Cost-effective machining for automotive components from FANUC

FANUC UK Ltdvisit website


Concentric, UK manufacturer of automotive pumps, has installed three FANUC Robodrill machining centres to increase metal-cutting capacity at its manufacturing facility in Erdington, Birmingham. Since installation, the high-speed, vertical-spindle machine has proved significantly more reliable and productive than previous machining centres.

Cost-effective machining for automotive components from FANUCTwo engine manufacturers have recently awarded significant new contracts to Concentric for machining, assembling and testing oil and transmission pumps, used mainly in diesel engines that power light to medium-duty trucks and off-road plants. The newly installed FANUC Robodrills, based around a new production cell, will be dedicated to machining the aluminium pressure die castings central to this process.

The norm at Concentric is to use 40-taper, horizontal machining centres with twin pallet changers. However, a 30-taper, high-speed, vertical-spindle machine was better suited to the relatively light machining operations and was significantly more productive and competitively priced.

Mark McFall, manufacturing engineering manager, says: “We researched machines for our new oil pump cell during the last quarter of 2013. For the metal-cutting operations, we were looking for a smaller taper machine with a fixed table and a fourth axis in the form of a rotary indexer.

“We opted for Robodrills due to Fanuc’s good reputation in the market, especially for the reliability of their equipment. The Robodrill was also ideally sized in terms of its tool capacity, as our applications require 20 tools and the machine’s turret-type magazine houses 21 cutters.”

To fulfil Concentric’s customer contract, one Robodrill produces the oil pump cover and the other the pump body, with both machines operating over three shifts.

In the first machine, the covers require two separate operations and are loaded two at a time into fixtures that accept the part in both orientations. One undergoes op 1 and the other op 2 during each cycle, so a complete cover comes out of the machine for every load / unload sequence. In the second machine, two bodies are fixtured and machined completely.

Manufacture of the transmission pump

For manufacture of the transmission pump, the third Robodrill produces two different parts in two operations each over a single shift, again from aluminium pressure die castings. Eight fixtures allow two of each part, i.e. four components, to be produced per load / unload.

At the end of every cycle in all three machines, the trunnion carrying the fixtured components is programmed to come to rest at 45 degrees. It encourages swarf and coolant to fall away and minimises the need to use an air gun to clear the machining area. In addition, work is presented more ergonomically to the operators, enhancing production efficiency.

The high speed of the α-D21LiA5 Robodrills derives from an industry-leading specification that includes 1.5g acceleration to 54m/min rapids in all linear axes, up to 30m/min programmable feed rates and 1.6s tool change time, chip-to-chip. Working volume is 700 × 400 × 330mm and the machines at Concentric have been equipped with a swarf conveyor and oil mist extraction.

Mr McFall confirmed that the machines have proved reliable since installation, producing components to +/- 10microns tolerances, and that Fanuc has provided excellent programming support and training.

To learn more about FANUC Robodrill machining centres, please go to the website at

© Copyright 2006-14 The Engineering Network Ltd.