workers, and intensified competition.

According to the data of customs, the import volume of metal forming machine tools in China is much larger than that of metal cutting machine tools, and the automation rate is much higher than that of the latter, because stamping is much easier to automate.

In 2018, due to the China-US trade war, the demand of Mainland slowed down, and users were mostly waiting to see the results of the negotiations, which had a certain impact on our business performance. In view of the current situation in 2019, there are not many differences between China and the United States. A trade agreement will be reached soon. The trend of foreign-invested manufacturing companies moving to Southeast Asia that we have been worried about will slow down. This is good news for the stamping industry in the Mainland. The global market of SEYI is about the same as that of 2018, and the proportion of servo press exports is increasing. New energy vehicles in the Mainland are still developing rapidly, and investment in 5G has also started in full scale, thereby, development of the metal forming industry is limitless. We at SEYI Machinery are willing to help the transformation and upgrade of stamping industry.