DETROIT – Henkel KGaA bows to wishes of employees and customers, consolidating its three industrial businesses – Henkel Surface Technologies, Henkel Loctite Corp. and Henkel Adhesives – into a single business unit called Henkel Technologies.
Ford F-150.

The move, announced at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, is an attempt to better serve the Düsseldorf, Germany, company’s worldwide industrial customer base, which includes the U.S. Big Three.

Henkel generates automotive revenues of €850 million ($1.05 billion) worldwide, according to Mike Olosky, Loctite business director-Henkel Technologies.

The three units have operated separately since the Loctite brand of adhesives was purchased in 1997, and customers weren’t given “seamless” access to the company’s competencies across its three business units, Olosky says. OEMs buy a wide range of components from the supplier, but were often in the dark as to how large Henkel really was, he says.

Olosky says Henkel Technologies, with U.S. headquarters in Madison Heights, MI, will now be able to better offer U.S. auto makers advanced technologies found in premium segments, such as a bonding process used on high-end Mercedes-Benz vehicles, at better cost

The company is using SAE to tout its ability to drive cost out of vehicle manufacturing in many cases.

For example, Henkel currently supplies Ford Motor Co. with structural adhesives used in the construction of the ’04 F-150. Olosky says the adhesives replace spot welding, make complex designs more feasible on a mass-production scale and could save Ford as much as $80 per vehicle over conventional methods.

Henkel also is working with General Motors Corp. to remove chrome from aluminum wheels in anticipation of the European Union’s “End of Life Vehicle Directive.” Henkel says its chrome-free wheel-treatment process cuts GM’s cost by about 10% compared with previous methods.

jstoll@primediabusiness.com