Technical Session Reports
Kasi Arul, senior manager, Powertrain Process Engineering discussed the operations and processes used by the Renault Nissan Technology and Business Centre India (RNTBCI). The business centre is a joint venture established by the OEMs to provide research, support and development for new automotive business and technology projects. The facility also undertakes product and process development. Arul explained how they apply a ‘Design to Quality’ (DTQ) process to improve the quality of powertrains in production. This involves a combination of reapplying elements that are tried and tested, and developing new ideas based on the thorough analysis of problems and potential solutions. The DTQ uses a quality assurance matrix (MQA) to establish the cause of any production issues and establish a course of action. The aim is to deliver a ‘fool-proofing’ solution for the manufacturing process.
Challenges facing the Indian foundry industry was the topic of a presentation by Amar Patil, head of the foundry unit for Mahindra & Mahindra. He outlined the company’s operations and pointed to the importance of the foundry industry as a major driver of Indian GDP. While high levels of growth are predicted for the industry in the next few years (predicted to reach $10 billion by 2016), Patil warned that there is a need for continued development of all the production operations, as new technologies become available. He explained how the industry is adopting lean manufacturing methods and working on improving retention of skilled staff as well as developing the skills of existing staff. The issue of environmental sustainability is one which is making an impact on the foundry industry and Patil emphasised that this has to be included in any future developments.
Hari Prakash, sales director for Castrol Industrial Lubricants India, explained some of the new challenges being faced in machining powertrain components. New materials now being used by OEMs have required companies like Castrol to provide new solutions to not just maintain current levels of efficiency but improve them. Compacted graphite iron (CGI) now being used in engine castings presents challenges to tool life and geometry and with the resulting higher levels of graphite in the swarf. Prakash discussed how Castrol had developed machining fluids to improve productivity and reduce waste (through better recycling). He also pointed out how minimising waste would also contribute to improving plant safety.
Tooling solutions and machining technologies were the topics presented by Kennametal’s general manager for sales, Vivek Maheshwari. He explained how the company is developing new machining and tooling solutions to improve productivity, accuracy and finish of powertrain components. Quality control is an ongoing process for OEMs and Tier suppliers, and is a topic that is always raised at the conferences. Bernhard Konzet, general manager of Blulink/Accurate discussed the importance of linking the shopfloor operations to the strategic planning. He explained the importance of quality control as a key ‘puller’ in the world class manufacturing concept, and how it linked strongly to the other WCM pillars. Konzet stressed the importance of quality control data distribution; these processes often being isolated in a single workstation, and that station in-turn being isolated from the rest of data management process. He highlighted how is was possible to develop a standardized workflow process across a number of different areas of a business.
Yogesh Morade, Head – Engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE) Die Shop, Mahindra & Mahindra, opened the session with his presentation entitled Die Making: First Time Right. He ran through the process flow of die making at the carmaker: RFQ and order, process plan, simulation planning, 3D design, CNC programming, and pattern making. He said the company’s aim is to be independent of external agencies for all their stamping activity. He went on to show slides on defects in stamping, cracks in parts, shock lines, wrinkles, deformation, springback and trim line and hole forming problems. He talked of the vital importance of ‘first time right’, some of the challenges to this philosophy being styling and part engineering requirements (with Mahindra’s vehicle styling becoming more complex on vehicles such as XUV500), the use of high strength steels and lighter gauge steels, a greater number of unique parts, the use of new materials, including composite structures, and co-relating simulations and try-outs. He commented on the changes from sequential to concurrent engineering and the use of ‘virtual try-out’, the use of CAE and other process simulation, particularly for springback analysis and compensation. He spoke of implementing new machining strategies for skin (A-surface) panels dies, and how the use of optical in-line scanning during the stamping process instead of CMM measurement in the finished part only, allowed panel checking without taking the part out of the press.
