Benteler Gruppe is one of the world leaders in integrated chassis modules. In the Spanish town of Vigo, Benteler recently started a new production line for axles for PSA’s M3 and M4 motor projects. Benteler required a solution for hardening welding seams and Wheelabrator supplied a shot peening machine which delivers the necessary blast performance specifications and cost efficiencies at the same time.
Complete Process Reliability
The axle welding seams between the reinforcement sheet and flange plate for wheel suspension are subject to special dynamic stresses during driving. These seams had to be peened in accordance with the customer’s specifications . An automated airblast machine, type ST4, based on Wheelabrator’s Module8 concept was used which had been designed together with the customer for this special application.
“We had two basic requirements for this project”, said Eladio Vázquez Porral, Project Manager of Benteler in Vigo. “The first was a very accurate treatment of the welding seams as well as the reproducibility of the peening result to very narrow tolerances”.
Bernhard Bußkamp, Wheelabrator’s General Manager of the Airblast Technology Centre Germany : “We created a very sophisticated robot programme to maintain the distance and blast angle, simultaneously providing a complex course tracking at high speed”.
Furthermore Wheelabrator had to ensure that there was minimum downtime due to the machine having to operate at 3 shifts of 8 hours per day. To do this the sophisticated programming allowed the reduction of stress to the part and kept wear to a minimum by avoiding blasting other parts in the process - and this was without the usual masking of the part holder. Further measures led to a wear reduction on components such as robot membrane seal and hose, so that low maintenance and inspection times are required which contributes to an increased cost efficiency.
Many advantages gained with a special part holder
The solution for Benteler included a specifically developed part holder which provides several advantages. First, there is the free flow of blast media to the part which is peened without depositing media in recesses or cavities. This is assured by exactly calculating the special assembly of the components. The result is that the inside of the part is free from blast media after blasting.
Another advantage is the ease with which the part is manually loaded on the blasting table. The table is set at an optimal height, and the specially developed holders mean that no time is wasted: the part is only laterally plugged in two arms. The flexible design of the holder also means that Benteler could easily automate the loading process in the future, if required.
Besides its high quality, the sophisticated blast system provides another positive aspect to Benteler: due to the exact blasting process only a relatively small quantity of blast media is used. In addition to the blast media saving this also means that a relatively small quantity of compressed air is necessary for the process which is an additional cost saving.
Working in Partnership
The intensive project work took place in dialogue between the Wheelabrator Technology Centre in Metelen and Benteler’s technical Project Management in Paderborn, in coordination with the Wheelabrator Service Centre in Barcelona and the Benteler factory in Vigo.
Eladio Vázquez Porral stated: “A deciding factor for the cooperation with Wheelabrator was the fact that a Wheelabrator Service Centre in Spain will be available for the whole life cycle of the machine. This facilitates and shortens the lines of communication.”
Wheelabrator aims to be where the customer is to deliver the best service. This is carried out by Service Centres all around the world.