As one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, MAHLE is a globally renowned manufacturing powerhouse with over 76,000 employees and a turnover in excess of Euros €11.5 billion. With more than ten facilities in the UK, the MAHLE Powertrain manufacturing plant in Wellingborough is a state-of the-art cast iron machining facility that supplies head and block engine sets for a major UK-based construction vehicle company.
The Wellingborough factory manufactures upwards of 700 head and engine block sets every week for the world’s third largest construction equipment manufacturer. To ensure the company maintains its high production levels, MAHLE Powertrain employs 22 Heller twin-pallet machining centres than run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To minimise downtime and maximise productivity, MAHLE has invested in a partnership with cutting tool specialists Mapal.
MAHLE utilises over 170 different Mapal tool assemblies for its HSK63 and HSK100 machines. With product lines including everything from solid carbide end mills, boring tools, drills, taps, reamers, rough boring ISO tools, fine boring tools and specialist tools for crank shaft and cam shaft machining, the diversity of the Mapal brand sees over 90% of the Mahle cutting tool consumption being supplied by the Global cutting tool specialists.
The relationship between Mapal UK and MAHLE has demonstrated how a committed partnership between supplier and customer can reap significant rewards. With two full time Mapal employees based in the tool management area at Mahle, the powertrain manufacturer has all its tooling needs facilitated by the Mapal staff. Commenting upon the agreement, Mr Gavin Samwell, a MAHLE Powertrain Production Technician says: “Mapal supply the complete package, we use their tools in our machines and when the tool life expires we take the tool out, put it in a tool trolley and the Mapal engineers will come in to refurbish, re-tip and re-set the tools. Once the Mapal engineer has prepared the tool for re-use, it is returned to the machine tool carousel to be used again or it is stored in the tool management system.”
To ensure the continuous and uncompromising service levels are maximised, the two on-site Mapal tool setters are supported by an additional application engineer that will visit the site to investigate the potential for implementing creative new solutions. This strategy ensures that MAHLE is continually optimising its machining processes.
One recent example of the continuous process development was the installation of Mapal’s new Tritan drill. Marketed as a drill capable of cycle time reductions and tool life improvements in the region of 40%, this was an opportunity for the three-flute Tritan drill to prove itself in the automotive sector. The Mapal application engineer trialled the Tritan against an existing 13.16mm diameter solid carbide spiral drill. Cutting a bolt hole in the cast Iron cylinder head, the previous drill operated at 2429rpm with a feed rate of 672mm/min (100m/min at 0.28mm/rev) to achieve a tool life of 37 parts. At this point, excessive tool wear required a tool changeover. However, the new through coolant solid carbide Tritan drill exceeded the performance of the previous drill, reaching a tool life of 70 parts, a 48% improvement.
This is credit to the new Tritan drill geometry that permits higher feed and speed rates whilst enhancing hole concentricity and precision with its self-centring characteristics. Running at a cutting speed of 2204rpm with a feed rate of 1322mm/min (90m/min at 0.6mm/rev), the Tritan drill has more than doubled the feed rate to reduce cycle times by 60 seconds per cylinder head.
Referring to why the company selected Mapal as its tooling partner, Mr Samwell continues: “Mapal was the one company that offered the most comprehensive solution and service for our needs. Mapal can manufacture the tools at their UK facility and even supply products from other manufacturers where necessary to deliver a complete package.”
This complete package includes the management of inventory and costs. It ensures the MAHLE production facility is always tooled with the most productive tooling solutions available. The Mapal management system incorporates the latest technology whilst delivering continuous cost down and productivity enhancements with no procurement costs and a single invoice.
As well as having Mapal staff permanently on-site, the tool management program is completely automated. For MAHLE, this ensures that when tools are taken from the Tool Management Department the Mapal tool inventory system automatically orders new stock to ensure MAHLE are never without the right tool for the job.
As partners to MAHLE, the fully operational ‘Tool Management System’ for the Head Block and Bedplate works on a cost per piece agreement. This very close collaboration between the two companies encourages efficiency and profitability for MAHLE by using Mapal’s Unibase M services to remarkable effect.