Kiekert announces $1 million expansion at its Wixom facilities
06/14/2016 Kiekert AG, Wixom
Kiekert, the technology leader in automotive locking systems, has started to invest $1 million to expand its U.S. development and manufacturing center in Wixom this year. In total, Kiekert will have invested more than $2.2 million to expand its local test and prototype-development facilities and its production capacity since 2013. The improvements will nearly triple production at the Wixom plant from 350,000 door-latch modules in 2013 to more than 1 million units this year. New construction will have added 15,000 square feet to the now 50,000-square-foot Wixom facility. Production at Wixom is expected to grow by steadily over the next several years.
“Kiekert Wixom is a major driver of innovation. Its dedicated sales team operates as the first point of contact for the automakers in North and Central America,“ said Mike Hietbrink, General Manager Kiekert USA and Global Sales Director. He noted that Kiekert’s 120 Wixom employees focus on the development of products to address market trends including digitization, mobility, convenience and urbanization. As the company’s lead engineering and program management center for the NAFTA region, Kiekert’s Wixom location is responsible for nearly $ 200 million in annual revenue together with its sister plant Kiekert Mexico. Today Kiekert has a market share of 25 percent in the NAFTA region, selling to customers that include the U.S. Big Three, as well as other North American automakers. Hietbrink added, “Starting in 1994, Kiekert Wixom became a sought-after partner for R&D in North America. We will continue our path of innovation and exploring global mega trends such as autonomous driving, interconnectivity and digital solutions to serve the rising needs of our customers.”
Kiekert has more than 20 development projects underway with carmakers that could lead to series production in the coming years. Recent technology developments at Kiekert include the E-Latch, the LED-Latch and the Kiekert i-protect. With the Kiekert E-Latch, contact with an electronic touch sensor on the door’s “outer skin” opens a vehicle door automatically. Lower operating forces and an improved door handle look-and-feel offer both an added styling element along with a new level of comfort. E-Latches are more compact, has fewer components and weighs less than today’s locking systems. For safety’s sake, the modular Kiekert E-Latch also offers full mechanical redundancy to guarantee operation in the event of a power failure. The system also could play a significant role in future autonomous vehicles as well.
“Our E-Latch opens up a new world of forward-looking locking-system solutions for vehicle makers,” noted Hector Verde, Director of Product Development of the Americas at Kiekert, adding that the E-Latch will go into production in 2017. E-Latches offer vehicle designers and vehicle manufacturers wide-ranging styling and design options, including integration of the handle within the door to dispensing with it altogether. Offers additional cabin space, virtually adding an additional vehicle segment in terms of cabin space. The Kiekert E-Latch also incorporates several comfort and convenience functions. An actuator from the modular Kiekert actuator platform automatically opens the door on request from up to two feet away. Opening and closing the door also can be accompanied by distinct acoustics, adapted to meet specific customer requirements.
LED lights are playing an increasingly important role for automakers. As a leader in technology, Kiekert is adding those new features into automotive locking systems to increase safety. Kiekert’s LED-Latch provides safety features as well as various design options. The integrated LED in the latch improves road safety by being clearly visible in the dark throughout the entire door opening, in contrast to more narrowly focused door-warning lights. The choice of color and brightness can be adapted to individual customer preferences. The LED-Latch can be used in any vehicle and provides added weight savings compared to existing door-warning light systems. The LED concept also can be used on rear compartment latches adding additional comfort in the form of a trunklight. The LED-Latch system can be used in conjunction with Kiekert’s new E-Latch system that will be in production soon.
Kiekert i-protect prevents car doors from unintentionally striking nearby vehicles or obstacles and contributes to even greater safety and convenience in traffic situations. The i-protect system features a sensor system to detect nearby vehicles or obstacles and an innovative door-brake system, which work together to prevent door dents caused by striking nearby objects. On-board vehicle electronics evaluate the signal and send a “stop” command directly to a brake on the door hinge when a nearby obstacle is detected. The Kiekert i-protect stopping mechanism activates the door brake, which electromagnetically stops the door from opening further, just inches away from the obstacle. The system was developed from concept to prototype in just six months and originally was suggested by a group of high school students in Cologne, Germany. The concept earned the students an award in a national contest “business@school” in Germany. The i-protect system will be available for series production by 2020.