VCST Mexico embraces the future
1 July, 2020
Change is all around us, it allows us to progress not just as humans but also as a company. In these modern times, electrification is rife, in car manufacturing as well. As a company, we are obviously enthusiastic about using our expertise in this new trend as well. In many of our plants, we are already taking on electrification projects, such as the development of our new EV transmission. At our plant in Mexico, our colleagues are about to begin Project Edison, the first electrification project for VCST Mexico.
The first electrification project for VCST Mexico is immediately a very important one. Not just because of the large volumes that will be required, but also because of its running time, at least until 2026. So what will we be making exactly for this project? Contrary to different projects, this time we will make only one part number: a gear with a double pinion (two gears consolidated into one part). The direct customer uses the double pinion as part of a transmission system. They will add an electric motor to create a complete drive unit for a car. The end customer will then be using this drive unit (with our double pinion) in multiple models built in Mexico.
A new way of working with new challenges
Every new project brings with it new challenges for us to overcome and project Edison is no different. Indeed, because this is our first electrification project in Mexico, we had to make changes to our ways of working. A first challenge comes in the cutting method. The gears we produce for this project will have to be produced in one piece with such geometrical restrictions that will make it impossible for them to get their teeth cut by means of hobbing, the typical tooth cutting operation we have a lot of experience with. Instead, we will have to use a technique called skiving. This is an all new technology for VCST and therefore it required us to update our knowledge of it. We are adamant to take these sort of measures to keep optimising our own processes so that we can become an even closer partner to our customers. After all, it is great for them to be able to rely on a fully capable and reliable service provider.
Next, for the first time ever and by request of the end customer, we will implement full traceability whereas in the past, batch traceability was our standard practice and used for all the gears. The new traceability method starts with individual data matrix codes applied by the forging supplier. We then have to scan the gears one by one upon arrival in our plant as well as before and after heat treatment. Then, a final scan is done upon final inspection by us. The data is saved at each time for each separate gear. This traceability system comes in addition to our own rigorous safety protocols. These have ensured that we have never received any heat treatment complaints in the past.
Another challenge with this new project lies in the final operation of the gears. Normally, we would grind the gears’ teeth, a technique we have a vast amount of experience with, but that is not possible in this case. Again, the same geometrical restrictions meant we had to use a technique called gear honing, a technique for which we already built up experience from projects running in Romania and Belgium for a few years now.
Revelling the new challenges
The challenges that come with project Edison are fairly big as they require us to change our ways of working. Nevertheless, there is great excitement among everyone in our Mexico plant as new challenges and changes are part and parcel of working with us. New projects and technologies are always enticing and exciting to our colleagues as it presents them with new opportunities to confirm our reputation as a first-class global gear manufacturer and service provider. Electrification will become an important aspect of the future and we are ready to play an important part in it!