Case Studies

Steering Plant at Ford Wins Govenor’s Award | Whirling Cuts Screw Manufacturing Time | BACK TO MACHINE TOOL APPLICATIONS

Ford’s Steering Plant Wins Governor’s Award

Ford Motor Company’s Steering Gear Plant in Indianapolis, IN is a 1.8 million square ft. manufacturing facility for the production of steering columns, gears and automotive components. Recently the Indy plant received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Pollution Prevention.

The primary production operation at the Steering Gear facility involved the rough grinding of a ball groove thread on the power steering gear worm shaft. The XLO grinders used for this operation used a 1:1 blended oil mixture for grinding wheel lubrication in the wet grinding process. The grinding created an intense heat because of the abrasive grinding friction, and the lubricated oil created a particle-laden flammable mist.

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Ford Machines at Leistritz Assembly Plant

The oil mist collector required an air emission permit and was the worst source of air pollution from the plant. Additionally, the used oil had to be treated and eventually disposed as a non-renewable resource.

Because of the heat generated in the grinding operation and the flammability of the oil mist, fire protection was required for both the grinders and the mist collector. During a six month period three fires had occurred, two involving ignition of oil vapors in the exhaust ducts and mist collector. The explosive force caused extensive damage to the mist collector and potentially endangered employees by throwing mist collector parts a distance of thirty feet.

Each fire incident also necessitated complete changeout and disposal of the lubricating oil because it became contaminated with the carbon dioxide and water used to extinguish the fires. Cleaning of the fire incident area and replacement of the lubricating oil required an average of 16 hours of non-production time after each incident.

Ford Motor Company responded not only to employee safety concerns but also to environmental concerns, with a $2,600,000 capital appropriation project, replacing six XLO grinding machines with five new CNC Whirling Machines from Leistritz.

The environmental benefits of the project affect two major areas: air pollution reduction, and waste disposal reduction. Because whirling is a dry cutting process, the use of coolant and lubricating oil, as well as, a flammable oil mist, has been eliminated, terminating particle emissions of approximately 18 tons per year.

With that, the elimination of oil waste disposal was reduced by about 50,000 gallons of used oil per year. The change in the machining process produced less chip waste, and chips are now recycled, further reducing the annual waste disposal quantity by 75% (1,000 cubic yard reduction).

By changing this operation to Leistritz Whirling technology, a dry machining process, the risk of fire and explosive ignition of combustibles has been eliminated. In addition, the number of occupational exposures were reduced, and the safety of the workplace was greatly improved.

Installation of the five Leistritz Whirling Machines will result in operational cost savings of approximately $665,000 in the first year. Calendar year pre-tax profits are expected to increase by $400,000 in the first year of operation, and should double to over $800,000 by the fourth year after installation. The calculated payoff timeline for this project is expected to be three years and five months.

The workforce impact of this project has been most visible in improved worker morale since workplace conditions have improved and occupational safety risks have been reduced as a result of Whirling Technology.

Leistritz CNC Whirling Machines combine high productivity and superior quality with enormous cost savings, by eliminating the need to purchase and dispose of costly coolants and cutting fluids.

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Steering Plant at Ford Wins Govenor’s Award | Whirling Cuts Screw Manufacturing Time

Whirling Cuts Screw Manufacturing Time

A leading extruder manufacturer has recently purchased a Lesitritz machine for its new $1.5 million state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The Leistritz machine will manufacture feed screws utilizing the whirling and milling processes.

A producer of screws for the extrusion, injection mold and blow mold industries, faces the same time pressures today as mold makers. In order to be compatible, speed is a factor, to reduce the amount of time and man hours it takes to produce a screw.”

Leistritz Machine Cuts Feedscrew

A screw is made by selectively removing metal from the shaft. Because whirling removes much more material than traditional milling, cycle times are about three to four times faster. Whirling uses a doughnut shaped cutting tool that cuts screw flights by spinning rapidly, usually at about 1,000 RPM, around the top of the shaft. The screw also turns to expose fresh steel to the tool. The computer controlled whirling head pivots to cut angles in the screw.

Using traditional manufacturing techniques, screws has to be transferred to at least three different machines in order to become a finished part. Now using a single CNC controlled Leistritz machine, the whirling tool first roughs the screw, then a separate milling tool finishes the job in just one set-up.

It typically took 6 to 12 weeks to make a screw after receiving an order. Since the German-made machine sold by Leistritz Corporation of Allendale, NJ, began turning out screws, the company has been able to reduce its production time to 6 to 8 weeks; some priority jobs have been completed in 2 to 3 weeks! The combination of the new Leistritz whirling machine and the newly built 3,200 square foot building could cut development time more dramatically, down to 24 hours.

Whirling’s higher output and greater consistency also helped this producer win contracts to make injection molding screws for customers where price was previously too high.

What Leistritz has been able to do is integrate the CNC and CASEM software technology into the demanding process of whirling. Leistritz has always had an extremely reliable machine, but now coupled with CNC and CASEM, the process has been made very simple.