Since Hyundai Motor decided to go from regular steel to SSAB’s Hardox steel when producing the concrete mixers for their special trucks, the demand has surged. For Hyundai’s customers the long-term costs are reduced as the concrete mixer’s service life is doubled – at least.
“Since we started to use drums made of Hardox, the sales have increased drastically,” said Byung-cheol Kang, Sales Manager at Hyundai Motor, South Korea.
Two years ago, Hyundai Motor in South Korea decided to go from regular steel to SSAB’s Hardox abrasion-resistant steel when producing the concrete mixers for their special commercial vehicles. The results include mixer drums, hoppers, and chutes that are much more resistant to abrasion and corrosion than the earlier versions.
“The reason for choosing Hardox is its durability. Compared to other mixer trucks, these last a great deal longer. They have a very long lifespan, so the customer demand is high for mixers made out of Hardox steel,” said Byung-cheol Kang.
Used mainly in the construction industry, the mixer trucks are running in harsh conditions where they constantly transport concrete from one place to another, mixing the concrete as they move along. With the continuous wear and tear the mixers made out of regular steel have to be replaced after a few years, which means a huge amount of extra costs for the customers. With Hardox steel the mixers at least double the service life.
For commercial vehicles it is crucial that they last as long as possible whilst also being efficient and productive. For Hyundai that means not only do they use the best quality material, but they of course also put a major effort into the design. Joo-suk Shim is an engineer designer at the special designs team for commercial vehicles at Hyundai Motor. He is grateful for the collaboration with SSAB when using Hardox steel for the mixers. He met some challenges when Hyundai started to use Hardox steel.
“Hardox steel was harder to work with, because it is so strong and there is less deformation than in conventional steel. SSAB was extremely helpful to us. Firstly, when reviewing the blade design on the drum made of Hardox. Then, when analyzing the discharge rate and mixing effect of the concrete. We received valuable data which we have been able to include in the design,” he said.
The hardest thing was shaping Hardox steel to fit the blade molds. SSAB was operational in getting this to work. Also, welding steel plates in straight lines did not work, so Hyundai made the drum in a slightly different way, using a spiral design. The switch to Hardox steel came mainly from customer demand. The market knew what it wanted and asked for it.
“What differentiate us is that we always pay attention to our customers' opinions and focus on meeting their needs. We include their demands in our design,” said Joo-suk Shim.
Hyundai was determined to listen to the customers and introduced Hardox steel as a competitive feature. Even though there was a cost increase for the high-quality steel from SSAB, the demand went up right away.
“The service life is more than doubled from the earlier design. We offer a lot better quality than our competitors, and we now have a market share of 80 percent compared to previously 50 percent,” said Byung-cheol Kang.
The Hardox In My Body sign on the mixers is something that makes them even more sought after. The traceability of the signs with unique ID number is also a guarantee that a product is made out of genuine Hardox steel.
“You can't tell from simply looking if a mixer is made out of a regular steel plate or if it is actually Hardox. However, when customers see the Hardox In My Body sign they trust that they get quality design because they know the brand,” he said.