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Partnership enables local manufacture of vehicle sealing, acoustic solutions

An image depicting Henkel and Hudson Rubber signing the agreement at the recent NAACAM Show 2023.

SEALING THE DEAL Henkel and Hudson Rubber signing the agreement at the recent NAACAM Show 2023. From left: Sharlene Brits, Henkel South Africa key account manager; Paul Bergset, Henkel South Africa head of sales IND solutions and durable goods; Alida van Bruggen, Hudson Rubber director; and Stoney Steenkamp, Hudson Rubber MD.

8th December 2023

     

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Chemicals and consumer goods company Henkel South Africa is partnering with Hammanskraal-based rubber and plastics manufacturer Hudson Rubber, in Gauteng, to locally fabricate Henkel’s vehicle rubber sealing and acoustic solutions for original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicle panel reinforcing, noise reduction and vibration protection.

Henkel’s patented technology of two- and three-dimensional sealing and acoustic solutions, along with damping materials for the body shop, provide robust noise, vibration and harshness protection.

These solutions ensure protection against water and other environmental elements that can disrupt passenger comfort and reduce vehicle performance.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Hudson Rubber to produce vehicle sealing and acoustic solutions for our customers in South Africa. We continue to ensure unrivalled quality and performance of our adhesive products that bind excellence with reliability.

“The innovative technology supplied by Henkel China, as a rubber-based material, is an expandable thermos-setting product that, when exposed to heat, will expand between 1 000 to 3 000 times its original dimensions,” said Henkel South Africa head of sales IND solutions and durable goods Paul Bergset.

The material is put into vehicle components such as doors and pillar posts where it fills cavities to reduce noise within the vehicle, thereby improving the driving experience.

Ford Motor Company SA will be the first Henkel-Hudson partnership customer, with the product being used in the Ford P703 Ranger Model, which is manufactured in Silverton, Gauteng.

Bergset highlighted that there has been interest from several other local OEMs as the industry strives to deliver more local content to the models built in the country.

“This will be the first Hudson Rubber manufacturing and extrusion plant of its type in Africa and could, in the future, supply the electric vehicle (EV) market [owing] to the rubber-based products being able to deliver significant weight reduction opportunities to the manufacturing industry in South Africa.”

Bergset added that Hudson Rubber was selected following an extensive evaluation of suppliers.

“Hudson, with 64 years’ experience in the rubber industry, came out as the preferred supplier based on [its] track record, service, capabilities and ability to provide customised solutions,” he said.

The initial investment by the company will exceed R10-million and Hudson’s workforce at the Hammanskraal factory will be increased by about 10% to 12%, said Hudson Rubber MD Stoney Steenkamp.

“There will be a knowledge transfer between Henkel and Hudson as well as extensive staff training,” said Steenkamp.

He added that the integration of automotive light-weighting material, combined with the increased use of sensitive battery components, makes advanced automotive adhesive sealants and acoustics solutions more important than ever.

“The technology will also be suited to EVs because the panel reinforcement products support light-weighting through enabling sheet metal thickness to be reduced without compromising local panel stiffness, dent resistance and ultimately driver safety.”

Driven by the electrification of vehicles, Bergset noted that light-weighting has become a “megatrend” in the automotive industry which has resulted in the industry looking at structural solutions that focus on driver safety.

“Aside from offsetting the added weight of EV batteries, these light-weighting solutions from Henkel also contribute to fuel-savings, less energy expenditure for equivalent performance and enhanced break and suspension performance,” said Bergset.

He noted that the primary options with regard to structural solutions are structural reinforcement patches and structural reinforcement sprayable materials, with both options providing numerous sustainability benefits, helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Both companies formalised the partnership at the 2023 National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM) Show, held at the end of August, where both companies were participants.

NAACAM CEO Renai Moothilal congratulated Henkel and Hudson Rubber on solidifying the partnership.

“This kind of deep localisation happening is one of the key outcomes expected under the SA Automotive Masterplan 2035, and is an example of how the components base is readying itself across different tiers, for new OEM assembly technologies, including the potential of supplying EV platforms in future,” concluded Moothilal.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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