Daniel Kuchenbecker
Global Market Manager Industry
Pfeiffer Vacuum
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Pfeiffer Vacuum: Addressing Battery Manufacturing Needs

By Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 11/17/2020 - 06:00

Q: What role does the automotive industry play in Pfeiffer Vacuum’s operations?

A: In Mexico, both the automotive and HVAC sectors are important for our leak detection solutions. We offer leak testing solutions for compressors, air conditioning, fuel supply lines, tanks, pumps, pipes, and other applications. We have processes related to machining and auto parts manufacturing. Thus, we are familiar with many processes, including electric beam welding and foam manufacturing for vehicles. Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers represent a relevant market for us.

Q: How do you add value to OEMs and Tier 1s with your products?

A: We have focused our new developments on vacuum pumps to ensure that leak tests have a very short cycle. Highly efficient technologies reduce the cost of ownership. We focus on energy consumption while eliminating wear in our products to reduce maintenance costs.

Q: How has Pfeiffer Vacuum contributed to the development of electric powertrains?

A: Lithium-ion battery manufacturing is a big market in the vacuum segment. We have many specific solutions in this regard, particularly for testing leaks because we need to prevent any humidity from entering battery cells as this would reduce their lifetime. Certain processes in battery and hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing must be performed in a vacuum. The integrity of the fuel cells is important not only for their performance but to prevent any hydrogen leaks for safety reasons.

Q: How is Pfeiffer Vacuum taking advantage of the EV startup ecosystem both in the US and Europe?

A: With EV markets developing in North America and Europe, our biggest involvement has been in R&D projects. We have also provided European OEMs with battery manufacturing systems with our vacuum and leak test solutions.

Q: What role will Mexico play in EV manufacturing?

A: Battery manufacturing is a priority for leak testing solutions. With that in mind, we know that battery manufacturing is done mostly in Asia. We need to see how this develops but I think that through USMCA there might be more opportunities for Mexico, the US, and Canada to become more integrated and increase the amount of battery technology that is manufactured locally. This is one of the cornerstones for EVs because the battery is a really big share of the final value of the vehicle. There are opportunities to establish some of these business lines in Mexico.

Q: How did the pandemic influence Pfeiffer Vacuum’s plans for the Mexican market? What were your strategies to cope with it?

A: Our customers in the automotive sector have provided feedback on the industry’s recovery, which could take years. Nevertheless, 2020 has been a good year for us in Mexico, with improved performance compared to 2019. We focused on upgrading existing installations for our customers to reduce the cost of ownership. We are aware that there are no completely new manufacturing lines being built. Whenever the existing systems need replacements, we offer new solutions that can reduce costs. That has been our strategy in Mexico.

We have a broad portfolio of leak testing solutions. We offer components for leak testing systems, usually helium, and have products that can detect very fine leaks. In Mexico, we have a broad pool of end-users and potential end-users for our products and systems. Despite the COVID-19 situation, the automotive and HVAC markets remain our main target in the country.

Q: What will be Pfeiffer Vacuum’s priorities for both the Mexican and global markets?

A: We will continue our current strategy as we introduce new products. At our Indianapolis facility, we manufacture products related to our leak testing solutions that can expand the range of leak requirements they can be used for. We are planning to introduce more of these solutions to the Mexican market through our partner Intercovamex. This company has been our representative and distributor for a long time and has multiple offices throughout the country. It has a strong on-site service strategy to help customers optimize their processes, particularly in leak testing inputs and outputs.

 

Pfeiffer Vacuum is a global supplier of vacuum pumps, leak detectors, and measurement and analysis equipment for various applications in the automotive, pharmaceutical, electronics, and metallurgy industries

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst