Same machine, same footprint – EMP doubles capacity
Keeping pace with exponential order growth can be difficult for Chinese foundries. One solution adopted by China Metal International (CMI) Group’s CMB branch in Suzhou City was to double the capacity of a trusted machine and increase its efficiency by 40% by opting for a Wheelabrator Equipment Modernisation Programme.
Located in Suzhou, CMB is a division of CMI Group that specialises in the casting of automotive parts and components including cylinder blocks, mechanical parts and compressor parts that they supply to major automotive manufacturers.
CMB purpose-built a brand new 200,000 square metre facility which it completed in 2013. There, it installed a DISA moulding line and five Wheelabrator shot blast machines including the DV2-450 manipulator gripper machine, two HT 2-638X2 Hanger type blast machines, a DTC 2-338 Through-feed rocker barrel and a SPH Spinner hanger machine.
Despite having an output capacity of 8,000 tonnes per month, market demand was increasing so much that, by the beginning of 2018, CMB was still struggling to keep pace with customer requests for cylinder blocks finished using the Wheelabrator DV2 shot blast machine.
Adding to the challenge, space at CMB was at a premium. Limited workshop square footage meant that CMB could not install another manipulator shot blast machine to clean the cylinder blocks.
There was no option but to think creatively.
After a detailed consultation with CMB to understand their challenges, difficulties and requirements, the team at Wheelabrator proposed a solution: increase blasting from two to four components per cycle to double production capacity.
Engineers at Wheelabrator spent several months consulting with the client to fine-tune the design of the upgrades.
They then embarked on a programme of works to reconfigure the machine to deliver the same high quality finish while doubling capacity to four components.
The re-engineering schedule focussed on two key areas. Firstly the machine was reconfigured to operate with two columns, each clamping two workpieces, doubling capacity and adding an element of complexity. To enable this, the manipulator was upgraded to enable free movement across two axes.
Once these enhancements had been completed, the roller conveyor was widened, re-positioned and the machine was also fitted with a new transfer car.
These upgrades were all vital in facilitating the transport, loading and unloading of the larger volume of parts.
Given CMB’s time constraints and production pressures, the Wheelabrator team had to complete the refurbishment incredibly quickly.
With lots of overtime and 24/7 working, the installation took just 7 days.
From the moment the machine was recommissioned, it went from blasting two components in a 72 second cycle (or four components over two cycles in 144 seconds) to blasting four components in one 90 second cycle.
While the machine’s loading capacity has been doubled, machine efficiency has increased by 40% thanks to the resulting cycle improvements.
Furthermore, CMB’s overall output has risen by at least 30% with the number of cylinder blocks produced each month rising from 50-70K before the EMP to more than 100K pieces immediately afterwards.
Equally importantly, the customer is highly satisfied with the quality and finish of the machine, with expectations genuinely exceeded.
Mr Peilin Su, manager of the CMB equipment department said: “This equipment modernisation project has not only increased our productivity, efficiency and cost-efficiency, it helped us to avoid the expense of new equipment or reconfiguring our factory layout to free up extra space.
“Before the modernisation, we were worried that doubling the output of the machine might impact quality. However, the Wheelabrator team has done a fantastic job and the results are exceeding our expectations – the quality of the finished parts is exceptional.
“As well as helping us to increase capacity and reduce bottlenecks, the machine is helping us to ensure our orders are fulfilled reliably and smoothly. The EMP has been a fantastic improvement so we are very grateful to Norican Group for delivering such a good solution.”