KICO is a world-famous system supplier for first-class automotive technology. Over many decades, the company has designed and manufactured market-oriented components for passenger cars. Its current products meet the high quality requirements of global automotive industries and the list of business partners includes such companies like Audi, Bosch or Volkswagen.
Eighty years of market activity
The company started its adventure with manufacturing in 1939. At the time August Kirchhoff founded his company in Halver-Oeckinghausen, Germany. At the beginning, the production activity of the enterprise focused on household goods and metal parts for toy industry. The number of employees reached 15 people. In 1953 the company experienced some ownership changes and turned its production focus to a more promising market. A German businessman Carl Mesenhöller joined the Kirchhoff & Co. KG as a limited partner. With about 30 employees the enterprise started consequent orientation towards the flourishing automotive industry. Seven years later, in 1960, the business relocated to the industrial park Halver-Langenscheid. At the time KICO employed nearly 50 persons and achieved an excellent reputation as a direct supplier to the automotive industry, household goods and machine building industries. The specialties of the company have become precision parts, punching and drawing parts as well as locking systems ready to install. In the subsequent years, a number of investment and expansion projects was implemented. In 1971 the company built a second manufacturing hall in Halver-Langenscheid and twelve years later the third manufacturing plant was commissioned. It was to accommodate the expansion of the tool and die shop and the production of hinge systems, couplings for exhaust systems and mounting elements for tank systems. Simultaneously to dynamic growth, the company increased its personnel figures. At the time the enterprise decided to establish its third manufacturing works, it had been employing more than 120 persons. Expansion activities were continued until the beginning of 1990ies when further extension for assemblies and warehouse took place. The beginning of the new millennium was in turn marked by product range expansion. The new offer of KICO included mechatronic systems like electrical trunk lid closing aids and convertible top locking systems. Last but not least, the company established its Polish division. In 2005 KICO Polska Sp. z o. o. in Świebodzin, in the western part Poland, was founded. The Polish plant of the company specializes in the production of labour intensive parts on special machines. Next to that, distribution and direct shipments of finished products are also managed from there. Geographical expansion, new customers and business contracts resulted in a significant increase in the number of employees. Nowadays, around 350 employees of KICO design and build high quality products for the automotive industry and its component suppliers.
Unique know-how and production
An essential advantage of KICO in the globally competitive marketplace is that the company develops tools and special machines for precise and efficient production. It is the more so that current products of KICO require precise punching and molding and are manufactured on modern automatic punch presses, hydraulic- and excenter presses. Due to that – as well as owing to the use of high quality materials, refining methods and surface coatings, the enterprise guarantees long life usability of its products. At KICO assembly takes place on semi automatic assembly lines or automatic assembly machines. The most important operations are joining, riveting, screwing and inspection at the end-of-line test stations. Experienced specialists with an efficient ERP system ensure just-in-time production and delivery according to the customers’ demands. KICO’s strive for perfection can be proven by its extensive and state-of-the-art production facilities. In the area of development they include among others: Catia V4.2., Catia V5, Pro Engineer, ANSYS, Partec H - design, endurance test rigs as well as test temperature for pipe connectors. Technologies used in the stamping process are for example: stamping machines 650 - 4000 CN, mechanical and hydraulic presses 80 - 200 KN as well as yield - bending facilities. Joining is brought to perfection thanks to robotic welding center, resistance welding on welding presses and computerized screwing, whereas surface treatment is conducted in line with surface specification of certified suppliers. Assembly takes place on transfer lines with automatic part feeders and integrated riveting. Last but not least, quality management is controlled based on such facilities as: CAQ - System, 3D - Coordinate, physical examinations as well mechanical tests, end-of-line tests, acoustics laboratory, salt spray chamber and advanced product quality planning.
The product offer of KICO includes a wide scope of manufactures which can be categorized into the following groups:
- fastening systems for tanks – weight optimized mounting brackets for tank systems, delivered with corrosion- resistant coatings,
- couplings – weight-optimized and easy to handle exhaust systems meeting the highest demands for air tightness, torsion resistance, life, heat and corrosion resistance,
- heat shields – shielding with high precision and maximum effectiveness, available in one or multi-layer designs,
- precision stamping and forming parts – produced for even the most difficult mold configurations, can be supplied as individual components, assembled, or welded,
- hinge systems – optimally balancing the kinetic-, assembly-, weight-, and cost factors,
- locking systems – meeting all safety and quality requirements,
- mechatronic systems.
KICO’s product offer is adjusted to the requirements of the customers. Due to that all products inquires are taken into consideration and influence the manufacturing ventures of the enterprise.
What helped KICO to achieve the position of nowadays has been its commitment to deliver the customers reliable products of best quality. The company has also managed to adapt to the rules on which current business relations are built – incessantly rising requirements, reduced development times, increased quality demand and high economic pressure. Major market players of the automotive industry can only cope with partners who know those rules. KICO is one of them. KICO’s technical development and project management teams are target-oriented and closely linked with its material and production experts. In this way, the company eliminates problems from the very beginning. Modern computer technology and communication systems (e.g. CAE, CAD, CAM, CAQ as well as any others) combined with experience in a large number of products, constitute the basis for short development cycles and economic solutions that meet customers’ needs. What is more, a certified, efficient quality management system according to DIN EN ISO/TS 16949:2002 assures the continual improvement of all processes. Thanks to that, the company addresses and resolves all problematic issues and manages to achieve its goal of “zero defects”. The best proof of the value of KICO’s products are references that it received from a number of automotive giants. The list of companies that KICO has cooperated with includes: Audi, Skoda, BMW, Mercedes, Saab, Seat, Bentley, Volkswagen. The system suppliers that placed their orders at KICO are among others: Bosch, Magna, Faurecia, Tenneco, Karmann and many others.
Goals for now, priorities for the future
The plans of KICO for the nearest future are many. First and foremost, the company looks forward to the future challenges of the global competition and the development of new products as well as associated production processes. Undoubtedly, what will help the enterprise to achieve its goals are its two most important virtues – high flexibility and well-founded know-how. The characteristics enable KICO to deliver customized, innovative and effective solutions, developed and produced with state-of-the-art tools and manufacturing equipment. What is more, highly trained and qualified employees ensure the delivery of top, world-standard quality. The personnel of KICO is supported from the very concept to the very last production step. Effective project- and quality management systems ensure that all the teams work for KICO’s success . Next to that, sophisticated information technology accelerates the communication process, both internally as well as externally. However, what KICO has always strived for and what simultaneously is the top priority for the future, is customer satisfaction. This specific goal is to be achieved in close cooperation and fair partnership with business partners, suppliers and employees.
Written by Aleksandra Strojek