TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- To satisfy its customers' demands for cost reductions, metal-body and structural-systems supplier Cosma International is starting to use advanced high-strength steel instead of conventional high-strength steel.
"Customers are pushing for 3 to 5 percent cost reductions," said Frank Horton, executive vice president of engineering for Cosma, a wholly owned subsidiary of Magna International Inc. and supplier of chassis stampings, body panels and other structural parts.
"If you take it out of your overhead, you're jeopardizing your future."
Instead, it's important to keep the money to invest in your business, Horton said last week at the Management Briefing Seminars.
He said advanced high-strength steels can cut costs by 15 percent, reduce product weight by about 20 percent and improve crash performance by 20 percent compared with high-strength steel.
Advanced high-strength steels initially are softer than high-strength steels, but they become stronger after they're hardened.
Cosma already is using advanced high-strength steel to manufacture parts for vehicles sold in Europe, including a 2003 Volkswagen, Horton said.
The supplier is buying the material from a European steel supplier, Horton said, but is working with five North American steelmakers so it can purchase the material domestically.
Horton said Cosma expects to increase its hold on the frame market by almost 50 percent in the next five years, in part because of the use of advanced high-strength steel.