Gurugram-based Paracoat Products Ltd (PCP) has been consistently focussing on reducing NVH levels across vehicles and continues to raise the bar, in terms of developing products that offer an enhanced customer experience. NVH, or the lack of it, is one of the most important factors that customers look for in a passenger vehicle nowadays. Auto Tech Review recently visited its Chopanki facility to take stock of the company’s manufacturing capabilities.
The Chopanki facility of PCP is spread across 1,00,000 sq ft and currently rolls out around 27 products that ensure better NVH levels in both passenger cars and commercial vehicles. It is important to develop and manufacture innovative products to help reduce NVH levels to offer safer mobility as the parts that are not visible aren’t easily acceptable, said Sanjay Saroff, Vice President – Operations, PCP. The facility is divided into three different segments and adopts a focussed approach for every part that is being developed.
Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) section is almost the fully automated segment of the plant, where various products for energy absorption during collisions (EPP-based bumpers fitted in front and rear bumpers), rear seats, car tool box, floor levellers, side impact protectors, headrest, among others are manufactured. PCP has installed three machines sourced from Kurtz, Germany to develop EPP products depending on the type of raw material infused, product size and volume demand. The raw material for the EPP section is imported from trusted sources of PCP in Japan, either in black or white colour according to aesthetics demand and cost effectiveness.
The machines can be programmed to conduct different operations for different hours. The foam beads (raw material) get stored in high pressure containers that are maintained at a pressure of up to three bars for the first hour and subsequently standardised at one bar pressure for the next 15 hr till the time it is pumped into the mouldings at high pressure. The machine moulds are then heated at a temperature range of 160-180 °C for a cycle time of up to three minutes depending on the parts being developed to let the raw material take the desired shape.
Water is subsequently sprayed on the moulds to cool down the parts before they are released. The moulded parts are then stacked in trays that are placed in Air Handling Units (AHU). The parts are subjected to heat of up to 70 °C for the next 18-20 hr to get rid of moisture and improvise upon material strength and durability. The products then undergo a quality check for requisite weight and size before the dispatch takes place. EPP products offer better mechanical properties, have the capacity to absorb energy on impact, high durability, reduced flammability and are easily recyclable, said Saroff. PCP has already ordered one more machine to step up production in the near future.
The demand for a comfortable and silent journey is constantly witnessing an uptick across the automotive segment. PCP has installed hydraulic press machines spread across three halls for insulation sheets for cold process moulding and separate operations using polyurethane foam and heavy layer sheets in the third section. Parts like hood insulation, sound deadeners, roof insulation, inner and outer insulation for dashboard, noise shields, and under body insulation are manufactured here. And to reduce engine noise entering the engine compartment, inner dash insulators are developed by PCP from a wide range of materials such as absorber barrier (AB) or absorber barrier absorber (ABA) concepts, stated a company official.
In the first section, adhesive sheets are used instead of spraying liquid adhesive to maintain the evenness of rubberised compounds. The low melt fibre sheets are pre-heated at 180-200 °C and are sandwiched between EVA sheets built of rubber components to develop NVH insulation parts like inner dash insulation. Hydraulic press machines are operated for up to three minutes depending on the thickness of the sheet and profile of the part and are followed by water spray to cool down the sheet. In the press machine itself, cut out impressions are developed on the product for wiring harness and other parts installation in the car and are soon handpicked for making the product ready for installation at the OEM level. According to the company, there are different types of materials, including resin-felt-based, glasswool-based and lightweight PUFF with high sound absorption coefficient that can be used.
Across the polyurethane foam (PU) section, products like inner dash insulation, hood insulation among others are manufactured to reduce NVH levels in the vehicle. Diesel-powered cars tend to generate more noise; thus, body hugging hood insulation and inner dash insulation are developed critically to offer better NVH levels, said Saroff. Rubber sheet is subjected to pre-heat in a separate mould, followed by a vacuum pump foam process, where the sheet takes the shape of a desired product according to the OEM demand. The sheet is then placed on the PU foaming process moulds. PU foam is heated at 70 °C and injected into the mould at high pressure in kilograms weight depending on the thickness of PU foam required on the rubber sheet. The PU foaming process is conducted for up to five minutes and post which the final shape is given to the product using press machines.
For the products like roof insulation and hood insulation, hydraulic machines have been installed that follow a thermoforming process, where the moulds are heated and the material is kept at a room temperature. PCP is also working on the next generation of insulation pads called Noiselite for which the raw material is currently being imported. The low weight Nosielite can be used in dash cockpits, inner and hard trim panels as it has enhanced compression recovery to further reduce noise levels for an enhanced customer experience.
MELT SHEET PROCESS
The melt sheet department is among the major revenue earners for PCP and it claims to hold around 80 % market share in India. The section develops melt sheets based on asphalt and vibration dampener materials such as heat fusible, adhesive, magnetic and high damping products to reduce sheet metal vibrations. Asphalt is treated with heat on the first floor of the facility and mixed with bitumen to develop a semi-solid compound. The compound is subsequently poured under gravity into machines placed on the ground floor to develop different sizes of sheets. The sheet is subsequently chiselled out according to the demand for three conveyor belts. Such developed sheets are heated before applying the same, largely on the under body parts of the vehicle to reduce noise and vibrations coming from the bottom of the vehicle, explained Saroff. The melt sheets that find application on the door side are magnetic in nature and are magnetised before sticking the same on the door panel, Saroff said.
PCP has an in-house NVH R&D centre having capabilities of designing, simulation and development of components. The company has a team of 20+ engineers in the R&D department based out of Hosur and spends around 1.5-2 % of its revenue on its R&D activities. According to Saroff, PCP designers are well trained on CATIA and Unigraphics to meet the demanding challenges in the design phase and conducting tests for transmission loss, sound absorption coefficient and loss factor. The Chopanki facility also has a small R&D centre that undertakes smaller jobs that require a quicker overview in a project and enable competence development in local workforce. PCP has developed fire retardant moulded PUF that has resulted in risk-free engine compartment insulations for the automotive industry, said Saroff.
PCP has also introduced dash-cams that continuously record the frontal road view of the car to capture video evidences in the event of road accidents and also ARAI-certified baby seats for child safety in cars. While the front and rear cams will come into play in cases of a vehicle being involved in an incident, the internal cam tracks the behaviour of not just the driver but also of the passengers. This is critical, since passenger misbehaviour does not generate the same kind of attention like driver misbehaviour in India, said Saroff. PCP is also developing a number of products for CVs, which include interior trims, noise sheets, underbody insulations, floor carpets and mats. The company has invested around ` 15 cr in a phased manner at its sixth facility in Gujarat to serve the growing demand of both local and foreign players expanding base in India.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay