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Engineering a solution against manufacturing downtime

At a glance

  • Hold-up on production line was costing a leading car manufacturer thousands of pounds an hour in unforeseen downtime
  • Zurich Engineering was able to step in and offer unique and safe solution to problem whilst replacement part was ordered
  • Demonstrating the depth and breadth of Zurich’s expertise and experience

Plant and machinery can be essential cogs for many businesses and breakages can hit companies hard, not just in replacement costs but also in unforeseen downtime.

For instance, a leading car manufacturer was left driven to distraction by an unusual engineering problem until Zurich was able to step in and offer a unique solution to a hold-up on the production line that was costing thousands of pounds an hour.

The car manufacturer had detected a crack in a clutch plate on one of its primary presses and the problem was threatening to hold up production for several weeks and cost thousands of pounds per hour until a replacement part could arrive.

The press manufacturer advised that it could not approve a repair as it had no control of the process, although the firm didn’t say that it could not be repaired. Desperate to explore all avenues and continue production, the car manufacturer contacted Zurich Engineering.

Stopgap solution

Upon examining the part and conducting non-destructive testing, Zurich Engineering confirmed the extent of the cracking. Although the clutch plate was a relatively complex steel casting, Zurich came to the conclusion that a repair was a technically sound procedure given that it was a temporary measure.

The car manufacturer suggested a repairer and Zurich was happy to supervise the repair to ensure it was conducted in accordance with the approved procedure.

The repair was successful and the customer began operating the machinery and monitoring the repaired component in accordance with a bespoke plan Zurich had developed for them.

It demonstrates the depth and breadth of our expertise and experience, and how we work effectively and quickly together to provide a much-needed solution for the customer

John McMullen, Chief Engineer at Zurich Engineering

Bespoke assessment

“We demonstrated our expertise, and how we work effectively and quickly together to provide a much-needed solution for the customer,” said John McMullen, Chief Engineer at Zurich Engineering.

“Not all inspectors would have approved this type of repair, as they followed the mantra that you do not do weld repairs on presses and whilst this is true for those components subject to heavy shock loads like keys and crankshafts, the steel plate in a friction clutch is not liable to the same loads.

“And in any event, we did a risk assessment taking into account that the clutch/brake unit was fully guarded so there was no risk of flying parts if it did break up. In addition, we considered that the press was robot fed, so there was no risk of injury to workers.”

Zurich also returned each month to examine the repair, which had to last three months until the replacement part arrived, to re-examine the press and ensure that it was operating as safely as possible.

For more information, visit Zurich Engineering.

Image © Getty

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