Sanjay Thakar, General Manager – Body Engineering at Maruti Suzuki followed, with observations of the demands on stamping caused by the changing volume demands created by the expansion of the market in India, for different segments of vehicles. He told of Maruti Suzuki’s raw materials focus, process control, collaboration with steel suppliers, and how the body engineering department is concentrating on raw materials with a narrow band of properties. His team is trying to eliminate panel faults through better dust control, autonomous maintenance of presses by their operators and more automated handling (avoiding damage-creating manual unloading of panels onto racks). Indigenous Indian steel suppliers are also on his radar, he is keen source from as close to home as possible.
Blank size (and shape) optimisation is another target at Maruti, to increase yield per tonne of steel, along with rationalising design through use of CAD data; this is most important during die trials, he added. World market models of Suzuki cars also presented the possibility of simplifying die and part design to global standards, he said. Thakar showed a scrap flow simulation model on a slide, illustrating how virtual interference checking could avoid jams in stamping and the resultant waste.
Thakar spoke of the future of stamping at Maruti, listing virtual prototyping, light material development, advanced high strength steels, aluminium, hot forming technology, tailored roll blanks, hybrid materials, automatic die design, variable clearance design of dies, automated die storage and retrieval and servo mechanical presses as key to the efficient press shop of tomorrow.
Klaus Rothenhagen, Vice President, International Sales at AIDA Europe showed the latest developments in servo presses, and pointed out that energy saving in heavy plant had become a primary concern for his customers. He outlined what can be achieved in this area through intelligent motion control. The debate of water- and air-cooled motors was covered, with an interesting aside on press installation in earthquake-prone regions, where air cooled motors are safer in case of any movement of the press.
Intelligent motor control can also reduce noise a great deal through implementing a ‘slow touch’ press cycle; this is important in increasingly urban-sited plants and Rothenhagen showed an animation of press control with this system. India is the last BRIC region without a tandem servo line; they are widespread in China, South America, Russia, Europe and Japan. With global platform strategies spreading amongst carmakers, Rothenhagen predicted that India will soon fall in line. End-of-line handling challenges will be exacerbated by the increased stamping speeds of the modern press line he said, and he encouraged robot and conveyor makers to address this area. Energy management was covered in illustrations of clutch brakes on presses being replaced by intelligent motors. An ‘active’ die cushion was shown, this can recover up to 80% of stamping energy through a hydraulic energy transfer system and can be simulated through a Delmia simulation as Rothenhagen showed in a series of slides.
Abhay Kulkarni, Project Manager – Sheet Metal Fixtures Design at Tata Technologies asked Yogesh Morade is dealing with springback. Morade said: “Predicting springback is one aspect, correction another. The problem is even more unpredictable in high strength steels and I want to see more progress on this from software developers. It also needs to be tackled from product design onwards.”
Sanjay Thakar of Maruti concurred and added: “As the complexity of [stamped] parts continues to grow, so efficiency is improving; ultimately costs will come down but we are still in the learning stages. Other challenges include the retention of die designers and the need to standardise die processes in the industry.”
Sachin Nirgudkar, Vice-President of Schuler India asked how one can simulate a die shape reliably when you move dies from press to press. Morade replied that: “ We convert all the information into 3D curves which works well, but we need to model better to establish proper die ‘identity’ and thus make dies more moveable and adaptable.”
A speaker from the first session, Dileep Naik of Tata Motors asked which is the most popular simulation software. Sanjay Thakar replied: “PAMSTAMP [from ESI] and Autoform are top of our list but all software in this area is evolving very fast and is generally comparable.” Yogesh Morade agreed on the comparability of programmes and added that at Maruti they favour PAMSTAMP.
The Indian automotive market is unique for a number of reasons, explained Subramanian Devarajan, senior vice-president, Production Engineering for TVS Motor. He described how this unique and challenging market drives the need for ‘lean and green’ processes at TVS. The move from mass production towards mass customization meant that manufacturing complexity was higher despite lower volumes. Added to this there are number of cost factors that are beyond the OEMs control, such as material costs and final price of the product. This will cause pressure on margins from both ends of the manufacturing process.
