Delcam helps DELPHI reverse out-sourcing trend with shop-floor programming
While most automotive companies seem to be completely focused on out-sourcing as many of their manufacturing operations as possible, DELPHI, a world leader in automotive electronics and systems technology, has successfully moved some of its mouldmaking operations back in-house. Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software, new machining centres from Makino and innovative people have transitioned to both high-speed machining and shop-floor programming in the company’s Flint, MI "29 Mold Build Toolroom”. These changes have proved critical in meeting the cost and delivery time objectives of the transfer of work.
The 29 Mold Build Toolroom has an impressive range of Makino milling machines. These include two V55s, one with a spindle speed of 30,000 rpm and the other offering 20,000 rpm; two horizontal machining centres, an A55 also capable of 30,000 rpm and a larger Le Blond 1513; two S33s with 13,000 rpm and two SNC64s for graphite machining that run at 30,000 rpm within an enclosed dust collection system. In addition, the unit has a HAAS VF-2 and two Hurco VMX50 machines that are used mainly for detail machining.
The same people that operate these machines, using eight seats of the Delcam software, produce the programs for them. "As machine operators, we understand the elements necessary to produce high quality mould inserts,” explains Jeff Johns, a CNC Machinist/CAM Programmer, who is responsible for high speed machining mould insert sets. "The combination of our practical experience, the Makino machines and the Delcam software gives us consistently excellent results. By giving us, as machinists, the ability to program exactly as needed, we have seen huge reductions in the amount of air-cutting time and in the number of tool breakages.”
"In addition, we haven’t had a software gouge using PowerMILL software,” adds Rob Bergeron a CNC Machinist/Cam Programmer. "This is becoming increasingly important because, in more and more applications, no weld marks are allowed on the tool surface. One gouge can mean the mould insert would have to be re-machined.”
"The main benefit of the Delcam software has been the short learning curve,” explains Bill Jordan, a CNC Machinist/Cam Programmer. "A competent machinist who knows the machine controller can produce valid CAM programs within two weeks. Each new release fits the needs of our programmers, and their success following upgrades, leads them to believe the software is thoroughly tested before release.”
Operating as an in-house build shop puts even more pressure on the internal DELPHI team than is placed on external suppliers. They must match the lowest quote from outside the company and complete delivery in a maximum of eight to twelve weeks. Despite these challenges, the volume of tooling completed has grown steadily since the unit was established in 2002. By the end of last year, DELPHI’s 29 Mold Build Toolroom was averaging 18 moulds in process at any time.
Competition keeps the area continuously focused on process improvements. The toolroom is utilising unattended machining to further increase productivity and intends to completely remove hand finishing of the moulds. "The finish from the 30,000 rpm machines is unbelievably smooth,” Mr. Bergeron explained. "We are already close to the stage where we can take moulds straight from the machining centres and onto the moulding press.”
The tooling completed so far has been mainly for electro/mechanical applications, including the housings for air cleaners and instrument clusters, and enclosures for fuel level senders. Moulds have also been produced for DELPHI’s novel Passenger Occupancy Detection System – PODS. This system detects whether an adult or child is in the passenger seat and determines air-bag deployment accordingly in an accident.
"We know we are going against recent practice by bringing work in-house,” admits Bill Jordan. "However, high-speed machining on the Makino machines and shop-floor programming with PowerMILL enable us to meet the necessary cost, quality and delivery requirements to most often exceed our customers’ expectations.”
DELPHI is a world leader in mobile electronics and transportation components and systems technology. Multi-national DELPHI conducts its business operations through various subsidiaries and has headquarters in Michigan, Paris, Tokyo and São Paulo, Brazil. DELPHI’s two business sectors – Dynamics, Propulsion, Thermal & Interior Sector and Electrical, Electronic &, Safety Sector – provide comprehensive product solutions to complex customer needs. DELPHI has approximately 186,000 employees and operates 172 wholly owned manufacturing sites, 42 joint ventures, 53 customer centers and sales offices and 34 technical centers in 41 countries.