The IAC Group is one of the global leading suppliers of automotive interiors. The group pursues a clear strategy: facts are relevant, as in the case with the Jupiter plus machines for its latest plant in the Czech Republic.

Worldwide the company employs around 32,000 workers at more than 100 locations in 22 countries, with 83 manufacturing plants currently spread among 20 countries. We spoke with Plant Manager Jan Vondracek and with Ladislav Vitu, Head of Injection Molding at the new location, Preštice 2.

The new plant manufactures among others inner dash insulation by injection molding. This is an industry first technology to produce components that characteristically weigh 40% less compared with products made by conventional vacuum forming. The IAC injection molding method allows precise and reliable shaping of the lightweight-design dash insulation while giving consistent acoustical performance. In addition, the procedure enables a needs-based mass distribution adjusted to the acoustically very important areas in the component.

Mr. Vondracek, Mr. Vitu, Preštice 2 is IAC’s newest plant and has only just been opened. What makes this loca- tion so important in comparison to other IAC sites?

Ladislav Vitu: “Our people know-how and production skills are very good. That is why the Czech republic has become IAC’s center of excellence for overhead products.”

Jan Vondracek: “It’s true that currently IAC Preštice 2 has only 90 employees, but its  clear goal is to grow and to employ as many as 700 by 2019/2020. The second phase of construction in manufacturing is already being planned so as to cater to new projects that are already in the pipeline.”

Production line for the inner dash insulation. On the right back the Haitian Jupiter plus 28000 II produces the injection molding parts.
From left: Radek Smid (Sales engineer at Mapro), Ladislav Vitu, Jan Vondracek from IAC Group
As a T1 supplier you have to deal with particularly high demands, and not just in terms of quality. Do you focus more on flexibility or on productivity?

Ladislav Vitu: “Certainly these are very big challenges for us too. We respond to them with systems that are designed very specifically for the applications. Take for example just the dash insulation, where the individual process steps are coordinated in detail with each other and even the equipment is designed very specially.”

Jan Vondracek: “However, we try to stay flexible. Our approach is whenever possible to have the same suppliers in the individual process stages. This means machines of the same standard, uniform technologies, uniform processes and greater efficiency of operation for our people. This makes it somewhat easier.”

That’s where the Jupiter Plus Series certainly fit into the picture. How was the decision in favor of Haitian International actually made?

Ladislav Vitu: “That happened purely for rational and logical reasons. We created the particular specifications that we needed for our door panels and asked for several quotes.”

Jan Vondracek: “If, you are talking about prejudices against Chinese machine  manufacturers – for us they just don’t exist. As a matter of principle, we decide on the basis of facts; in this we are professional and clearly focused.”

Ladislav Vitu: “Of course, we have made sure that the machines work for any kind of door panels or for other, similar applications such as trunk trim.”

IAC Group, Plant II in Preštice
One of two Jupiter Plus machines with 1600 kN
How important to you were technical options?

Ladislav Vitu: “Our options list was as short as possible. It really was limited to the essentials, such as having enough heating channels or, say, a hydraulic needle valve nozzle.”

Jan Vondracek: “An advisory committee then made a clear decision in favor of the Jupiter Series, with the best ratings in terms of technology, service, and price. The proximity to Haitian International Germany and their big replacement parts warehouse was also an important factor, of course, as was also the extensive experience of the Mapro team.“

Currently you have integrated one 2,800 tons clamping force Jupiter II Plus and two of 1,600 tons each. Have you been satisfied with their performance so far?

Ladislav Vitu: “We are very satisfied. The bigger one produces the inner dash insulation for premium vehicles. On the smaller Jupiters, we run a trunk panel for the mid-range.”

Jan Vondracek: “At the same time, all machines are equipped with extraction robots, 6-axis robots for the big ones and linear robots for the smaller applications.”

Speaking of robots, what do you at IAC think about the topic of Industry 4.0?

Jan Vondracek: “I think that generally speaking the basic idea behind it is very good. On the other hand, I also see that a lot of people talk about it without exactly knowing what it actually means. They use the terminology just because it’s “in”.”

Ladislav Vitu: “At IAC we simply try to integrate individual elements into our processes in a sensible manner, without making a big deal out of it!”

We thank you for speaking to us.

Thank you!

In the meantime, IAC Prestice 2 has ordered three more Jupiter II Plus machines (21000, 13000 and 10800 kN) in order to fulfill a project that jad been won for door panels for the premium sector. And since Mr. Vondracek is known to favor uniform standarts, the Jupiter family should at least have a strong hand to play when future projects are awarded.