To address this Devarajan explained how TVS has been developing lean processes to reduce waste across its manufacturing operations. One example was the reduction in the size of the production cells. Part of the process was to list all of the cell features and ask five times ‘why’ they are necessary. Another example of waste reduction at TVS was the transition from one common water chiller to serve all the welding units to individual chillers mounted next to the welding equipment, reducing the amount of water stored and the distance it had to be moved. Energy savings had been made through changing from single phase to 3-phase electrical supply, he explained, and waste thinners was recycled and used for the initial cleaning stage during colour changeover in the paintshop. The company is looking at reducing waste in every area of its operations including minimizing the distance workers have to travel between operations. Devaranjan said that TVS conducts its own benchmarking process to monitor and improve all production processes.
Anand Misra, General Manager of the paintshop at Ford India’s Chennai plant, started off the Paintshop session with a breakdown of the operating costs of operations in a typical paintshop. He showed pie charts illustrating the total operating cost of a paint plant (55% of total plant cost), bulk material cost (72%) and water usage (24%), all showing the opportunities for considerable overall savings in more eficient finishing lines.
Misra talked of how Ford had made great savings using the three-wet process and oven heat recovery, and using variable frequency drive fans in the ovens. He also compared the costs of a conventional paint process, with primer bake, to the three-wet process. An exciting alternative to expensive strip or halogen lighting in the inspection stage was illustrated; light ‘tunnels’, large diamter tubes with reflective liners that ‘funnelled’ outside light into the plant; this also gives amore natural light that makes colour inspection more accurate, and is less tiring to the eyes of the inspectors.
Other energy-saving measures shown included automated on and off entry/exit sprayers for the degreasing stage and extensive reuse of pre-treatment water.
Joachim Hug, Manager of Key Account Sales at Eisenmann, showed the company’s new E-Shuttle 220 system, designed for restricted height applications; this has a 2-axis parallelogram action that gives the body being dipped a smoother ‘dip-dive’ while being lighter in weight that previous popular body transport systems. A clever use of a pendulum weight turns the body without powered lifting, also saving energy.
Eisenmann’s E-Scrub overspray separation system was also highlighted in slides, showing an application at Porsche in Zuffenhausen; this uses 90% recirculated air and 90% recycled water for a 17 job-per-hour (jph) paint line. Volkswagen’s Bratislava line was also illustrated: a 38.5 jph paint line which treats 173,000 bodies per year with very low solids emissions: 0.28 mg/m3, and noise reduced to 75db.
Hug was joined on the stage by Nileshkumar Shimpi, Divisional Manager (Technical Planning) at Mercedes-Benz India who showcased the new Eisenmann paintshop at the carmaker’s Chakan, Pune plant. Running since July 2012, this is a 20,000 job-per-year (jpy) installation, which is expandable to 40,000 jpy and is used for the C- and E-Class cars; it will be used for S-Class when the larger car moves from painted CKD to more full production in India. Designed for water-borne, the plant runs solvent-borne paints at present. Slides showed how every body is tracked with RFID tags as it is handled by the Eisenmann VarioLoc modular skid conveyor system and a stop and go EMS conveyor, and is painted using ABB robots. The Pune paintshop boasts of achieving the same standard of finish as all Mercedes-Benz paintshops in Europe.
Energy conservation was the theme of the Dürr presentation, given by Michael Berger, Managing Director of Dürr India and Ulrich Möllmann, worldwide product manager of the company’s EcoEMOS energy management system.
400 litres of water usage per car has been the ‘holy grail’ figure to undercut for paintshops, for many years and Berger showed how using the company’s EcoBell 3 and other products could bring total water usage down to 397 litres per car, with less than 160 litres of waste water.
The paintshop is an area of the car plant that would seem tailor-made for a modular approach but most providers have not capitalised on this; Berger talked of Dürr’s new modular EcoReBooth paint booth concept and how it is totally scaleable through its modular design, and how it is most suitable for expanding paintshops on brownfield sites. The company’s solar oven heating concept was showcased in some detail with slides illustrating the heat and power system with gas turbine power generation and showing the ‘cascade’ of heat energy being transferred by a hot water system.
Ulrich Möllmann presented the company’s EcoEMOS energy measurement system, showing how ERP and MES can report to the central EcoEMOS to track energy savings with detailed data, broken down by shift and production-related KPI, with clear gap indicators that show when energy is being used and where it can be saved. Other advantages of the system are its web capability: it can be accessed from anywhere via an online connection, and its compatibility with all PLCs.
