SoftNoze Application Review/Client Success Story

Industry Snapshot:  Automotive
Designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells motor vehicles, towed vehicles, motorcycles and mopeds; one of the world's most important economic sectors by revenue.

Client:  Major Car Manufacturing Plant
Leading Asian multi-national corporation, manufacturing automobiles, trucks and other transportation equipment; who is also a long-term client of SoftNoze USA (NY, USA).

Location:  Guangzhou, China
Guangzhou is the main manufacturing hub of the Pearl River Delta, and one of mainland China's leading commercial and manufacturing Regions.

Application:  Engine Block Machining Center
Large castings are transferred into a machining cell, transfer conveyor cogs bring engine block into position under machine tool head (Top Photo). Cutters perform boring operation of each cylinders, after M30x1.5 inductive proximity sensor confirms casted engine block is correctly aligned.

Quick Take-away:  Castings variations, normal wear and tear of machinery components, in addition to varied operating conditions, caused regular damage to inductive sensors (Middle Photo). Sensor damage and related downtime costs, idle machinery and workforce, and uneven throughput created scheduling delays leading to poor cell performance. Installing SoftNoze Cushioned Sensor Mounts (Bottom Photo) quickly eliminated sensor damage, productivity losses and all associated MRO costs.

Problem:  Vehicle manufacturing requires significant levels of machinery automation and uses a great number of proximity sensors. Sensors control processes keeping machining cells at full capacity. But automobile factories present very harsh conditions for sensors, and with an annual production capacity of 240,000 vehicles, avoiding downtime is critical. This success story takes place in the engine production area, where engine blocks travel between multiple machining cells. Cast-aluminum engine blocks undergo various machine operations in preparation for their assembly into a final working engine. One step requires each cylinder bore of the block to be bored (Top Photo). Before the boring head can lower, and machining sequence started, an Engine Block Ready signal is required. Without that signal the control system prevents the line form functioning. The signaling task was being accomplished by a 30mm inductive proximity sensor. When newly commissioned, production was likely very smooth. However, as machinery undergoes hundreds of thousands of operating cycles, large forces, and everyday wear and tear, things deteriorate. This was the client's situation as shown in the Middle Photo, witness the bent mounting bracket. As a result eventually the 30mm proximity sensor was being struck by engine blocks not always stopping at the correct point. Heavy engine blocks were colliding with the inductive proximity sensor that was designed to be a long-lasting, non-contact, device. With the sensor getting damaged the machine was shutting down and even a few blocks were getting damaged due to a misaligned boring head.

Solution:  Within moments of hearing about the client's sensor problems, not only did SoftNoze know the answer, but so too did the engine production shop foreman. It’s really a simple concept and that is why the good news was quickly understood quickly and produced a purchase order for SoftNoze. In fact, over the past 22 years, the clever devices called the SoftNoze Cushioned Sensor Mounts have saved every global car manufacturer hundreds of thousands (and perhaps many millions) of dollars in avoided downtime expenses. This is done as shown in Bottom Photo. The original, fixed, angle brackets were removed and replaced by the solution whereby proximity sensors were mounted with a block-style holder containing springs. The spring-return mount protects the proximity sensors so they avoid damage when accidental collision occurs. These brackets are just the thing when you're up against it.

Results:  SoftNoze technology allows sensors in difficult manufacturing areas to safely absorb and deflect damage. In both cases, smart design saved money and headaches. And in the case of this client automobile factory, productivity and profitability increased and costs were eliminated- which is highly important in China's fast-growing and increasingly competitive manufacturing environment.

MAPP ™ = Mount | Apply | Position | Protect.

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