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Automated Machining Cell for Automotive Shaft Production

To accommodate mass production at the rate of 2.5 mil units annually, at Glueckler Metal Inc., we engineered a custom manufacturing work cell for end-to-end automated production of the automotive engine shaft shown here.

Problem:

This alloy 1117 steel shaft measures 1.580" OD x 1.300" in length and requires critical tolerances of ±.00039" (±.010 mm) to ensure a precise fit and rotational balance in the final shaft assembly. With our previous experience, engineering capabilities, and industry qualifications, we were offered the opportunity to acquire the program for this part from an underperforming competitor. Our challenge was to develop a system for repeatable manufacturing of conforming product in high volume.

Solution:

Our approach involved capturing all elements of the manufacturing and measurement processes in a dedicated production cell and leveraging statistical/data based control to minimize scrap and defects. The system incorporates ten different machines to perform CNC machining, multiple inspection processes, serialization, and custom packaging. Along with integrated SCARA robotics and custom software to control part monitoring and transport, highlights of the system include part measurement with automated feedback, a custom designed thread check station, and a high-performance CMM with feedback control. This cell also incorporates 100% air gauging, an eddy current crack detection system, and a custom packaging and tray system.

This cell operates 24/7. With features such as feedback systems, centralized coolant and scrap recovery, and automated part orientation, tracking, and packaging, it requires minimal hands-on intervention, and our onsite maintenance department ensures maximum uptime. Periodic inspection line checks followed by dock audits and final certification were performed to ensure the system continued to run smoothly.

Results

In addition to attaining a long-term contract with high volume production requirements to date, we are involved in new product and generational design projects for this customer.

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Automated Machining Cell Specifications

Project Name & Description
Automated Machining Cell for Automotive Shaft Production
Automotive – Engine Accessory Shaft Production
Capabilities Applied/Processes
  • CNC machining from bar stock
  • Automated part lot collection (part orientation and presentation) central coolant and scrap recovery. Various robotic handling and RF Tag stationing.
  • Various automated part cleanliness stations
  • Dot-Peen marking computerized serialization (lot control)
  • Thread check
  • Vision system
  • Dual CMM custom design nesting checks with CNC offset feedback
  • Air gauging with CNC offset feedback
  • Eddy Current crack detection
  • Customized tray and packaging
  • Subsequent RP application
Equipment Used to Manufacture Part
  • 10 Nakamura-Tome WT150 CNCs (LNS Servo S3 Mag. Loaders)
  • Custom made gantry, RF nesting track and SCARA robot implementations at sequential process-defined stations.
  • Numerous Windows based computer applications to control part monitoring and transport, part measurement and automated feedback to CNC machine tool offsets.
  • Hybrid (Pneumatic/ Electric) custom designed thread check system
  • Multiple Keyence camera mounted pods
  • Mitutoyo Mach V high production CMM with custom nesting track stations with feedback control
  • Landau air gauge system and feedback control
  • Andec eddy current crack detection system
  • Custom packaging and tray system
  • RP application and rapid air knife / dryer
Overall Part Dimensions
1.580 (40.15mm) OD x 1.300 (33.1mm) LGTH
Tightest Tolerances
+/-.00039 (+/-.010 mm). Critical In-Process Characteristic.
Material Used
1117 Steel
Material Finish
RP (Customer specific)
Industry for Use
Automotive
In Process Testing/Inspection Performed
Production cell runs 24/7 with all process measuring checks fully automated. Scheduled and periodical inspection line checks followed by dock audits and final certification all confirm that system is running correctly.
Volume
2.5 million +
Delivery/Turnaround Time
1 to 2 weeks from order forecast release. (Part to be family compliant)
Delivery Location
North America / South America. End-use Global.
Standards Met
ISO 9001 Certified (TS Compliant)
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