Demand fluctuations, increasing levels of customer quality expectations, global competition and exciting new alternative power vehicle concepts were themes that emerged from the Heavyweight Manufacturing – Truck and Bus session. Dileep Naik, Head of Auto Projects & Production Engineering at Tata Motors told the delegates that customers in India are coming to expect regularly refreshed vehicles, trucks and bus platforms as well as passenger cars. He spoke of how the greatest demands from buyers are in powertrain efficiency and total vehicle sophistication. Tata is addressing these demands through higher grade materials in engine components, composite materials usage in press parts, advanced paint materials and techniques, electronics integration in products, flexible manufacturing setups, flexible BIW lines and flexible assembly setups.
Advances in powertrain materials were illustrated by Tata’s move to higher grade castings for cylinder blocks. Naik showed slides describing how the company has moved from using 190-210 Brinell Hardness Number (BHN) grade cylinder blocks in the past, to 210-230 BHN blocks in present production, and its intention to move to 230-245 BHN in the future. These developments have allowed peak firing pressures to increase from 160 bar to 180 bar with concomitant savings in weight, achieved through thinner wall castings. With each slide on production advances, he noted the capital expenditure cost (CAPEX) and equipment used to achieve the targets. In the case of the new cylinder block materials, Naik spoke of buying new machining centres from MAG at a cost of US$3.7 million, single-machine multi-stage bore honing in place of previously separate operations at US$553,000, vacuum caburizing for heat treatment, US$1.45 million; and a flexible automated transmission assembly line at US$3.87 million.
An interesting study of a composite laminated engine sump was shown, illustrating its construction of two metal plates with a sandwiched layer of MPM HT 80 SS-4071 polymer material which gives better drawability in the pressing stage and improved NVH on the vehicle.
Other highlights included the increased use of robotic handling on a Hitachi press line, tailored steel blanks in BIW, laser brazing, robotic flexible framers, medium frequency direct current (MFDC) welding guns, Ro-Dip conveyors and natural gas in place of propane in paintshop.
Naik also showed future engine programmes with schematics of the planned lines for automated assembly and testing, illustrating the company’s ambition to produce world-beating powertrains for heavy vehicles.
India as a supply base for global truck makers was highlighted in the presentation from Rajesh Mittal, Senior Vice-President and Head of Operations, Trucks, Buses and Engines at VE (Volvo Eicher). He spoke of how VE will supply the Volvo Group with medium duty (180 – 230 bhp) engines for Europe and for six other markets around the world, including the first Euro IV engine long block made in India. He talked of the challenges of making engines ‘frugally’ but to exacting Euro standards, using 50-70% Indian-made machinery and how the use of Indian skilled and semi-skilled labour helped make significant cost reductions.
Lean, flexible and efficient manufacturing was the theme of J Nirmal Babu, Divisional Manager of Projects, Ashokleyland Nissan’s presentation. He talked about gaining flexibility through multi-model handling [on one line], in hemming presses, and implementing lean principles with a cellular concept in the weld shop, by using extensive simulation. Poka Yoke initiatives in the weld line were also illustrated, and there were several slides on 3D digital modelling of plant layouts and work cell ultilisation models. Cycle time and inventory analysis was also shown, and an interesting example of a transition from CO2 to spot weld using a digital study techniques to redesign weld guns and BIW pieces for spot weld suitability was covered. Paintshop in heavy vehicles has its own particular challenges and Babu showed slides on commonised skids to accommodate short and longer cab profiles on different conveyors for BIW, PT/ED and paint lines.
As India’s truck and bus market continues to grow, so many Tier suppliers want to break into these markets. Kamal Tilani, General Manager of Sales and Marketing at
Veena Industries, a construction and mining equipment supplier that wants to develop its activities in truck and bus further. He outlined the company’s work with JCB, its capabilities in tooling manufacture for new applications, and its exciting new plant in Pune, complete with a state-of-the-art finishing and paintshop, possibly the largest in India with a capacity of 7.4 metres x 2 metres x 2 metres and 12.5 tonnes. This facility can offer sand blasting, phosphating, painting and drying.
