Focus on large volumes: Linamar Hungary relies on production solutions from EMAG for e-mobility
High precision and rapidly growing quantities – the current success of electromobility is a challenge for production planners. The example of the supplier Linamar Technology Hungary shows how this task can be solved effectively. The specialists for e-drives have currently invested in machines from EMAG, which are used to produce shafts and gears. The number of components is expected to increase to more than 2,000,000 pieces per year in the future – up from around 300,000 pieces at present. The new production solution is optimally prepared for this increase.
E-mobility is currently approaching at top speed: According to the European manufacturers' association ACEA, the market share of electric cars in new registrations in the EU has recently more than doubled. It rose from 3.5 percent in the first quarter of 2021 to 7.5 percent in the second quarter. Conversely, this also means that the unit numbers for the various e-drive components are increasing – and this is precisely where the expertise of specialists like Linamar comes into play. The globally operating company produces a large portfolio of components related to power generation and storage, electric drive systems and structural and chassis systems for e-vehicles. Engineering and manufacturing know-how make Linamar a market leader here in terms of quality, system integration and time to market.
One of Linamar's central production sites for electric mobility is its subsidiary Linamar Technology Hungary. The specialists based in Békéscsaba manufacture and assemble, among other things, transmission components as well as aluminum housings and covers for a new e-car platform that has been on the market since last year. On board: various machines from EMAG. The decision in favor of the technology from the southern German machine manufacturer was made on the basis of intensive market research. "In the end, we chose EMAG because the company offers and masters a wide range of technologies," explains István Bíró, Project leader at Linamar Technology Hungary. "In addition, EMAG develops innovative solutions that help us streamline our production processes."
Shortening grinding processes
Specifically, Linamar Technology Hungary uses the VL 6 and VT 2-4 vertical lathes and the VLC 200 GT vertical turning and grinding center for hard machining of gears and shafts. The company also has the ELC 160 laser welding machine for welding gear wheels. The example of the VLC 200 GT turning and grinding center is an ideal illustration of the advantages of EMAG's holistic approach: the machine is loaded at a particularly high speed by the integrated pick-up spindle. After the spindle with the component has assumed its machining position, hard rough turning starts in quick succession. Only a residual allowance of a few micrometers then remains on the gear wheel. This ensures a significantly shortened grinding process with the aid of the integrated grinding spindle. At the same time, the machining quality benefits from the turning-grinding combination: If only a small allowance needs to be ground off after turning, the grinding wheel specification can be more specifically designed for the desired final quality. Overall, Linamar's production planners can therefore dispense with a further grinding operation.
Fast chip-to-chip times
Linamar has seen similar leaps in productivity with its VL 6 and VT 2-4 lathes, which are used for turning operations on gears and shafts of different sizes. Depending on the size and type of component, the machining task differs. For example, the VT 2-4 automated vertical lathe provides leaps in performance for shaft machining, removing a hardened layer in the weld area. The strength of this system is particularly evident with higher quantities, because its automation solution ensures fast chip-to-chip times: workpiece grippers are used to transport the unmachined parts into the machine and remove them again after machining. Depending on the workpiece, this changeover time takes only six to eight seconds. In high-volume production, these short non-productive times add up to enormous time savings. The actual turning process also takes place in short cycles: The shaft is clamped vertically between the main spindle and the tailstock and machined from two sides. Two tool turrets with twelve places each are available for this purpose, which can be equipped with turning tools or driven tools.
The Vertical Lathe VL 6 is again used for machining several areas on gears with diameters of over 200 millimeters. The components are also part of an electric drive system. Their function is to reduce the high speed of the electric motor to the lower level of wheel rotation. The VL 6 used here is being developed by EMAG for larger workpieces, and the machine also has integrated automation. It is equipped with a workpiece storage conveyor and loads/unloads via pick-up spindle. What has Linamar's experience been with the various machines? "We are currently in the start-up phase and produce around 60,000 parts per type per year. In the future, however, we will produce around 430,000 parts per type per year," explains István Bíró. "In this respect, it is important for us that the machines ensure a stable process. This is absolutely the case. In addition, we have not yet completely exhausted the potential of the machines at present. For example, we can reduce the measuring effort if we use the integrated measuring probes. Overall, we are very satisfied with the solution."
An interview with István Bíró, Project leader at Linamar Technology Hungary, about the new solution at the site in Békécsaba.