HENKEL South Africa is partnering with Hammanskraal-based Hudson Rubber to locally fabricate Henkel’s vehicle rubber sealing and acoustic solutions for OEM vehicle panel reinforcing, noise reduction and vibration protection.
Henkel’s patented technology of 2D and 3D sealing and acoustic solutions along with damping materials for the body shop provides robust noise, vibration, and harshness protection – while ensuring protection against water and other environmental elements that can disrupt passenger comfort and reduce vehicle performance.
Head of sales IND solutions and durable goods at Henkel South Africa, Paul Bergset, commented on the partnership: “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 1000 to 3000 times its original dimensions.”
The material is put into vehicle components such as doors and pillar posts where it fills cavities to reduce noise within the vehicle which improves the driving experience.
Ford Motor Company SA will be the first Henkel-Hudson partnership customer. The solution will be used in the Ford P703 Ranger manufactured in Silverton, Gauteng. Bergset said there has been interest from a number of 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 market due to the rubber-based products being able to deliver significant weight reduction opportunities to the manufacturing industry in South Africa.”
Bergset said Hudson Rubber was selected following an extensive evaluation of suppliers and three short-listed companies. “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.
Managing director of Hudson Rubber, Stoney Steenkamp, said the initial investment by the company will exceed R10 million and that Hudson’s workforce at the Hammanskraal factory will be increased by about 10-12%.
“There will be a knowledge transfer between Henkel and Hudson as well as extensive staff training.”
He said 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 electric vehicles 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,” he said.
Bergset added, “Driven by the electrification of vehicles, light-weighting has become a megatrend in the automotive industry, and this has resulted in the industry looking at structural solutions that focus on driver safety. Aside from offsetting the added weight of EV batteries, these lightweighting solutions from Henkel also contribute to fuel-savings, less energy expenditure for equivalent performance and enhanced brake and suspension performance.”
“The primary options with regards to structural solutions are structural reinforcement patches and structural reinforcement sprayable materials. Both options provide several sustainability benefits helping to reduce CO2 emissions.”
Both companies concluded the partnership at the Naacam Show 2023, hosted by the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM) at the end of August, where both companies were participants.
Naacam CEO Renai Moothilal congratulated Henkel and Hudson Rubber on solidifying the partnership and advised: “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.”