Çelikel, Turkey

Growing together

A special history connects Bühler with the Turkish car parts supplier Çelikel. Having grown together over a period of 20 years, a new era of cooperation has begun. The goal of this long-term partnership is securing a strong position for Çelikel in the European automotive supply sector. 

Approaching Çelikel, one is greeted by the sight of an orchard with over 60 fledgling olive trees stretching their branches skywards. They grow on the roof of the Çelikel die-casting building in the city of Sekerpınar about 50 kilometers outside Istanbul. The building is just two years old and encompasses the production halls, a floor for the back offices, meeting rooms, an inner courtyard with garden, and a cafeteria for around 500 employees. Everything is ultra-modern, wood and glass predominate.

With their young, smooth, greenish-grey branches and tender leaves the trees on the roof complement the prevailing urban style of the complex. The greenery is a welcome sight in this industrial area. It also serves another purpose. “In three to four years, we expect to harvest approximately 40 kilograms of olives per tree,” says Oguzhan Deniz, Commercial President at Çelikel. “This is approximately 300 liters of olive oil. We will use it as gifts for our customers.

Oguzhan Deniz shares management responsibility with his brother Okan, who is three years younger and has the last word in all technical matters. Çelikel is growing just like the olive trees. New orders from the automotive industry facilitated the construction of the new production site.

Find out more about the production at Celikel

The legacy continues

Çelikel has a 50-year history and the brothers have been part of it for over 20 years. “We are proud of what we’ve accomplished,” says Oguzhan. “Our late father Osman started the business with a warehouse measuring just 16 square meters. Back then, they still used sand casting. My brother and I joined in 1995.” The company produced mainly white goods back then, and parts for irons and washing machines. Competition was fierce, with similar white goods products coming in from Asia. “We decided to switch our production focus and manufacture more complex aluminum parts for the automotive industry. We wanted to stay in shape for the future,” says Oguzhan. His brother Okan adds: “To do this, we needed new, high-quality equipment.”

Çelikel has continuously restructured its business over the last few years, says Paolo Zanone. As a former salesman and Managing Director at Bühler Brescia, he cultivated this customer relationship, even after he switched to the Feed division at Bühler as Sales Manager at the start of 2018. “To my mind, their strategy of switching from white goods to the automotive supply industry was a wise one.”

Quality equals safety

The automotive industry enjoys the top spot in the die-casting sector. Aluminum components for cars account for 90 percent of worldwide production. Of this 90 percent, 40 to 50 percent is manufactured with Bühler die-casting machines. “Bühler sets high standards and it is a clear point of reference in the market when it comes to quality,” says Zanone. Quality, which equates to safety, is the essence of the car industry. It would be a disaster to have a shock absorber break on impact due to porosity. The same principle applies to an unstable front axle or material defects in another car component. “Our machines produce top quality items and also enable us to manufacture with less waste,” says Zanone. Okan confirms this.

We’ve tested it – one of our 10-year-old machines with the same stamping block had a reject rate of 3.5 percent, while Bühler’s new Evolution 66 was less than 1 percent.

Okan Deniz, Technical President of Çelikel

The reliability of Bühler’s die-casting machines persuaded the Deniz brothers to go for this model in the future. The actual injection unit ensures consistency in the die-casting cell, the heart of the die-casting machine. Peter Schneider, Sales Support Specialist at Bühler, explains: “Our machines use parameters for production which are repeated with every casting cycle once they have been defined and programmed in the control system. These parameters generate a reference curve which is reproduced cycle after cycle in the injection process for the liquid metal. Bühler machines are also able to react to influences such as temperature fluctuations and can regulate speed and pressure values automatically.”

Sharing the same values

The cooperation between the client and Bühler is not a matter of chance. The companies had already been in contact for decades. The former Managing Director of Bühler Istanbul, Detlef Tremer, regularly visited the company and developed a cordial relationship with the Deniz family. Moreover, the philosophies of Çelikel and Bühler were highly compatible, Zanone says.

Bühler is a family business. This is why many other family businesses feel an affinity with us. The owners of Çelikel see their values reflected in Bühler.

Paolo Zanone, Managing Director Bühler Brescia

As far as the Deniz brothers were concerned, it had long been clear that Bühler would be the best partner for them as soon as the time was right. “The change in strategy brought an upturn and we bought four new machines in two years,” says Okan, visibly proud of his new acquisitions.

The company’s actual move to the automotive industry started with the first Bühler Carat 105 over a year ago. From then on, the technical teams at Çelikel and Bühler worked hand in hand until the first serial production emerged from the production halls.

According to Peter Schneider, Bühler Sales Support Specialist, it was a textbook example of cooperation: “Everything worked smoothly from the start. We really got on well with the Çelikel engineers and project managers straight away. The relationship was open and respectful.”

Working at full steam

Now there are two Carat 105s in the production hall. They are working at full capacity. The air is heavy with the steam rising from the aluminum cooling process in the casting cell. Two rows further along is the Evolution 66, the latest acquisition in the machine park. Okan can hardly contain his joy: “The Bühler machines are extremely reliable,” he explains. “They run day after day, week after week, month after month. We are very pleased with the output.”

Last year Çelikel was able to increase this from 12,000 to 13,000 tons. The figure indicates how much aluminum was processed per year. “Our target is 20,000 metric tons per year – with the same production area and number of employees,” says Oguzhan, the strategist. “And something else is very important for us: When production runs as reliably as it does here, we are free to concentrate on other things.”

The Deniz brothers complement one other perfectly. Okan, who worked in production for 10 years at the behest of his father to acquire knowledge about all technical matters, now monitors quality and is driving forward development of new products. Oguzhan, who manages the sales side, knows about all the recent trends in the industry.

The latest technology for succes

The production hall is 24,000 square meters and resembles a small Legoland. Every minute, the fork-lift trucks place the manufactured aluminum parts into large wooden crates. The melting plant sounds a warning signal when the crane drives into the hall with one of the giant concrete pots. Inside is the glowing aluminum, 700°C hot. Flashing lights warn of the danger, one drop of the viscous liquid would go right through clothing in a fraction of a second and could cause serious burns. Which explains why such great attention is paid to safety in production. “Safety first” – this is the motto printed on the back of the shirts of every employee at Çelikel.

The fourth Bühler machine, another Evolution 66, is due to be installed this year. The Deniz brothers have already cleared a space for it. There is a prominent gap next to the existing Evolution where the new casting cell will be installed. The most important thing for Okan is that the co-operation with Bühler goes beyond merely installing new machines: “Bühler is a solution provider. In addition to the machines, we are acquiring technology and know-how.”

Okan and Oguzhan have plans. The first step was constructing the new site. Now they want to try to consolidate their position in the European market, even if Istanbul is not the ideal location for it owing to the relatively high transport costs incurred in delivering goods to car manufacturers. However, when choosing the new site, the tried-and-tested team was the key factor for the Deniz brothers: “Our employees are highly qualified in their respective fields. When we moved, it was important that we could take the entire workforce with us. So we chose a location close to the old one. This industrial zone in the east of Istanbul is also home to many other suppliers to the automotive industry. And this is an advantage,” says Oguzhan.

The Deniz brothers’ enthusiasm and long-term approach impressed Zanone: “Çelikel is a customer for whom I would drop everything. Like Bühler, working sustainably is important to them. They share the same long-term mindset.” The mutual hymns of praise ring true; here are two ideal partners who have found one other. “Çelikel will definitely be buying more Bühler machines,” says Okan Deniz. “Our plan is to increase our capacities and buy even bigger machines for the foundry.”

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