In the transition to electric mobility, the tooling and machine-building industry will have to be revamped.26 Apr 2022 Andreas Beuthner
This is true – at the very latest – when a facility switches entirely to electrically powered model lines. At its vehicle plant in Zwickau, the Volkswagen Group completed this step successfully and significantly boosted the level of equipment automation there. According to VW, more and more processes are being automated with interlinked equipment and software, a sign of where the world is heading. The BMW Group is getting its electric-powertrain manufacturing operation in Dingolfing in shape for the production of its fifth-generation electric motors. “We are increasing the capacity for powertrains at existing production facilities – as we are doing here in Dingolfing – and we are developing more, as we have recently been doing in Regensburg and Leipzig,” said Michael Nikolaides, who is in charge of Engines and Electric Drives at BMW in Dingolfing.
The BMW Group’s plant in Steyr produces the aluminum housing for the company’s highly integrated fifth-generation electric powertrains. The auto sector is one of the most important customers for the tooling sector. The industry sees itself as a pace-setter in manufacturing and doesn’t skimp on innovative technology in light of the rising complexity of vehicle components and the growing competitive pressures. This is paying off. Last year, manufacturers of precision tools increase their sales by 12 percent over those for the previous year despite a tough environment, according to the trade association VDMA. The industry is on the right course – a path that could bring it out of its pandemic doldrums. The market for electric cars promises lucrative opportunities for growth. The design of the electric-drive units varies from one model variant to another. The trend is toward highly integrated electric-drive systems in which the electric motor, the power electronics and the transmission are installed in a single housing. This design principle requires maximum precision with error tolerances in the micrometer range and poses a challenge to tooling and machine manufacturers.
For three years, the machining company Mapal has had stator housings and other electric-drive components on the agenda. Now the company is taking another step toward complete machining: A so-called bell tool is used on cooling channels on the exterior of thin-walled stator housings. According to the company, the specially designed lightweight tool has been equipped with cutting plates and guide strips and reliably draws off shavings and auxiliary agents through large openings. The real highlight: In the same set-up, without being moved, the apparatus machines the interior of the pot-shaped housing with surface and fine-drilling tools and gives the exterior of the stator the required cooling fins. Mapal brought on Chemnitz-based equipment manufacturer Niles-Simmons as a development partner. The goal was the mechanical execution of the efficient, simultaneous processes involving both boring and turning for the large-scale production of stator housings. The specifications are shorter processing times with continually high component quality even when the work piece, the tool or both are simultaneously turning at times.
Aside from the increase in productivity from the combined processing, the machine tool manufacturer DMG Mori is staking out its own territory on the “digitalk” agenda. By working with the American software company Tulip, the international tooling company is continuing to expand its app-based control and operating system Celos. A so-called no-code platform directs activities on the shop floor using mobile smartphones with more than 90 preconfigured apps. The platform can be adapted to any application case without special programming, including access to tools such as pick-by-light, calipers, cameras or barcode scanners.
Celebrating the return of the Hannover Messe as an in-person event, AUTOMOBIL PRODUKTION 2022 delivers a special issue covering the most relevant topics in automotive manufacturing including Smart Factory, electrification and Industry 4.0. The edition features exclusive interviews with Jochen Klöcker, Chairman of the Board of Management at Deutsche Messe AG and Javier Varela, SVP Engineering and Operations at Volvo Cars, who answer the most pressing questions on the automotive industry’s future industrial landscape. Gain insights into relevant trends and learn about the strategies of the industry’s key decision-makers.
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