Precision Machining in the Automotive Industry
The automotive industry is the largest market for precision machined parts. See how shops are handling the large volumes, tight process control and high quality this industry requires.
The largest market affecting production machining is the automotive industry—these facilities are equipped to handle the large volumes, process control and high quality the market requires. This industry is going through some major changes, but projections are positive in the long run. And as automotive technology advances, manufacturers will have new opportunities to get a piece of the action. These are a few of the automotive applications Production Machining has covered in recent years.
Autoliv identifies the most important issues for users to resolve using visualized data from Cloud Dispatch.
Although it's now used by all types of manufacturers, lean manufacturing has its roots in the automotive industry; the Toyota Production System (TPS) is considered a precursor of lean. The system is still prominent today among automotive manufacturers. So when Autoliv, a company that develops, manufactures and markets airbags, seatbelts and steering wheels for leading car manufacturers, wanted a system to fill data gaps and create a sustainable culture of continuous improvement, it turned to the Cloud Dispatch lean execution system (LES) from Leading2Lean. The product is designed to hardwire lean into organizations by promoting communication to resolve quality or machine issues, scheduling maintenance and preventive maintenance, setting up audits and more. A document feature links to multiple systems and leads documents to the cloud, putting information at users’ fingertips. Additional modules and tools are available for tracking and facilitating continuous improvement.
Real-time notification, accessible throughout the organization, is used to dispatch technicians to resolve equipment issues.
Autoliv first implemented the Cloud Dispatch at its two plants in Utah in 2010, and saw improved operational availability of its production line, along with improved quality, product cost, training and employee certification. The system’s success at the North American plants led the company to implement it in more than 80 plants across 27 countries. The global rollout has created a global plant standard, augmented lean performance, improved employee engagement and reduced the number of systems employees use. The company has seen the improvements from its North American facilities spread across the rest of its plants.
To learn more about how Autoliv improved global operational availability, read “Lean Strategies Drive Automotive Efficiency.”
Cleanliness is Critical for
Lev Pekarsky, a technical expert in contamination and filtration at the Ford Motor Company, uses a cleanliness analysis system that gives a microscopic analysis of particles, automatically recognizing metallic pieces that can't be seen with the human eye.
Most car buyers don’t think about the cleanliness of the components in the vehicle they are purchasing, but it’s critical to the way the car operates. Carmakers are working behind the scenes with parts cleaning experts to improve cleanliness specifications to drivers can get the most out of their investments. These cleaner car parts enable drivers to go longer between oil changes and have reduced maintenance in general. Cleaner parts have also led to reduced warranty claims, even during increased warranty periods.
Optical detection technology enables users to inspect and analyze contaminants, including white or translucent particles such as aluminum oxide or glass.
In order to ensure that clean transmission parts are going into its vehicles, the Ford Motor Co. began developing contamination specifications in 2001. These detailed specs cover information such as which solvents to use, parts collection and a part’s disposition (scrap or reuse) after inspection. Ford has transmission contamination labs in America, China and Mexico that regularly inspect transmission components for contamination. The company has also established a Product Development Contamination Lab in Livonia, Michigan, to develop new contamination inspection procedures and support special investigations. The labs are equipped with automated optical microscopy (AOM) systems from Jomesa North America. The AOMs are automated CNC microscopes with a digital camera, so operators can easily capture and analyze images of debris collected from manufactured parts. In addition, Jomesa has developed a Ford-specific database to standardize how suppliers report cleanliness data for analysis.
For more on creating cleanliness standards for the automotive industry, read “Cleanliness is Critical for Automotive Suppliers.”
Humbel Gear Technology produces gears and transmission components for industries that require high-quality and high-precision parts, including the electric vehicle and aerospace markets.
As companies develop the vehicles of the future, including electric cars, they will require smaller batch sizes of high-quality parts. Humbel Gear Technology, a Swiss company that produces high-precision gears and transmission components for industries such as Formula 1, Formula E, aerospace and electric car prototypes. These industries require smaller lot sizes than traditional automotive manufacturing—200 parts is considered a large batch for the Swiss facility. Although the lots are small, the quality and precision of these parts has to be high.
The VL 4 vertical turning center from Emag has a conveyor belt that feeds blank parts into the machine, where the pick-up spindle loads and unloads itself automatically.
To meet these requirements, the manufacturer implemented a VL 4 vertical turning lathe with pick-up spindle from Emag. This machine is traditionally used to process large batches of parts, but Humbel has found that it is just as effective for the work it does. The pick-up spindle, in particular, was a selling point for the manufacturer; it is a simple, effective way to automate production of smaller batches. The machine also has a Mineralit polymer concrete base to reduces vibrations during milling and ensure longer tool lives, a main spindle which is fastened to the front of the machine with a compound slide rest to enable dynamic movement in the X and Z axes, and a 12-post tool turret that’s suited for driven tools and is designed to reduce indexing times. These features ensure that the parts Humbel produces meet its customers’ strict quality standards.
Read “Shop Turns to Vertical Turning for Small Batch Sizes” to learn how vertical turning lathes are suited for both large and small batch sizes.
Schurter's plant for automated production of electrical fuses has four Type 9217A piezoelectric small force sensors with matching maXYmos BL evaluation systems.
As society transitions from using cars powered by combustion engines to cars powered by batteries, manufacturers serving the automotive industry will be making different types of parts than they have in the past. For example, these vehicles can require as many as 400 or 500 electrical fuses, which are comprised of many small parts and must meet the strict standards of the automotive industry.
The fuses’ spring force is tested in the first station at the automated plant (center right). Another sensor performs a cross-check about once in every 100 parts (front left).
Schurter is a Swiss company that specializes in electronics and electrical components, among other things. When one of its customers commissioned the company to produce large quantities of fuses for use in safety-critical areas, it reached out to Robomat AG to develop an automated plant to manufacture and inspect these parts. The plant includes four Type 9217A piezoelectric small force sensors with matching maXYmos BL evaluation systems from Kistler to test spring force as well as the force applied to position covers on the fuses. In addition to checking parts, the sensors themselves are cross-checked once in every 100 parts.
Read “In-Process Testing for Automated Electronics Production” to learn more about automated testing of electrical fuses for automotive applications.
Using Grinding Instead of Turning in Series Production
Junker's Grindstar machine is designed to produce high volumes of small round parts using profile grinding and a bar feeder.
The automotive industry requires large batch sizes of parts, so suppliers must find the most economical way to produces as many parts as possible. Many of these parts are turned, but according to Junker, grinding can be an even more efficient option. The company’s Grindstar machine is specifically designed to quickly produce large batches of small components, like those required by automakers.
Profile grinding has a number of benefits over turning, including enhanced process reliability, improved part quality, minimized machine downtime, and elimination of secondary operations (such as surface grinding or polishing), chip impressions and burrs.
Producing parts via grinding can have a number of benefits over turning. The Grindstar can produce complete parts, from cutoff to profiling, enhancing process reliability, minimizing machine downtime and eliminating secondary operations, such as surface grinding and polishing. Grinding produces parts with improved dimensional accuracy and better surface quality than turned parts. The process also does not create burrs or chip impressions on parts. The machine’s grinding wheels have a cooling system that ensures the wheels work consistently for six months or to a production volume of 300,000 parts.
To learn more about using grinding instead of turning in automotive manufacturing, read “Using Grinding Instead of Turning in Series Production.”