When Porsche AG (Stuttgart, Germany) was planning and designing its new engine assembly plant, the company initially counted on the skills of its own internal production machinery department. This department, however, had to compete with external offers.

A total of 24 workers are employed on two lines assembling the engines for the 911 and Boxster models. The lines are now over 15 years old. In 1993, the company began revamping the assembly lines and adapting them to the technical requirements of modern assembly methods. This enabled the company to almost double the numbers of engines produced per day.

An additional assembly line has also come into being at this facility. This line assembles Turbo, GT3 and Cup engines. However, when plans were being devised for this new assembly line, the company took the opportunity to design an innovative assembly line. The internal production machinery department got the nod to turn the designs into reality. But the department needed a partner with the skills to convert the innovative construction plans into an efficient assembly line.

Project plans required visually attractive, yet versatile, structural framing components. The components also needed to be extremely sturdy with excellent compatibility and close tolerances. The department chose Item Industrietechnik und Maschinenbau GmbH (Solingen, Germany) for its experience in special-purpose engineering and its MB Building Kit. The MB Building Kit consists of aluminum profiles, fasteners and functional elements.

There are 12 stations on the new assembly line. Each engine weighs 652 pounds. The trolleys that transport the engines weigh 441 pounds. The base construction must cope with a total weight of 11 tons. The components that comprise the machine base are profiles that have been reinforced with tie rods. A steel guide rail runs around the machine base and is anchored to it. The engine trolleys are mounted to this. Although the assembly line has to support heavy, moving loads, aluminum profiles prevent the construction from looking heavy and ungainly.

Both the engine and commissioning trolleys are suspended and travel with the line. Engine trolley height can be adjusted at any time and point. This allows workers to select the most comfortable working position. The engine can also rotate in 45-degree steps, allowing work from the most accessible point. Computer numerical control allows for individual engine position programming.

This assembly line now manufactures 25 engines per day at an average line speed of 0.5 fpm. However, increasing productivity on this 65.6-foot line can easily be achieved by adding additional stations.

For more information on modular components, call Item Industrietechnik und Maschinenbau GmbH at 888-729-4500, visit www.itemamerica.com or Reply 6.