For automotive manufacturers, cost control and quality are vital when it comes to high volume and critical engine components. Bob Remler, Technical Sales Manager in North America at Ultraseal International, discusses how one manufacturer managed to reduce costs and improve operational performance by using robotic vacuum impregnation to seal porosity, minimise scrappage and increase throughput.
Trends and challenges
It is no surprise to learn that the automotive industry in the US is the single largest sector for metal die casting. In today’s vehicles, a high proportion of components – including cylinder heads, engine blocks, transmission cases, e-motor housings, and structural parts – are produced using high pressure die casting processes.
As the industry faces the ongoing challenge of reducing environmental emissions, increasing fuel economy and delivering better performance, manufacturers are seeking methods to reduce vehicle weight and improve overall efficiency. As a result, many are turning to a combination of thinner walled castings and using lighter weight metals such as aluminium and magnesium.
Hand in hand with the move to new production methods and significant research into new casting processes and techniques, comes the shift towards automation. Industry 4.0 is defining the competitive landscape of the industry, with many automotive manufacturers and OEMs turning to digital transformation initiatives to drive efficiencies through their manufacturing processes. This includes smart factories to ‘cobotics’ (the name given to the collaboration between a person and a robot), digital supply networks, artificial intelligence and automation of repetitive processes.
However, while some industry pain points are removed as manufacturing technology and processes evolve, one legacy challenge remains – that of porosity. Porosity is one of the defects most frequently encountered in aluminium die casting. These microscopic voids reduce the density of components, leading to leaks. For parts that go into applications which need to be air or fluid-tight – for example in fuel or cooling systems – this can be an especially critical issue.
Untreated, casting porosity leads to costly scrappage, creating waste inefficiencies in materials, energy and production time.
Specific Challenges Faced by a Respected Engine Manufacturer
For a leading US based manufacturer of engines, off-road vehicles and motorbikes, creating best-in-class vehicles and achieving operational excellence is key to its operating ethos and continued success.
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