MetLase – Digitally-led & Manufacturing Solutions
Automotive fuel tank SmartGauge
> The Customer – Kautex Unipart
> The Project – Design and manufacture an inspection fixture to reduce the processing time
The customer currently uses the New Generation Fuel System blow molding process to produce plastic fuel systems. Due to the complicated nature of this process, machines are required to run 24/7 as a high level of heat is required before production can start. As with all manufacturing processes, parts are inspected regularly to ensure they adhere to stringent quality standards. With around 49 points of data to inspect, this process can take around 40-90 minutes. To complicate this further, a number of components are enclosed within the tank. If the production line stops due to a fault, a substantial amount of scrap can occur.
A fuel tank is one of the most safety-critical components of a car. The production process produces roughly 1 plastic fuel system every 38 seconds, quality inspections can take up to 90 minutes per system. If defects are found, production would stop, but worse than this, up to 42 fuel systems have potentially become waste.
By using a range of different technologies used in multiple sectors, our MetLase Engineers offered a solution for our customer’s unique problem. Digital technology was applied to solve the manual inspection process, turning this into a digital solution that automates the inspection, providing an instant assessment of the fuel tanks.
The result, a SmartGauge which has over 50 different sensors which can inspect the fuel system instantly, reducing the inspection time from up to 90 minutes to just 4 seconds.
MetLase engineers developed this technology which includes ‘plug and play’ which integrates into the SmartGauge fixturing system which could not be done with existing technologies.
“ The gauge has been introduced to significantly reduce our in-line product inspection times, from a manual process taking 40minutes, to a digitised process taking just a few seconds. The gauge can support uninterrupted production during the inspection process, so this is a huge reduction in the risk of us continuing to produce scrap products during the inspection process. Even more importantly, the data can be collected to improve our process, reducing the chance of producing scrap product in the first place!”
Srikanth VaradarajanManager, Engineering – Kautex Unipart
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