While engine machining lines are typically characterized by transfer lines and dedicated equipment, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama will be making extensive use of machining centers for its block and head lines when the plant goes into production early in '05. (Photo: Cincinnati Lamb)
When the engine plant at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (Montgomery, AL) opens next year, it will be one of the most modern, flexible operations found anywhere. Engineered to produce the new Lambda 3.3-liter V6 engine that will be used in the Sonata sedan and the Santa Fe SUV, the production operation is based largely on machining centers: both the block and head lines consist primarily of horizontal machining centers from Cincinnati Lamb (Chesterfield, MI; a UNOVA Industrial Automation Systems company). The machines in question are the HPC-500TS, a 500-mm pallet machine fitted with two machining spindles, and the rugged HPC-500ZS, another 500-mm machine that's specifically built to handle even cast iron (although the Hyundai engine features an aluminum block and head). The head line features 220 adapter plates that are used to move the parts through the system. According to Edward J. Irvine, a Cincinnati Lamb account executive who is working on the project, "The plates provide a common interface to accurately locate and handle the parts throughout the entire system." He adds, "If they want to change the part at a future date, this makes it much easier for retooling." Irvine says that the 52 twin-spindle HPC-500TS machines on the Hyundai head line make it the biggest installation of any line the company has engineered. The adapter plates, or pallets, are not used on the block line. The part itself moves through the stations. While each of the adapter plates has an RFID tag on it to identify the part moving through the operations, in the case of the blocks, RFID tags are screwed into the aluminum. One of the areas where there is additional fixturing on the block line is for machining the valve seats. This is done to keep the part solidly in place so that there isn't movement that could cause a cutting tool to crack. Crankshafts for the engines are going to be produced on five CNC grinders from Landis Gardner (Waynesboro, PA; another UNOVA company). In-process automation for the line, final assembly, and hot and cold testing equipment is being supplied by Lamb's Assembly and Test operation in Rockford, IL.