Kostal North America is the go-to manufacturer of a range of electronic and electrical systems for car-making giants that include Ford, Daimler, GM, VW and Audi. Lorie Greenspan finds out what has propelled the company’s growth in the competitive North American automotive market.
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As it is with many companies on the planet, KOSTAL Group strives to maintain relationships with customers in a continually changing world in which today’s technology can be vastly different from tomorrow’s.
While the group has been successful in capturing market share and remaining competitive, it has also recognized that there is one thing about today’s business environment that must remain the same in tomorrow’s world – and that is, giving the customer what they want.
And that has been at the fore of its business practice since KOSTAL Group arrived on American shores in 1981, founding KOSTAL North America in Schaumburg, Ill., as one of the first KOSTAL subsidiaries overseas. The company operates four business units globally, including Automotive Electrical Systems, Connectors, Industrial Electronics, and SOMA Test Systems through a specific set of guiding principles: It is independent, family run, shows long-term profitability, and is globally integrated.
The move to North America was made because of what the company claimed to be “the enormous market potential of the North American automobile market.”
Overall, KOSTAL Group, with headquarters in Germany, develops and manufactures technologically demanding electronic and electro-mechanical products. The customer base is comprised of world class industrial companies, including all of the leading global automobile manufacturers and their sub-suppliers.
KOSTAL North America, as the business center for North America, has the sales, engineering & design and quality responsibility for the North American market, and cooperates closely with sister company, KOSTAL Mexicana.
The company’s main products are mechatronic modules, switch panels/switches, and electronic control units for customers that include Daimler, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, GM, VW Group and AUDI (SOP 2016). Its complete roster of products includes steering columns, door and roof modules; in the electronic area, seat heat, seat memory, rain sensor and power window/pinch protection systems, and in electromechanical, rocker and push switches, rotary, power seat and power window switches and turn signal/wash & wipe, power mirror switch, message center and ignition switch systems. Its automotive electrical systems account for more than 80 percent of the company’s revenues.
KOSTAL is also a Tier 1 engineering supplier for electric/electronic body network system analysis and engineering services.
KOSTAL maintains plants in the United States and Mexico that offer a range of services and support for customers.
For Daimler and VW, a customer care center in Vance, Ala., offers the skill of a local labor force, as well as a local logistics and sales force, top level technical analysis, and samples and prototypes production.
Its Queretaro, KOMEX 1, plant in Mexico offers a variety of capabilities that include thermoplastic molding, electronic production, mechanical assembly, tool room, and quality control for products that include mechatronic modules, switch panels/switches and electronic control units. KOMEX 1’s main customers are Fiat Chrysler, BMW, VW Group, Ford, Daimler, GM, and Audi (SOP 2016).
The company’s KOMEX II also offers thermoplastic molding, mechanical and automatic assembly and quality control programs for products that include mechatronic modules, switch panels/switches and electronic control units for a roster of customers that includes Fiat Chrysler, VW Group, Ford, Daimler, GM and Audi (SOP 2016).
KOMEX III’s scope of activities features painting and injection, laser etching and quality control for a product line that includes molded parts, painted parts, and laser etched parts. It provides these services and products for customers such as Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Audi and VW.
The company’s innovational strength is led by focusing on eight fields of innovation, into which KOSTAL consequently and sustainably invests:
- Human-Machine-Interfaces (primary, secondary, tertiary);
- Driver Assistance (camera + X);
- Electrified Driving (battery charger + X);
- New Functions (well-being, health);
- Shrinked Electronics/Power Electronics;
- Advanced Surfaces (integrated functionality design/robustness);
- Systems Integration (mechatronics/s).
Meeting Customer Demands
Meeting the challenge of customer demands and requirements, combined with innovation and a motivated and ambitious staff, enable KOSTAL North America to provide customers with products characterized by high quality, high functionality and state-of-the-art technology.
Through a philosophy that balances superior customer service with technological aptitude KOSTAL has become a well-accepted partner for mechatronic modules, electronic control units and switches, successfully covering the entire value chain – from research & development via production to just-in-sequence logistics. The company prides itself at being able to optimize highly integrated mechatronic modules by applying innovative electric/electronic body network concepts at an holistic systems approach.
For KOSTAL, the integration of many areas of expertise “is a crucial factor for success in resolving complex customer requirements and integration challenges,” the company’s website states.
Mechatronic modules, reliable electronic control units and intuitive operator interfaces are part of KOSTAL’s core areas of expertise, enabling it to cover “the entire value-added spectrum of global production.”
“The experience we have gained over decades in functions in the automobile, with our drive for innovation and expertise in development, come together at KOSTAL to create outstanding capability in system integration.”