In the centre of 'motorsport valley', one of the leading names in race engine technology has just installed a Matsuura automated machining cell. MTD went along to the home of Cosworth in Northampton to take a look..
The first phase of the automation project involved the installation of four Matsuura machine tools as Mr Simon Burrow, the Commercial Manager at Matsuura Machinery tells us: 'The first phase includes three 4-axis machines that are combined with a 5-axis machine with an automation system with compatible pallets than can all be interchanged. The whole package has been set-up to work with a Fastems FMS system that is combined with a tool gantry system to deliver tools to the machines. On top of that, we have an ABB robot system to finish the secondary ancillary operations.'
The machines installed are three H+630 and a MAM72-100H, which all utilise 630mm pallets. These machines are interconnected with the Fastems system that schedules and delivers the workload to the machines. The Matsuura cell is used to produce heads, CAM covers, engine blocks and much more. 'The process has been built around making a wide range of engine components. Cosworth wanted this cell with the aim of not being a volume engine manufacturer. They specialise in niche high-performance low volume engine production. The Cosworth model is to build specialised engines in quantities in the region of 1000 per year to the global OEM market. The challenge is not to produce tens of thousands of engines in a series run, but maybe 18,000 engine components in batches of 1,' continues Mr Burrow.
An astounding piece of engineering technology, the automation system also incorporates a Fastems CTS tooling system that stores hundreds of tools and delivers them to the correct machine, as and when it is required. Having tools stored in each machine would be prohibitive, with the Fastems CTS system, the machines can share tools.
Mr Burrow continues: 'Whilst the aim is to completely eliminate downtime, in practice this isn't always possible. So, our aim is to maximise spindle utilisation. The principles of automation are always scalable, so Matsuura can develop an automated solution for SME businesses.'
As Cosworth moves forward, the aim will be to another 7 machines onto the rear end of the Fastems system as new work arrives. 'The surprising element is that the initial plans are being brought forward. Cosworth have been successful in securing enough business to fill an additional seven machines potentially 18 months ahead of what we expected.'