KB Components – Moulded for Future Demand

KB Components is not a typical injection moulding specialist – capitalising on its complex part production capability and its global presence, the company is set to make the most of market developments.

Sweden-based KB Components is one of the leading suppliers of technically advanced plastic components in Scandinavia. The company differs from most of its competitors by having a focused approach to injection-moulding technologies, including material technology and design optimization of both the part and the process.

The company has a mastery of most techniques and materials within the polymer segment and also performs component assembly. KB Components’ state-of-the-art manufacturing and logistics systems are highly regarded by a wide client base primarily from the automotive industry but also from the medical and other sectors.

Headquartered in Örkelljunga in southern Sweden, KB Components operates two plants in its native country as well as production facilities in Lithuania, Mexico, China, Slovakia and, most recently, Canada.

Restructured to Grow

Established in 1947, the company this year celebrates its 75th anniversary and as such is one of the oldest businesses operating in this sector – a rather unusual achievement given that the plastics industry is relatively young, notes company CEO Stefan Andersson.

He explains that for the first five decades, the business grew organically in Sweden, and – following a process of profound restructuring – ventured onto a globalisation path 14 years ago, to support their customers, primarily from the automotive industry, in their new locations.

Mr Andersson himself has been with the company on this expansion journey from its very beginning. He came on board in 2009 when the company, via a rights issue, became part of the BrA Invest Group, a family business owned by Mr Andersson and his two brothers, and following the takeover, initiated the business turnaround.

“We started a process of profound restructuring, followed by a relocation of some of the production to low-cost Lithuania. Over the past decade, we have also invested heavily in automation. Today, our Swedish plants are probably some of the most automated sites in the industry.”

The company has been increasingly successful on a global level, but Mr Andersson points out that going from a local, family-owned Swedish company servicing mainly the local market to a global player with a global platform in just 10 years is the greatest achievement of all.

Unique Capability

He explains that while injection moulding is no longer a high-tech industry, KB Components enjoys two key advantages. The first is its global presence, enabling it to support leading customers directly, wherever its plants may be located.

The second aspect is the ability to produce complex components. “We pride ourselves on building difficult parts. And when I say difficult parts, I mean working in difficult materials, with difficult geometries. Those two combined really require special skills. So if a customer cannot find a technical solution with a competitor, they typically come to us and we fix their problem.”

The company also offers complete solutions for the production and assembly of products consisting of several parts. Most of the time, this is integrated with the injection moulding operation, using the most modern robotic technologies in order to create a cost-efficient production set-up.

Riding the Wave

KB Components is one of the companies that have not been severely affected by the global pandemic and the current market disruptions, thanks to their global operation and the fact that the company is a B2B supplier, so consumer confidence has (so far) only had a limited impact.

“Of course, the situation in Europe is a challenge, and we do need to reflect the increased energy price content of the product, particularly in eastern Europe. But our business remains stable and growing, partly because the uncertainties of the European market are offset by our operations elsewhere, but mostly because of the continuing trend in the automotive industry to replace metal with plastic.”

“Every generation of a new vehicle contains about 20% more plastics than the previous one, and we are well placed to utilise this trend: we are at the forefront, we have our laboratory, we have a vastly experienced team of engineering and production specialists that can lay the best possible foundation for finding smart solutions at competitive cost levels.’

Excellence is not achieved only in production. The company follows the most stringent regulations for environmental protection and work safety. Solar panels and energy-saving measures have been introduced, and in line with customers’ demands seeking circularity, KB’s teams are actively looking for new materials that will meet their sustainability requirements.

Clear Skies Ahead

Mr Andersson explains that in line with market trends, the company has defined an ambitious growth strategy. Last year KB Components acquired Lakeside Plastics in Canada which will add several customers within the electric vehicle segment and will strengthen the group’s position in North America, the company’s fastest-growing region.

“Our customer, a competitor to Tesla, is ramping up production in the United States, so we can be part of their growth journey, and continue our already strong momentum in North America for quite some years to come,” says Mr Andersson.

But opportunities exist elsewhere as well. “Generally speaking, there is a huge backlog with all automotive customers due to the Covid-19 downturn, so even if the market slows down as expected, there will still be a considerable demand for our products to address that backlog in all our markets.”

He acknowledges that the company is investing heavily in its growth, with an annual investment level of about €10 million, a sum which is going to be increased to support new contracts.

“We are set to grow both organically and by acquisition – the plan is to acquire one new company per year. We have achieved this over the past few years and plan to continue to do so. The most recent one added was Lakeside in 2021, so there are exciting developments ahead.”

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