Husqvarna: Innovative solution for chain saws
Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik conducted a feasibility study on behalf of Swedish company Husqvarna AB showing that a new solution for the manufacture of saw chains is technically possible and can be implemented in practice. This forms the basis for the long-term collaboration between the two companies and is helping Husqvarna further enhance its leading global position.
Like very few other companies, Husqvarna in Sweden is able to look back on a history that spans the centuries. This tale started exactly 330 years ago, in the year 1689 in what is now known as Huskvarna, with the manufacture of pistols and rifles, whose iron sights can still be seen in the company’s logo today. Over the centuries, Husqvarna continuously extended its product portfolio and, for example, was already manufacturing motorcycles as early as 1905. During the last century, the company increasingly concentrated on garden and forestry tools. As a result of this approach, Husqvarna was able to launch the world’s first chainsaw on the market in 1959. Another important innovation took the form of the first robot lawn mower, which was launched in 1995. This was recently joined by another global first: the all-wheel variant. “Always responding to the needs of the market and seizing new opportunities for success is in our blood,” says Göran Rudén, Vice President Sourcing in the Husqvarna Division. “This approach is characterized by the stamina and perseverance with which we pursue our goals.”
Partnerships that bring market leadership
Nowadays, the Husqvarna Group, with its divisions Husqvarna, Gardena and Construction, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of work tools such as chainsaws, trimmers as well as ride-on and robot lawn mowers. At the same time, Husqvarna wants to continue to grow and become the unchallenged market leader for forestry and garden equipment in the coming years. The key components in this strategy are the forward-looking outlook on market developments, the patience and perseverance that characterize Husqvarna, and the consistent, focused development of new processes and technologies. “However, long-term strategic partnerships are also vital if we are to achieve the position of market leader,” explains Rudén. “When choosing a partner, it is vital to us that the partner company offers outstanding quality and delivery capabilities, ensures acceptable price levels, and excels not only in terms of sustainability but, above all, innovative force.”
The saw chain challenge
In Otto Bihler Maschinenfabrik, Husqvarna found exactly the partner it was looking for – in the task of completely rethinking the manufacture of the most recent generation of chains for its chainsaws. Rudén: “A saw chain is an extremely complex product to manufacture. The chain itself is comprised of many, tightly toleranced components and involves over a 15 step manufacturing process.” The goal of the company was to develop a new production process that would reliably produce high quality in tolerance product at very high rate of productivity. “To achieve our goal, we not only had to take into account the high volume of millions of parts per year but also the challenge of handling a large variety of chain sizes and their varying components,” explains Ruden. “That is why we turned to Bihler, who is a market leader in precision manufacturing technologies and innovative solutions.”
Convincing innovative performance
This was no easy task for Bihler because it was necessary to develop a totally new concept. That is why, in 2016 Bihler was initially commissioned to undertake a feasibility study. The result: The desired manufacturing solution for saw chain production is technically possible and can also be implemented in practice. “It is a world-class process for a world-class product,” says Rudén with no little pride. “The expertise of both companies has flowed into this solution and, for us, it represents the perfect balance between requirements and performance capabilities.” Crucial to the success of the project was the close, intensive cooperation between the two companies which permitted the step-by-step development of the solution. Ultimately, saw chain manufacture demands an enormous amount of specialist knowledge that goes far beyond normal production expertise and is consequently not available on the market. Instead, it was necessary to step back and completely rethink the approach. Rudén sums things up as follows: “With this study, Bihler showed that it was qualified to undertake the project and that it is the right partner for us. It has the innovative force that we need in order to achieve our goal of securing market leadership.”
Husqvarna AB, which was founded in 1689, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of tools and equipment for forestry as well as for garden and landscape conservation. Husqvarna AB, together with the Gardena and Construction divisions, is part of the Husqvarna Group which has approximately 13,000 employees in 40 countries and markets its products in more than 100 countries.