Thursday 20 March 2014

SCOOP: New press line for baby Jag

A new stamping press line, identical to the new line at JaguarLandRover’s Halewood facility will be installed in November at the company’s Castle Bromwich facility in the UK.

The new press line, by Aida Engineering S.r.l. Ltd of Derby will be identical to the Halewood line with the exception that the controls will be mounted on a mezzanine floor whereas at Halewood they are underground.

The Halewood line is the first Aida servo five-press line in Europe. A third press line will be installed at JLR in China as part of the Japanese company’s contract with the premium luxury vehicle maker. This too will be a five-press servo line.

The Aida servo press lines can process both steel and aluminium. Indeed the line at Castle Bromwich will be used almost entirely to process aluminium sheet. Almost certainly this line will produce aluminium panels for the upcoming ‘baby Jag’.

The Halewood press line will begin its work processing steel sheet but later will switch to aluminium.

The bed size of the line at Halewood is 5m x 2.5m and can easily handle a bodyside. The first dies will be supplied for the line to run on 31 March. These will be for a five-door model.

All three press lines have the same configuration: one 2,500tonne press, one 1,800tonne press and three 1,200tonne presses. These are known as straightsided presses in Aida Engineering terminology.

With a line output speed of 20 strikes per minute the line can turn out 20 bodysides a minute. On the other hand, if dies for left and right hand doors are installed then the line can produce 40 parts a minute.

With installation on the Castle Bromwich line due to begin in November it is expected work to be complete within seven months. So the line will be running early next sppring. Once the line has settled down, press line managers at Castle Bromwich will be able to compare the performance of their new Aida press line with the press line installed by Schuler that has been in operation for some years. It will be recalled that Stadco also has a Schuler press line at Fort Parkway, Castle bromwhich, which can also process aluminium bodysides.

It will be recalled that JLR sealed a joint venture with Chery Automobile in November 2012, marking what was described at the time as a £1.1 billion investment in the world’s second largest economy.

The investment includes a new manufacturing plant in Changshu, near Shanghai.

“The JV will blend together the heritage and experience of luxury premium vehicle manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover with the intricate knowledge and understanding of Chinese customers evident at Chery,” JLR said at the time.

The new press line at Chery Jaguar land Rover will be another five-press line and will be almost identical to the two lines in the UK.

The line in China is currently being installed and is about three months behind the first UK press line in terms of timing. It will start production in June or July.

Among the special features of all three lines are the inter-press handling devices. Instead of conventional robot handling Aida Engineering adopts special automation which takes the form of carbon fibre crossbars and sheet loaders. These help to speed up parts handling helping to achieve the 20 parts a minute throughput.

It is generally reckoned that the Japanese, with their known reliance on continuous improvement, are perhaps the best at producing high-speed precision press lines for the automotive industry. Aida Engineering Ltd for example was originally founded in 1917 as Aida Ironworks in Tokyo by Yokei Aida. Among automotive companies Aida was worked with is Honda.

Over the next nine decades it has concentrated on the development, manufacture, and sale of presses, and has grown into a global company with production and development facilities in Japan, Asia, the US and Europe.

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