Siemens’ Manfred J Schmidt, Senior Director Business Development and Sales Hybrid Drives presented a series of slides showing the company’s electric and hybrid drive solutions for truck and bus. London’s famous red Routemaster bus has been revived, with its disctinctive shape and open rear platform, but with a hybrid driveline using a diesel engine as a generator for a battery pack, and regenerative braking, to halve the fuel consumption of a typical stop and go city bus. The key to the high fuel efficiency are highly sophisticated permanent magnet motors: permanently excited synchronous motors with NdFeB magnets and water cooling that can be integrated into existing transmission layouts as well as freeing designers to locate them in more places on the chassis.
Schmidt also showed truck hybrid and electric drivelines, including a video of trucks using pantographs to pick up power from an overhead line on highways; using capacitors to allow them to leave and rejoin the grid during overtaking maneouvres.
Session moderator Sudar Balu began with an overview of developments in automation looking at the use of cloud based systems, active and passive energy management systems and intelligent sensors. Vikas Swami, vice-president Kuka Robotics India, commented on how the automotive industry continues to find new applications for robots. He explain that Kuka have developed a new ‘family’ of compact, lightweight robots that can perform the same tasks as larger, heavier systems. These new robots are designed to save space and reduce energy consumption. They feature a modular design which reduces the variety of spare parts required.
The challenges for sensor technology in the automotive industry were highlighted by Abhay Kumar and Andre Hack of SICK Sensor Intelligence. Safety in production operations is a concern as processes and cycle times become faster. They discussed the need to offer more complete, smart and cost effective safety solutions. Between them there presentation asked and answered a range of questions on how to establish what the right solution for your business might be and an explanation of the latest generation of safety light curtains, the deTec4 range. They also discussed track and trace systems, and sensors for quality control and automation applications.
Srinivas Kanumuri, industry director for Automotive SAP India, gave a presentation on IT integration in handling and automation processes. He described end-to-end material flow solutions, with systems configured to the individual needs of the company. Kanumuri provided the example of SAP’s work with Porsche at its Leipzig facility where they developed a parts sequencing system for the German car maker that helped deliver the right components to the line in sequence with the customer/car order being assembled. This system would detect any speed variation in the production line and compensate in the parts delivery.
C S Gopalakrishnan, General Manager, Head of Department for the Bodyshop at Hyundai’s Chennai plant, gave the AMS delegates a unique insight to a new BIW line, showing improvements made after studying and implementing ‘man movement reduction’. This involved changing such areas as the spot weld cells; these were reconfigured to bring all manual operations to one side of the line, avoiding the need for operators walk around the BIW. Other improvements shown included tuning the line balance by installing more conveyors for body loading, to keep up with the increased pace of operations in the BIW cells. This increased pace was brought about by combining the key jig and respot cells for the floorpan welding operations, for example. Simple systems like installing a ‘stopper’ switch on a body hoist so that the unit always stops in the same place and thus avoids being damaged against the framing by manually-controlled powered handling.
In spot welding, a clever modification has been made to the weld tips; a color sensor installed on the tip dressing station detects the condition of light reflective elements incorporated in the tip, so that the sensor could judge when dressing is required.
Laser applications in BIW were covered by Oliver Müllerschön of Trumpf, who showed established and new laser applications, welding on hotformed steel parts, laser brazing and powertrain gear welding. Müllerschön also talked about laser cutting and welding of parts for ‘e-motors’ – drive units for electric vehicles.
The difference between direct and remote laser welding is often misunderstood and he explained this clearly, showing how the process can make significant changes in vehicle design, as a laser can weld closer to panel edges, negating the need for flanges. Another useful advantage of remote lasers is the ability to direct the beam into hitherto inaccessible areas and how the mirror can be moved instead of moving the work, as required in many spot weld applications. He showed a video of a Mercedes-Benz van having the roof clamped into place and laser welded at high speed, with a clean joint that required no further covering before painting.
