Visteon commissioned Mechatronics to assist with producing two new fuel pumps.

Mechatronics Engineering Corp. (Sterling Heights, MI) builds machines and test equipment for assembling different automotive component parts, including fuel-related hardware.

In June 2000, Visteon Corp. (Dearborn, MI), an automotive parts supplier, commissioned Mechatronics to assist with producing two stator-type fuel pumps. "What the client wanted was a complete package-the design of the product and the design of a prototype assembly line," says Anton Matye, president of Mechatronics.

To prove the product's performance, as well as the viability of the assembly operations, lean cell technology was used. This included using light, portable stations, one for each assembly operation, that could assemble and produce the prototypes and even preproduction fuel pumps.

"On this occasion, it helped a great deal that we could have a hand in the design of the product, not just the assembly," says Ron Fogg, chief engineer at Mechatronics. "We could design the pumps with efficient assembly in mind from the start."

Mechatronics built one lean cell for each pump and incorporated Schmidt Feintechnik Corp. (Cranberry Township, PA) presses into both. A number of factors led to this decision. Schmidt presses offered the accuracy required. For the fuel pumps, exact positioning during press-fitting of some components is critical. The parts had to be assembled within a tolerance of 0.0002 inch. Schmidt also offered flexibility in terms of model range and tooling portability, but above all, Schmidt saved Visteon time and money. "Right now, our client has a lean cell in its plant for a similar product. As best as we know, this cell had a machine cost of $2.5 million. The equivalent lean cell from us using the Schmidt presses was about $500,000. That's a $2 million savings per cell," says Matye.

Each lean cell consists of 12 stations. A panel at each station contains a detailed graphic explanation of that station's operation, including machine settings, loading and positioning of the components to be assembled, unloading of the assembly and quality criteria to ensure a good part. "There are staking, crimping and measuring stations that we had to design from scratch," says Fogg, "but the six stations that are pressing operations use a variety of Schmidt hand and hydropneumatic presses. This is where the savings are. All we had to do is pick a model with the right force and travel, and then make the tooling."

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