With more than 4000 employees in 10 countries, Bontaz-Centre has fully placed its trust in Tornos, accrediting much of its success to the machine-tool brand. In fact, the French firm has recently expanded its fleet of Tornos NC multi-spindle lathes and Swiss-type machines significantly.
Bontaz-Centre is a global success story on how to transform a bar-turning workshop into a worldwide automotive supplier. The history of the company is closely linked to that of its founder, Yves Bontaz, a man that formed the company with the aim of developing an innovative, dynamic and fully future-driven enterprise.
As a born entrepreneur from the Arve Valley, Yves Bontaz decided, together with his twin brother Florent, to join the National Clock-making School in Cluses. In 1958, the brothers were conscripted to maintain aircraft for the French army. After 30 months of military service, Yves realised that he wanted to go into business for himself. However, to purchase his first machine, his parents ended up selling their horse. He canvassed his first customers and soon began expanding his machine inventory, which rapidly increased from 5 to 30 machines.
For 10 years, the subcontractor manufactured for the big names of the Arve valley. However, this kind of bar turning was poorly paid, so productivity and quality became a keynote issue for Bontaz. Even today, these two aspects still form the basis of the company. After 10 years of contract manufacture, Bontaz bought his first three multi-spindle lathes and became a supplier to Peugeot and Renault. The margins were higher and the two customers ordered large volumes.
One day, the purchasing agent of a major car manufacturer gave him a part no other bar-turning company wanted to produce. The component was a cooling nozzle, entirely made of aluminum, and it was the main part of the engine cooling system. This contract marked the beginning of sustained growth for Bontaz.
Environmental protection became a central issue in the 1990s. The better the engine cooling system; the less polluting the engine. The result was a 20-fold increase in the demand for cooling nozzles, which was the start of globalisation for the Bontaz Group. In response to the constant pressure on pricing exerted by the purchasers, Bontaz established its first subsidiary in Eastern Europe, which was soon followed by a subsidiary in Shanghai. Today, over 400,000 new cars comprising a component manufactured by Bontaz will roll off a production line each month.
After China, Bontaz also gained foothold in the US, South America and then in North America. Today, the company has almost 4000 employees and branches in nine countries, with four sites in Tunisia and China respectively, plus manufacturing plants in Morocco, the Czech Republic, India, Brazil, the US, Japan and South Korea, and of course the company’s headquarters in Marnaz, France.
In short, Bontaz has become a major tier-one supplier to the automotive industry. Apart from the famous cooling nozzle, the company specialises in the assembly of various sub-assemblies, such as electro-magnetic handbrakes and all types of fluid control systems.
In Bontaz machine shops around the world, a large number of Tornos cam-type multi-spindle lathes can be seen. Just recently, various Tornos machines of different types have found their way into the workshops and this includes Tornos Swiss DT 13 machines.
“The Swiss DT 13 was chosen due to its competitive price, its productivity and its quality,” says Yannick Bontaz, nephew of Yves. Swiss DT 13 machines are a valuable alternative to cam-type lathes as they boast the flexibility of numerical control while being ultra-productive. Thanks to their L-type kinematic system, the machines can achieve highly competitive cycle times.
Additionally, the company has installed a series of Tornos Swiss GT 32 machines.
“With its B-axis facility, rigid structure, high performance and driven tools that can reach speeds of up to 9,000 rpm, the Swiss GT 32 machines are able to tackle machining tasks of high complexity,” says Yannick.
The company also reports that it now has four MultiSwiss 6×16 machines, although it was never a foregone conclusion that the machines would be Tornos models.
“Even if we trusted Tornos and their cam-type multi-spindle lathes for a great many years, we still decided to contact another manufacturer for NC multi-spindle machines,” Yannick reveals. “However, over time we realised that the MultiSwiss would offer a very high performance. We decided to take the plunge and purchase our first Tornos NC multi-spindle lathe.
“The machine is very easy to operate and set up,” he adds. “Set-up changes can be realised in no time and this is a major advantage. Furthermore, the MultiSwiss provides us with exceptional responsiveness. The quality of the parts and of the series produced is also excellent. That’s why we have already installed four machines and ordered a fifth.
“Given the success of the MultiSwiss 6×16, we did not hesitate when Tornos presented us with the MultiSwiss 8×26. And we have to admit that the machine has already fulfilled its promises in terms of dimensional accuracy, thermal stability and surface finish. We owe the success of our company to Tornos’ expertise and their sophisticated machines. So, we are looking forward to the two new machines that will complement our MultiSwiss 8×26 fleet.”
The entrepreneur from the Savoy region, a colorful personality, concludes: “Tornos displays the same conscientiousness in everyday work as I do.”
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