Further examples of the benefits of laser welding were illustrated with a comparison of a spot weld operation taking 35 seconds with four robots and five weld guns versus a laser doing the same job in 13 seconds with one robot and one scanner. Further examples included high speed joining of structural parts such as seat recliner mechanisms and floorpan sections. Hotformed parts present particular challenges to spot welding and conventional press trimming methods; laser cutting can tailor these parts rapidly and with no tool wear. Aluminium and hybrid part welding was covered, and powertrain gear welding examples showed how parts such as bolt flanges could be eliminated from transmission and axle parts. Carbon fibre presents special difficulties with distortion and de-lamination when trimming and this is eliminated with laser cutting, as Müllerschön explained.
Kuka Systems India’s expertise in line building was highlighted by Raghuraj Deshpande, Assistant Manager-Sales, Engineering & Projects who showed slides on bus body building with multiple variant accommodation and how Kuka supplied robotic welding for the driver cab section and MIG welding for the total platform in two variants and for 15 variants of the body.
Deshpande spoke of the special challenges designing fixtures to handle the long flexible body sections used in bus body manufacture, and using pneumatically-controlled ‘gangs’ of clamps to fix the long sections in a vertical frame, to save floor space.
Thomas Hofmeister of Kuka then showcased the company’s aluminium joining technology, talking on the challenges of clinching, riveting, piercing; how a large self-piercing riveting gun could take twice the time of a spot welder to make the same joint. His solution was to tailor the joining method to the application; in some cases, the company’s RoboSpin spot welder could save considerable time and maintenance, with its continuously turning tip that reduces the build-up of dross.
Kemppi is a Finnish company that has been more familiar in the aftermarket and repair area in the past; the company’s Managing Director of India operations, Arvind Vasu, gave a presentation on The Joy of Welding; of the pride in manual welding that the best equipment and the right attitude can instil in the welder.
Vasu spoke about the history of Kemppi; how the company pioneered the use of inverters and how these allow welding current to be digitised and monitored through software packages. These help the welder achieve the perfect arc for welding 1.00 mm sheet metal with control made by pulsing the weld current in response to feedback from the weld gun. Kemppi call this their ‘WiseThin’ system and it the use of higher weld power with reduced spatter. Vasu described it as: “A tailored cold arc process for manual and automated thin sheet welding and brazing.” He went on to show slides illustrating different ‘stick-out’ lengths of wire in MIG/MAG applications and how these use different currents to achieve optimum welding. He rounded off the presentation with pictures of different completed welds made with and without the company’s ‘WisePenetrationControl’ software which delivers consistent current to the weld pool regardless of changes in welding gun orientation or distance between the welding gun and the work piece. Vasu told of how this can be used in both manual, automated, and synergic MIG/MAG welding.
The benefits of rapid prototyping were discussed by Ajay Purohit, Technical Chief, Craftsmanship Tools & Rapid Prototyping Engineering Research Center, TATA Motors. The fast turn around of new components was a huge asset to R&D work, but there were still challenges, such as time disparity between the speed at which a part can be built (a matter of hours) and routine planning, which can takes days. Other issues he highlighted were the high cost of investment in the equipment, which meant it couldn’t be idle. Also the high cost of operations, so any problems need to be scrutinized closely.
Sivaramakrishnan Narayanan from IBM Global Business Services explained how analytics could help improve quality and reliability on the automotive sector. He pointed out that a large number of catastrophic machine failures are random and not predicted. He suggested that performance analytics could be applied to improve productivity and avoid warranty faults and repairs.
The vulnerability of automotive supply chains was the example given by Raffello Lepratti, head of Siemens VSS Automotive Overseas, for the need for global transparency in IT networks. By this he meant developing a supply chain tracking system that offered global capability and transparency at a local level. Given the potential disruption to production both up and down-stream if the supply chain is delayed or disrupted, Lepratti looked at what response mechanisms could be integrated into a tracking system.
Energy management is key to reliable production stated Pradeep Kumar of Schneider Electric. He explained that with car production set to double in the next three years the problem of energy supply and demand would grow. Mitsubishi Electric’s Kaoru Abe offered a presentation on plant optimization and with clear transfer of data across the shop floor.