Auto Tech Review recently visited Delphi Technologies’ plant at Gurugram to witness its prowess in developing a product portfolio that makes vehicles drive cleaner and better
Emission control solutions are among the most sought after technologies nowadays. Growing pollution is making companies focus sharply on reducing harmful NOx, CO2 or PM, with another eye on increasing the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
During the entire lifetime operations, a vehicle, regardless of its make, tends to undergo a plethora of situations. Varied driving styles, driving conditions, infrastructure issues are key factors that affect emissions from a vehicle. As many as 12 technical centres of Delphi Technologies spread across the globe work cohesively in developing technologies as per varied emission norms applicable across different regions of the world. The company spends a substantial 25% of its global revenues on R&D activities and has set up a technical centre in Bengaluru to understand the uniqueness of Indian operating conditions and roll-out suitable technologies for India as well as abroad.
Established in 1996, Delphi Technologies India’s Gurugram plant spans across 3,600 sq m – it started off with catalytic converters and canisters in 1999 and shifted gears to roll out fuel delivery modules (FDM) in 2009. In order to increase its in-house capabilities, the company also started fuel pump manufacturing at its plant. Delphi is currently working with 87 vendors, both domestic (30) and international (57), to source quality raw materials as per their standards.
ENHANCING DRIVING COMFORT
The raw material receiving dock is divided into two parts, depending on storing conditions as well as material feeding frequency available on the line. The light/fast moving components are placed on the ground floor and the ones that are not required on a high priority basis, are placed on the first floor. The child parts received at the dock are segregated among direct online (DOL) and non-DOL parts. The non-DOL sample parts are checked as per the incoming parts quality control plan as against the DOL parts that are directly introduced into the assembly line. Every new part introduced is checked for a period of 90 days for various tests to check part robustness before it is introduced in the DOL system. Only the line feeders are designated to fetch raw material from the store under the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) system to manage workflow.
The plant is divided into nine assembly lines – three FDM lines, three canister lines, two fuel pump lines and one FBRV line. Based on vehicle capacities and design, the FDM lines roll out fuel delivery modules of various sizes for local as well as export commitments of the company. The fuel delivery module has the basic function to fetch fuel from the tank and channelise it with requisite pressure towards the engine as well as depict the amount of fuel available in the vehicle. Every FDM needs to deal with various levels and types of fuel; the lubrication of the FDM housing is a critical operation. Assembly line machines have been designed in a way that the process will not initiate until the parts are placed at the right position and in the right direction, thereby eliminating chances of human error.
The lean manufacturing system manages the single piece flow across the assembly line. A 10 station assembly line (that includes three stages for sub assembly operation) manages FDM production in each of the three lines. Various parts such as fuel pump, its holders, tubes, fuel level sensors and FBRV are scanned using 2D bar codes to ensure correct parts are installed in the following stages of operations. The fuel pump 2D code is also re-printed on the housing as the pump isn’t accessible during the final stages of testing. Subsequently, strainers are installed in the FDM to negate fuel contamination effects that may arise during inter-state vehicle movement. Introduction of strainers will eliminate the need of an extra filter to make vehicles comply with BS VI norms. The machines are designed in a way that every function undertakes checks for loads and displacement, to avoid over or under pressing of the parts that may lead to product failure at a later stage.
For higher capacity vehicles, Delphi engineers have equipped the FDM with a reservoir designed to serve adequate quantity of fuel when the vehicle has to operate across inclined surfaces. During such operating conditions, the fuel tends to shift places frequently inside the tank, which can make it difficult for the pump to fetch fuel faster. Thus, the reservoir always offers requisite amount of fuel demanded by the pump to operate robustly throughout the gradient as well.
In case of smaller engine vehicles, the FDM structure doesn’t necessitate reservoirs as such vehicles are designed with saddle tanks, in which the fuel level is maintained in any case for FDMs, based on the tank structure design. At the end of each line, every FDM is simulated and tested for empty to full fuel level so as to test whether fuel level sensors are working in perfect condition and do not misguide customers during on-road operations. The company has an installed capacity to roll out a FDM every 17.8 s, with as high as
98 % parts sourced locally.
Gasoline is a highly volatile fuel and whenever a car is parked in the sun, fuel vapours build up inside the tank that exudes a foul smell. The canister absorbs those fumes based on its construction (it is topped up with activated carbon) and subsequently releases it to the combustion chamber to reduce pollution. Canister is a fit and forget component, where only carbon is imported and rest of the parts are sourced locally. These components are developed across three assembly lines at the plant with minimum roll-out time of just 13 s. These canisters are designed specifically for motorcycles, commercial lawn equipment, pressure washers, stationary power generators, and many other products that are powered by small gasoline engines.
Canisters feature durable plastic designs and shapes that enable convenient packaging across a range of products featuring various fuel tank sizes. Traceability is of high importance at the canister lines. In the first step, the Julian date, line number and shift is punched on the canister, totally reverse of the FDM line, where the same are punched in the last step. The screen is stuffed in the next step to make it ready to hold carbon inside the canister housing that is channelised into the housing with gravity pouring from the first floor of raw material dock directly. Screen stuffing is again introduced on the other end of the canister to pack the carbon well, using vibration welding and simultaneously introduced with fuel tank inlets and combustion chamber outlets for effective operations.
The Delphi small engine evaporative emissions canisters are pre-tested to meet vibration, thermal, impact, vapour cycling and humidity environment requirements. Delphi employs an exhaustive analysis, testing, and validation process to verify that an evaporative emissions canister will work properly before it is manufactured. Similar vehicle operating conditions are simulated at the assembly line end to check the canister’s performance in varied conditions as well as leak testing, tank to engine and engine to tank testing for seamless movement through canisters as it can affect vehicle performance. The Poka Yoke system deployed at the plant ensures that if any machine sounds a rejection alarm, the part is not unclamped from the machine without a specific password, and would not restart till the time the part is not put into the rejection bin.
Most of the parts are imported for manufacturing fuel pumps to maintain high consistency levels. Two assembly lines undertake the fuel pump roll-out at the plant. Delphi Technologies has two applications for fuel pumps – diesel and biofuel. The plant is equipped to roll out nine models of fuel pumps on the same line, with a changeover time of 10 min only. Regardless of a geroter-based model or turbine-based model being developed, the plant can roll out a new fuel pump in a cycle time of 20 s flat. The 10 stage line is divided into sub-assembly station, high-end load tightening, torque monitoring, release valve assembly valve station (RVAV) to check inconsistency in pump pressure.
A host of tests – leak testing, voltage testing, charge testing with magnets, and various pressures are conducted to maintain product robustness. The product is subsequently laser marked for traceability, which then undergoes priming tests to reduce metal-to-metal friction as well as purging to drain out excess fluids. Delphi Technologies has installed a system that enables it to reuse the testing fuel or oil up to 300-400 micron level, to reduce oil wastage that was earlier disposed-off after a single usage.
With India continuing to face completely different duty cycles against leading economies of the world, fuel contamination continues to be among the top dilemmas that often tend to curtail vehicle performance. Through innovation and its product range, Delphi Technologies is trying to offer the industry solutions to mitigate such dilemmas.
Delphi Technologies’ facility is currently embracing as high as 80 % automation to manage precision and high quality. The Gurugram plant is gearing up to introduce a new line for canisters to serve the growing demand. With BS VI norms implementation now less than six months away, the company also intends to focus on sensors in coming times that will remain flexible for adoption across petrol and diesel vehicles to enable the ecosystem move swiftly towards a greener tomorrow.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja
PHOTO: Joshua David Luther