Thursday 20 March 2014

. . . As JLR invests £45m in Aida press line

JaguarLandRover (JLR) has invested £45million in a new state-of-the-art Japanese Aida servo press line at its Halewood Operations, near Liverpool.

The new servo stamping line, the first of its kind to be built in the UK, is 13m tall and over 85m long. It has a combined press stamping capacity of 7,900 tonnes, making it the fastest and one of the biggest and most powerful press lines across JLR, stamping both steel and aluminum panels.

The decision to adopt a Japanese press line at Halewood is an interesting development for the UK luxury vehicle builder. It is the first major press line purchased by the company’s engineers since the company became part of Tata Motors. Hitherto, under the ownership of Ford Motor Company, Jaguar purchased a press line from Schuler in Germany for the Jaguar Castle Bromwich plant, while BMW purchased a Muller-Weingarten press line for the Solihull facility aimed originally at sourcing panels for Mini.

Installing this large facility required a major reconfiguration of the Halewood press shop, with the plant roof raised by almost 12m to accommodate the new machinery. The press shop bay also had to have its footprint extended by almost 50%, compared to the previous stamping machine.

At the end of this month, Aida, the premier global manufacturer of metal stamping presses, will complete the finishing-touches to the installation. The company, founded as Aida iron Works in 1917 and which introduced the first Japanese transfer press in 1960, has an operation in the UK (Aida S.r.l. UK) based in Derby.

Trial pressings begin next month (April) and the facility will process stamping panels for use across JLR from the summer. And by the autumn it is expected the facility will be up to full speed making up to 20 strikes per minute.

This servo press is the first of its type to be used by JLR. Compared to the more mechanical operation of the existing Halewood presses, the direct drive servo system can handle higher tonnages in addition to working at higher speeds, allowing Halewood to increase the volume of stamped parts for use across JLR. The new line also uses less power and incorporates an energy recovery system that captures energy from the draw action and converts it into electricity.

The design of the Aida press also allows for faster die changes (the metal moulds that form the panel shapes). Changes can be achieved in less than five minutes, compared to up to 55 minutes for the largest existing mechanical Halewood press line. This will improve the flexibility of the press shop, increase stamping capacity, increase speed and volume of panels that can be produced daily at Halewood.

The new press line will speed up the delivery of the required volume of pressed parts produced at Halewood. This will help to feed the body shops across JLR which are working around the clock to meet increasing global demand for the company’s vehicles.

The Halewood operation manufactures the Land Rover Freelander 2 and the Range Rover Evoque. Feelander is coming to an end in due coarse and the company will soon be building the new ‘baby Jag’. The plant is operating at full capacity, 24 hours-a-day, for the first time in its 50 year history. More than £230 million has been invested in Halewood since 2011 and JLR has invested more than £3 billion in UK supply contracts linked with Evoque production. The workforce has trebled in the past three years to 4,500 and over 2,200 employees have completed Apprenticeships in the past two years.

                                                 Facts & Figures

● Halewood’s press shop is one of the largest stamping floors in the UK, covering a 30,000m2 area
● The press shop includes 10 fully automated press lines, with tonnage capacity from 600 to 1000 tonnes, stamping both steel and aluminum parts.
● Around 700 panels are produced every hour, 25 million every year
● 18 million hits – steel stamped per year, plus almost 1 million aluminum hits
● 60% of Halewood stamping production is for Halewood with the remainder going to Castle Bromwich and Solihull for other vehicles in the Jaguar Land Rover line-up
● 80% of Jaguar Land Rover total stamping volume is produced at Halewood
● 234 Die sets (the mould for the panels)
● The Press shop operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week on a four-shift system.

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