Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Engineering firm offers ‘cure’ for parts industry
CAR parts manufacturer has invested £250,000 on an advanced process which engineers believe could speed up production and reduce energy emissions.
German-owned multinational engineering firm ElringKlinger, which employs 130 people in Redcar, east Cleveland, has developed the cured-in-place (CIP) technology at the North-East site and plans to create 60 jobs there in the next few years.
The precision manufacturing process seals automotive parts, increases production, reduces energy emissions and could potentially replace the traditional metal gasket.
Mike Swankie, engineering manager at ElringKlinger GB, said: “The use of CIP is growing rapidly, since it is advantageous in terms of high precision, saving energy, space and reducing waste.
“It achieves high productivity and its usage could considerably reduce environmental waste in the engineering sector. We use the CIP process to produce high quality BMW engine castings.
“This is a highly effective system that completes a unit run in just seven minutes so there is great potential for other applications to be incorporated onto the production line.”
The Redcar site designed the CIP application process on site using a prototype and developing programming from which to test methods on.
The prototype was developed in the research and development department at the firm, where experienced engineers adapted a robot dispensing unit for the sealant medium.
The engineers then analysed the capability of the new sealing paths against traditional manufacturing techniques in achieving strict design parameters, to further refine the manufacturability of the design.
Mr Swankie said: “Significant in-house research and development took place around a measuring technique that consisted of a laser used to check the flatness of the casting and accuracy before the medium was applied through a pressure nozzle.
“It was a long process. However, applying the medium manually proved to us that this new technique was achievable so long as we were able to reproduce our findings developing a precision accurate manufacturing method.
“We looked for the best ways to apply a medium and decided on an XYZ gantry with U-channel brushless linear servomotors – ideal for alignment and positioning.”
The CIP technology at the automotive firm took three months to fully develop and install and takes up only 64 square metres of space.
It operates using tunnel oven elements heating the castings to 115C and is in operation eight hours a day producing 20,000 units a year – on average 85 sealed engine castings daily.
The cured sealant is applied through a high pressure nozzle at an accuracy of 100 microns high and 4mm wide, setting a benchmark for other in UK engineering firms.
Mr Swankie said: “Now we are confident in the results of this technology, we hope to develop CIP further and have laid the foundations for UV technology.
“We are entering an exciting phase for the company with ambitious growth plans already under way.”