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INCA GEOMETRIC DEVELOPS AUTOMATED ENGINE PISTON AND



A breakthrough in the automation of the normal process that involves the manual insertion of the piston, piston rings and connecting rod sub-assembly into the block of automotive engines has been conceived by special purpose machine tool builder Inca Geometric.

The patented on-line build concept, which will allow a four cylinder engine to be fitted with its piston assembly within 22 seconds has been designed at the Chartham, near Canterbury facility of Inca. The process not only eliminates the manual task but also overcomes any problems associated with scuffing of the piston skirt and bore or damage to the lower edge of the oil control ring as it is inserted into the block. Any damage or marking cannot be detected during the current assembly and any subsequent test process being used and as a result, can lead to premature engine wear and excessive oil consumption.

Said Inca Managing Director Michael Cain: “We become aware of the problem when re-engineering and installing workhandling equipment in the engine assembly bay of a leading automotive company. This led to subsequent discussions over warranty claims once engines with piston ring problems are in the field.”

He explained that being a manual assembly task inconsistency, due to ‘line fatigue’ can also become a problem but with the nature of the operation which uses several operatives on the line, this has until now become the most viable method of maintaining the line build speed.

Normally the line assembly involves each piston with its pre-assembled rings and fitment to the connecting rod being pushed into each bore of the engine block. The insertion process of the rings and piston sub-assembly into the top of each bore forces the rings to compress into each piston groove. As a result, this action can cause damage or chipping to the bottom edge of the hardened oil control ring or scuff the skirt of the piston and as this damage cannot be detected once assembled, rapidly leads to excessive oil consumption in the vehicle.

The three-stage development of the Inca system initially checks and confirms using laser technology that all rings are in position. A dedicated gripper system then contacts the circumference and compresses all the rings into the appropriate piston groove prior to insertion. Through force monitoring, each ring is checked and maintained in the groove as the piston and connecting rod is automatically individually aligned and centrally pressed into the bore of the block which eliminates any scuffing of piston skirt, its rings or coatings.

The assembly machine is self-contained and compact and is able to be installed within the area of the existing assembly line or incorporated into a dedicated assembly cell. While the initial concept is for four-cylinder engines the modular design of the system enables the concept to be extended to cover other multi-cylinder configurations and engine capacities.
< back Date Posted:7/23/2013
   

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