ABS housings, brake calipers, main brake cylinders, valve housings, and other components made from light metals such as aluminum in mid- to high-volumes are suited for production with the AL 204 five-axis machining center from Alfing Corp. (www.alfing.com; Plymouth, MI). The top-of-the-line 204 is fitted with four individually driven box spindles. Each spindle carries HSK 63 tooling. Importantly, each has separate anti-friction ways and a new patented individual spindle compensation function that helps assure accurate machining. The spindle arrangement, with each alternately guided from top and bottom, helps reduce the amount of space ordinarily required for a four spindle machine by about half. The overall working range of the machine is 200 mm X, 400 mm Z, and 450 mm Y. There is a swiveling trunnion that provides the D- and A-axes. B-axes—up to four—are an option. The spindle motors have a maximum drive capacity of 58 kW and maximum torque of 70 Nm. Linear drives—speeds up to 180 m/min and accelerations of 20 m/s2 –and ballscrew drives—speeds up to 90 m/min and accelerations of 10 m/s2—are available. A machine with four spindles (one-, two- and three-spindle configurations are also in the AL lineup) is typically equipped with a tool magazine with 120 slots. Control is via a 160 iMB Fanuc unit or an optional Siemens Sinumerik 840 D.
Here's an overview of the study of assembly plant productivity that gets the undivided attention of all automakers: "The Harbour Report." Although the Big Three companies are getting better, they still have a way to go. But given the levels of competition, better won't be good enough for some plants, it seems.
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