Sandvik Coromant Company's tools are run of the mill -- that is, they help the mill run. One of three core businesses of Sweden-based engineering group Sandvik, Sandvik Coromant is part of its parent's Tooling division. It manufactures metal cutting and machine tools used in milling, turning, boring, and drilling. The tools are made from cemented carbide and other extremely hard materials like synthetic, diamond and cubic boron nitride, ceramics, and high speed steel. Sandvik Coromant offers more than 25,000 products to customers in the aerospace, automotive, general engineering, medical, and die and mold industries. It has operations in some 60 countries worldwide.
More and more, companies -- especially the aerospace industry -- are clamoring for composite materials, which are lighter and stronger, possess insulating properties, and are more corrosion-resistant than steel, aluminum, and even titanium. Boeing's new Dreamliner is made almost entirely from carbon fiber composite materials. These composites need less maintenance and offer better fuel economy. Even if Sandvik Coromant's more traditional competitors decide that composites are the way of the future, to enter the race means a lot of capital expenditures. Because machining composites is a completely different skill process from more traditional methods, existing staff need to be trained for appropriate skill sets, capital equipment must be changed, and the need to build a facility specializing in composite manufacture is a real probability.
Sandvik Coromant has already implemented a number of measures to keep its competitive edge in the market place. Focusing on the development of new materials and products, and production method improvement, it invests at least twice as much annually in R&D than the average company in its business. It was the first to introduce brazed cemented carbide cutting tools, which offered the industry a new cutting tool material, much more effective than high-speed steel. Cemented carbide, a powder-metallurgical product consisting of hard, wear-resistant particles or carbides, is the most important material for cutting tools today. In order to serve customers better, Sandvik Coromant has central stocking points in Europe, the US, and the Far East.
The onslaught of the Great Recession -- which impacted the global market, with the exception of China and India -- hit the automotive and general industry sectors in particular, spurring the company to adopt a number of cost savings initiatives, primarily the consolidation of companies, as well as a reduction in workforce. Even with sales plummeting 36% in 2009 over 2008, Sandvik Coromont grasped the opportunity to acquire Wolfram Bergbau and Hütten (WBH) to build on its supply of raw materials, giving it an entire production chain, from ore to finished cemented-carbide powder.
In 2008 Sandvik Coromant launched new technologies in milling (CoroMill for titanium milling), turning (sharp edge grades), and aerospace (engine solutions package). Additionally, Sandvik Coromant is working together with Sandvik Bioline to strengthen its expertise in machining and production of medical instruments.
Through its Productivity Improvement Program, the company combines hardware and software so that its customers can create, improve, and discover new ways to do things. While Sandvik Coromant may train on site, it also runs 20 productivity centers worldwide to teach customers about tooling solutions for increased productivity and profitability and to improve personal skills. The company has opened an NAIT (institute of technology) Centre for Machinist Technology in Canada.
In the light of increasing consumption of non-renewable raw materials, the company offers the Coromant Recycling Concept, a collection service for used carbide tools, to all its customers. All used hard-metal items are collected in receptacles at the workplace, and the contents are transferred to the nearest Sandvik Coromant office for recycling. The program, which yielded 60% of its materials used in 2009, offers savings incentives to all involved. – less