Making Alloy Frames Like Car Chassis
AGUEDA, Portugal – The supply chain of the bicycle industry is about to change drastically. An alloy frame production project in Portugal introducing German car chassis production technology in the bicycle industry could make European frame manufacturing incomparable to that in Asia and commercially viable.
The completion of a European based and fully robotized frame production came a big step closer with a € 14 million investment in Triangles, a company founded by Portuguese Rodi, Miranda and Ciclo-Fapril.
Construction of the factory started
“We are working closely with a leading expert in the automotive industry for robotized welding. It took us a long time to find this expert company for our frame project that started two years ago,” said Rodi and Triangles President Armando Levi Silva at Eurobike last August.
In fact the construction of the frame factory has started already in Agueda, Portugal, the same region where most of the country’s bike companies are located. The facility will have 2 production lines; each with 10 robots. Such a production line has also been set-up at Triangles’ technology partner in Germany. The first robot-produced alloy bike frames were made in Germany and sent to Portugal for testing. In December 2015 250 MTB and 250 e-bike frames are being produced in Germany.
Final testing this winter
“These will be tested by us again and also by our customers. When all is OK the production machinery will be moved from Germany to our new facility in Portugal while the other robots will also be coming in. That robotized production makes it possible to turn the frame-facility into a commercially viable project. And it makes our frames stand out from all those that are now being made in Asia,” explained Triangles president Armando Levi.
When all is going according to the plan and more importantly, when the 250 MTB and 250 e-bike frames are approved after testing by Triangles and its customers, then pre-series production is to start in Portugal. This is planned for May 2016.
Multi million euro investment
Rodi, Miranda, and Ciclo-Fapril are investing € 14 million in the frame facility, which will have an initial capacity of 450,000 aluminium frames. For phase 2 another investment of € 5 million is planned, to raise capacity further.
Investing and setting-up aluminium frame production in Portugal is a major move towards adding flexibility to the supply chain of the bike industry in Europe. Currently Triangles is also developing a project with one of the biggest producers of suspension forks. Production is to expected to start in the first quarter of 2017.