This company group specialising in thermal and surface treatments for auxiliary companies in the sector is strengthening its commercial relations with the aeronautical industry in Seville and Cádiz. With a turnover of 30 million euros and more than 200 employees, the Group’s aim is to consolidate its leadership of the national market and increase its international export share.
The significant growth of the Andalusian aeronautical industry in recent years is attracting new businesses to the region to cooperate on major aeronautical projects and increasing commercial relations with suppliers from other important industrial zones linked to the sector in Spain. A good example is Grupo TTT, a company group specialising in the subcontracting of thermal and surface treatments for the complete construction of components to specifications, which is currently in the midst of a process of global expansion of its added-value products and services.
This company based in Guipúzcoa is focusing in particular on its relations with Andalusian auxiliary companies located in Seville and Cádiz through its work in the field of surface treatments and finishes for the aerostructures of leading aircraft manufacturers. With over 40 years of experience, the company is a leader in this sector. “We purchased the first vacuum oven to be installed in Spain,” says Xabier Berasategi, CEO of Grupo TTT.
Since then, this company group which started out as Tratamientos Térmicos TTT S.A. has concentrated on thermal and surface treatment technology in the Spanish automotive and aeronautical industry. Berasategi still recalls “the first thermal treatment cycles for steel commissioned by Sener, and the complicated vacuum levels required for the parts we made for the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERn), today called the European Organisation for nuclear Research.
” The company also witnessed the birth of the aeronautical industry in the Basque Country, starting with the establishment of ITP in the late 1980s through Rolls-Royce and the first certification obtained to carry out thermal treatments for this English firm in the factories of Zamudo and Santa Bárbara in Oviedo. During this period Grupo TTT began to carry out R+D projects with InASMET (the Metallurgical Research Association of the Basque Country) in the field of plasma coating technology required for aircraft engines, which some years later led to the first InASMET spin-off and one of the company's subsidiaries: the company Iontech, which is currently dedicated to plasma and HVOF coatings. In the 1990s the company participated in the creation of Gamesa Aeronáutica, currently Aernnova. It also began to carry out projects with leading aircraft manufacturers such as Embraer, Bombardier and Sikorsky, and shortly afterwards EADS-CASA.
“As a consequence we established contacts with the all major manufacturers and most of the Spanish auxiliary industry, starting in the centre of the country and working further south with the transfer of metal activities from Getafe to Seville and Cádiz,” says Berasategi. Since then, Grupo TTT has been a leader in the field of thermal treatments and plasma coatings for the Spanish aeronautical industry, with around 100 customers. A key factor has been its quality policy, which has enabled it to continuously meet all the standards and certifications required by the market, from ISO 9100 through to nADCAP special processes (SP) accreditation, as well as the specific standards of manufacturers.
Growth and strategy
Grupo TTT currently comprises five companies (Tratamientos Térmicos TTT, TTT Ejes, TTT Goiko, IkanKronitek and Iontech) which provide services and products for the automotive and aeronautical industry and manufacture of industrial machinery and tools, among others. Its areas of activity range from conventional coatings and treatments through to the latest surface engineering technology. The company had a total turnover of 30 million euros last year, with a 20% export share and around 240 employees.
The company's strategy is to continue to consolidate its portfolio of national customers. It is also focusing its efforts in Andalusia, where it works for important aeronautical companies in the region, particularly those specialising in metal tooling. Its customers include Sofitec, Aernnova Andalucía, Meupe, Airgrup, TADA, Inespasa, InTECair, Aercal and Consur, among others. However, the CEO of the Group highlighted that “the end customers for the parts we work with are major aircraft manufacturers and Tier One suppliers such as Airbus, Aernnova, ITP, Messier-Dowty and CESA.” The most in-demand jobs include thermal treatments (tempering, precipitation, strain relief) nitriding, hard-chrome plating, grinding and different tests (hardness, traction, and adherence).
The company is committed to continuous development through participation in innovation and development projects under the auspices of different public bodies in collaboration with other European companies and research centres. “Innovation is a constant feature in the development of the Group and the technological basis for the creation of new business units.” The need to finalise the coating process offered to customers led to investments in new surface finishing technologies such as grinding and polishing, along with other types of coatings such as HVOF and hard-chrome plating which are in high demand in the aeronautical industry. To continue to meet these needs, Grupo TTT began to collaborate with Messier-Dowty in 2002 to develop chrome coatings with subsequent grinding for the landing gear of the major Airbus programmes. Applying the knowledge acquired during this initial collaboration with Messier-Dowty and subsequently with CESA, one of the company's subsidiaries, IkanKronitek, now offers a combination of different technologies which includes chrome plating and grinding. Together with the recent incorporation of its Shot-Peening processes, it now offers the advantages of having a single interface for the subcontracting of parts of the manufacturing process, resulting in reduced ageing periods and transport savings.
In addition, Grupo TTT carries out tests for the entire surface coating and treatment process (for example, the traction tests associated with any thermal process to ensure its correct application), with all the resources and certifications necessary for their execution in its facilities, including nADCAP accreditation. This Spanish company is also making important technology investments. Highlights in this respect, apart from the Shot-Peening facility mentioned above, include the recent purchase of an active screen plasma nitriding facility which offers more consistent results than conventional nitriding techniques and avoids the damage caused by arcing.
It has also recently added a Charpy test machine to carry out resilience tests on core samples.