Drilling and threading work with round tools influences approximately 15 to 50 percent of the total costs per part in the automotive industry—therefore being able to reduce costs here remains a key factor for success. Article by Walter AG.
The cost per part (cpp) is the gauge by which process efficiency is measured in the automotive industry. The machining tool represents a not inconsequential cost factor in this regard. This is particularly true of solid carbide tools (round tools), which are primarily used for holemaking, milling and threading.
Estimates calculated by tool specialists Walter AG indicate that these tools already make up around half of the machining applications in the automotive industry today. Depending on the characteristics of the component, drilling and threading work with round tools influences approximately 15 to 50 percent of the total costs per part. Being able to reduce costs once again here remains a key factor for success.
Up to Speed with Automotive Industry Trends
The transition from combustion engines to electric motors or other alternative drives, which is gaining momentum as a result of tighter environmental regulations, touches every area of the automotive industry—right up to every last detail in the production processes. Walter has been on hand to actively accompany the sector through these changes from the very start: The company presents car manufacturers and suppliers around the world with a comprehensive portfolio of tools and services, which is constantly expanding through the addition of innovative new solutions. This means the automotive experts at Walter are always up to speed with the ever-growing number of new materials. What’s more, existing tool solutions for established processes are also optimised, usually to meet customer-specific requirements, or alternative solutions are devised on the basis of new technologies.
Lightweight materials now represent a significant portion of automotive production. For instance, the proportion of engine blocks made from aluminium today is already around 70 percent—in an area of industry that until only recently still favoured traditional materials such as grey cast iron and steel. Aluminium alloys have already become the default materials for transmission cases or oil pump housings, both for chassis elements and in structural components. And with the growing trend for electric drives, we will see more and more of these alloys in use.
Seeing the Bigger Picture to Reduce Costs
Complicated machining tasks, including those involving these new materials, or sophisticated part geometries with a lot of cavities increase the complexity of the machining process and, in turn, put extreme pressure on costs. This is where the Walter machining experts come in.
“As a manufacturer of premium products with 100 years of experience, we already offer highly effective and optimum solutions for a diverse range of applications from our standard range, which comprises more than 25,000 products in the solid carbide segment alone. Walter’s expertise, or ‘Engineering Kompetenz’, however, extends far beyond the individual machining tool. We focus on the overall machining strategy and the customer’s machining process. If our experts are involved in the development of production and tool management processes from an early stage, customers will often experience efficiency gains that are felt via more than just the machining tool,” explains Gerardo Campitiello, Component Manager Transportation at Walter. “Requirements, such as making unmanned production processes safe, ensuring reproducible process reliability and quality across a company’s production sites, or making tools available at all times, can only be met by taking a holistic approach. Whether selecting the right tools from the Walter standard range or developing a special tool to meet process-specific specifications, it takes careful consideration of the full picture.”
A Quick Path to an Instantly Productive Special Tool
In the automotive industry, processes that may seem time-consuming on paper are actually completed in very tight time frames in practice. It is with this in mind that Walter establishes its own processes and structures: For instance, tools from the standard range are with the customer within 24 hours of ordering. The Walter Xpress special tool service ordinarily delivers tools, which are developed and manufactured to customer specifications, within two to four weeks. This is based on an automated 3D process, which can be adapted to suit the project in question. A dedicated in-house department (Business Applications Development) constantly monitors market trends to improve existing application solutions and develop brand new approaches. This team of engineers takes on the role of Component Managers, responsible for individual components such as engine blocks, housings, e-axle drives, turbine casings, or crankshafts. They are among the first to know about the market trends and technological advances, which is reflected in their product development work.
The new Walter solutions can be tested in true-to-life situations at the Technology Center in Tübingen, Germany: the test run on the machine incorporates the very latest visualisation and simulation technologies.
This means Walter customers in all areas of the automotive industry benefit from the in-depth technical expertise of an innovative service provider who is active the world over and is also involved in the relevant fundamental research. The company makes major investments in its own R&D projects, and in the development of its own production capabilities in areas that competitors often contract out to third parties—such as being one of the few providers on the market to have its own coating system.
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