Steering system in automotives is one of the direct areas of contact between the driver and the vehicle. It is an important element to maneuver the vehicle to execute a turn or avoid obstacles. The market for steering system has been driven primarily by t
Rane TRW Steering Systems Ltd
In India, the Chennai-based Rane Group manufactures wide range of auto components except tyres. In fact a vehicle can be made with the components manufactured by the group. The company’s steering gear division, Rane TRW Steering Systems Ltd (RTSSL), a 50-50 joint venture with ZF TRW, manufactures fully integrated hydraulic steering gears, hydraulic pumps, power-rack and pinion, power steering fluid including plastic reservoirs, and supplies to major OEMs in the country.
Recently Auto Components India visited its Viralimalai plant near Trichy in Tamil Nadu to understand its production and process systems, and productivity and quality improvement methodologies. We were able see the manufacturing process, quality levels and the deep involvement from the top management to the grass root level.
The Viralimalai plant, established in 1988 as Rane Power Steering Ltd, has 2 divisions; FIG division and Valve division. FIG division manufactures hydraulic power steering systems for commercial vehicles and tractors, and the Valve division manufactures power-rack and pinion valve and supplies to its Guduvancheri plant.
In October 2005, the company bagged the prestigious Deming Prize, reputed to be one of the highest awards on TQM in the world. Employing the Japanese methodology of TQM (Total Quality Management), it roots out inefficiencies through countermeasures including ensuring quality at source, moving from inspection to assurance and building stability in the manufacturing process. The company also gives importance to the Japanese concept of mistakeproofing or poka-yoke. In the assembly line, you can see hundreds of poka-yoke.
RTSSL has different manufacturing cells based on the component lines. The lines are differentiated according to the process sequence the component carries and are separated based on the heat treatment. A lot of innovation has gone into the manufacturing process. Using alternative materials weight is reduced. The company uses Special Purpose Machines (SPMs) to manufacture different parts. SPMs are manufactured in-house in correlation with the supplier detailing requisites and the applications of the machines. SPMs are used for internal, external parts manufacturing, valve production and also for assembly operations. External parts, made up of casting, once machined will go to the inspection area. They are washed to remove contaminants and finally sent to the assembly line. Internal parts will undergo a lot of processes like steel forging, boring, mounting hole operations and finally finishing. The finishing operations in-turn goes through various stages like milling, drilling, deburring, grinding, honing and burnishing.
Internal parts of the steering system include rack piston, central shaft and worm shaft undergo for heat treatment to get the hardness trait. Post the finishing process these parts get the desired accuracy in dimensions, geometry and surface. Before heat treatment the parts have to cross 7 stages and after heat treatment 5 stages. All the processes are conveyor- driven. After these processes, the products will go for performance testing. Finally the external parts, internal parts and valves, respectively, will get fitted in the assembly lines.