“Our product has often been overlooked in the area of weight,” CEO Douglas DelGrosso said. “People focus on typically metal and steel to get weight off and if you think about the amount of sealing that is in the typical C-Class sedan, it's a lot of product and rubber is heavy.”
In an environment fueled by meeting such standards as fuel efficiency and emissions reductions, being able to take weight off a vehicle wherever possible helps.
“If you find some creative ways to take off weight and take it to the customer in today's environment with all the pressure that's on them to meet, whether its CO2 standards or general emissions standards, we have tried to focus ourself there,” he said.
DelGrosso sees this as a big opportunity for his firm if it is able to show its customers the potential for such reductions.
“That's a pretty significant amount of savings (in weight),” he said. “That represents about a 20-percent reduction in the overall weight. ... Some of it can be done without any additional costs.”
If done on a large enough scale, he added, it might even amount to a cost savings.
Going with plastic over rubber has been the answer in the past on occasion, according to Steve Murree, Henniges director of advanced product and process development. To help reduce the mass of the products, eliminating materials like rubber and metal have helped.
While the push for this mainly is coming from Henniges, the executives said there have been a few customers coming to the auto supplier looking for a solution.
“Each customer has their traditional way of engineering sealing,” DelGrosso said. “This is where we can be that catalyst.”
Looking over what the best practices and procedures are, he said this was the firm's chance to approach its customers and say here is the best way to accomplish weight reduction.
“We can be in that eight- to maybe 11-pound range,” DelGrosso said.
“I think that requires a certain level of push from us. Not all (car makers) are out there doing those teardowns to get that type of data (on reducing weight in sealing).”
Getting the information to their customers isn't the hard part though.
“One of the struggles is that the working level, their objective is to launch vehicles without issues,” Murree said. While they like the push from the company, lessening the weight and coming up with alternatives for sealing are not among their main objectives.
“We have to start attacking higher up and having them push it down as an objective,” he said.
Issues like fuel efficiency are not expected to go away anytime soon.
“What we are trying to do is be ahead of that because we can, and be there as a good value supplier and say we have some ideas that you didn't traditionally look at for this product,” DelGrosso said.