SKF spindle services saves Jiangxi Changhe Suzuki factory around 30% costs per year

2012 May 01, 07:49 CET

The machining operations at the Changhe Suzuki joint venture engine factory in Jiangxi province in China are critical to the performance of their cars. Their cars have a strong image as one of the most favourite China-made, small, eco-friendly family cars. And, critical to the machining operations are its spindles. Senior factory management report on receiving outstanding servicing speed and longer spindle life from SKF ….and with a cost saving of around 30% compared to previous procedures.

Changhe Suzuki cars are one of the best known small family cars in China for fuel economy. Their 1.4 and 1.6 litre engine vehicles consume as little as 4 – 5.8 litres of fuel for every 100 km.  They are so well known for this eco-feature that many Chinese families select these vehicles, as do many taxi companies across the country.

The key to the fuel economy lies in the small size, light but strong construction, and of course, most importantly, the engine design and performance.  At the Jiangxi factory cars are assembled but it is also the main manufacturing plant for their engines, where around 150,000 engines/year are produced.

Our engines are the heart of our eco-reputation

Mr. Yu Zhen Guo, Deputy Factory Director at the plant, says “I have no doubt that the engine is the most important factor in our fuel economy reputation and we take great care that once the design is done, we put full focus on manufacturing excellence to produce high quality engines that deliver the eco-performance our customers want’

With over 150 production machines, including 11 multi-axis machining centres; the most important machines for producing the engines, Mr Yu’s engineering staff are keen to maintain high productivity and high machining quality. “It is very clear to us’ said Mr. Wu Zhi Chao, Director of Engineering, ‘that to meet these two goals we must have machining spindles that are reliable, accurate and are quickly brought back to ‘design specification’ when they go for servicing as part of planned maintenance’.

“Initially we had our spindles reconditioned by the OEM spindle supplier”, said Wu. ‘But we were not so happy with the overall response and the price/service level, so we decided to look for a long term solution that would deliver more value to us. We checked various sources; other engine makers and also manufacturers outside the auto industry, and heard very many good recommendations for SKF spindle services”.

Evaluating the opportunity
Mr. Yu visited the SKF Solution Factory in Shanghai, one of the two locations in China where SKF spindle reconditioning is carried out, and saw for himself the way spindles from many different manufacturers were being carefully reconditioned. “ I was impressed with the whole range of equipment and test machines and the skills of the engineers. So we sent one spindle for reconditioning We received it back very quickly and put it back in the machine, with the pleasant result that it lasted much longer than the previous OEM repaired spindle.  And so we signed an annual long term contract for SKF spindle services.”

Continuing the relationship
Both Mr Yu and Mr Wu are still very happy with the working relationship. “We only have to call SKF, at any time and for any reason and someone comes directly to our factory with an attitude of ‘here to help’. And when they arrive they help even if we ask for advice on changing an O ring locally, or assisting with a broken electric motor and sending it to Shanghai for repair, which incidentally they do very quickly !! “

Mr Yu recalls one particular time when the factory went through a very difficult time. “We had a short period a few years ago when, for just a few weeks, we had a spindle burn out almost every week. Spindles were broken, chips of metal were all inside the machining centres….it was awful! The SKF engineers were very helpful during that time and actually helped to identify the problem as failed seals inside the machines. Without the SKF help the problem would have continued longer and our productivity would have suffered more, along with additional costs for more and more spindle repairs. Their assistance at that time was invaluable !”

Exceptional knowledge sharing from SKF
“Still today we consider the knowledge sharing from SKF to be exceptional, from the smallest suggestion to the detailed repair reports, and very high level formal training that is very important to our employees. We are finding that our employees are now able to be proactive in identifying when spindle repairs might be needed, rather than as it was in the past when they were reactive, and only able to respond when we had real production problems as a result of an over-worn or damaged spindle.”

“Another thing we like about the SKF relationship is the contribution to our company goals of improving our manufacturing excellence and continuous improvement. They do this with their technical and engineering knowledge and new concepts like the ‘Spindle Hotel’, which only SKF seem to have. This is an SKF concept where we store one or more spare spindles at their Solution Factory for however long we like. SKF stores them in temperature controlled, dust-free, conditions so that they can be put into machines whenever needed and perform to the high accuracies we demand. SKF runs the spindles lightly every 3 months to ensure good lubrication and spindle running accuracy to our specifications. If left for too long with no temperature control and other proper storage conditions, the spindle would be out of specification and, in a worst case scenario, would require light repair that would delay the speed at which we could put them back into production. And that would mean quite some loss of production and increase our costs”.

SKF spindle reconditioning; high quality and wide scope
SKF’s spindle reconditioning service involves 11 structured steps from registration of the spindle and incoming inspection, to a quotation for the work needed to return the spindle to near original specification, to repair, final check and delivery……..and sometimes even a 12th step of replacing the spindle in the customer’s machining centres, as has been done at Changhe Suzuki very often since the first test spindle was returned.

At SKF’s Solution factories spindles of many types and sizes, from many different manufacturer’s can be repaired. This was another feature that appealed to Mr.Yu and Mr. Wu, “we have different spindle types at our factory and it was good to see that SKF could repair almost any type of spindle with very high levels of quality. Their knowledge of the OEM machines also helps us because they can dismount and re-install the spindles in our machines without any needed assistance. That is another speed, time and resource saving for us!!

For further information, please contact:
Colin Roberts
SKF Group Technical Press

SKF is a leading global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services which include technical support, maintenance and reliability services, engineering consulting and training. SKF is represented in more than 130 countries and has around 15,000 distributor locations worldwide. Annual sales in 2011 were SEK 66,216 million and the number of employees was 46,039.

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