Samples of automotive chassis components that Alf Engineering manufactures.
As the foundation of any automotive vehicle, the chassis is a vital component of the overall automotive manufacturing process, but its importance is often overlooked. Mechanical parts such as the engine, tires, and brakes are bolted onto a chassis, so the quality and precision of this skeletal frame is crucial in ensuring the stability and durability of a vehicle.
One such company that supplies automotive chassis to four wheeler automakers is Alf Engineering Pvt Ltd (Alf Engineering), a leading Indian manufacturer headquartered in Nashik, Maharashtra. Incorporated in 1980, the company operates 10 plants across India – Nashik, Pune, Haridwar, Rudrapur, Hosur, and Zaheerabad – that collectively manufacture over 1,200 chassis each day.
Alf Engineering’s plant in Zaheerabad specializes in the production of automotive chassis for sport utility vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles, light commercial vehicles, and pick-up for Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M). Mr. Darshan Aher, Head of Operations, Alf Engineering, said, “We believe in harnessing new technologies to provide our customers with products of the best quality. Our teams use top-of-the-line machines for hydroforming and also state-of-the-art metrology devices for inspections and quality control.”
While setting up the Zaheerabad facility in 2012, Alf Engineering looked to procure additional equipment for the new plant. The company was already familiar with FARO devices then, as one of the plants in Nashik had been using a FARO Gage for its quality checks. “Our colleagues suggested that we get in touch with FARO to see how their 3D measurement devices could work for us,” recalled Mr. Aher. “After assessing our measurement needs, FARO recommended a 12-ft FaroArm Fusion, which has satisfied all our requirements to-date.”
As a long-term user of 2D measuring tools, Alf Engineering had heavily relied on hand tools (e.g. vernier calipers) to conduct quality checks in the past. While these tools allowed the technicians to obtain measurements, the process was a time-consuming and tedious one. Readings had to be taken more than once and verified so as to prevent human error, and manual data entries meant that report generation was also an uphill task. In addition, components had to be physically moved to a measuring room before any such inspection could be performed. The parts that Alf Engineering works with typically range from 2m to 12m in length, and weigh between 10kg to 250kg. Moving these components was a labor-intensive, physically demanding task.
A 12-ft FaroArm Fusion replaces the hand tools that Alf Engineering used to rely on for quality checks.
For those reasons, the introduction of the Fusion was welcomed with open arms at the Zaheerabad plant. One of FARO’s best-selling product lines, the FaroArm is a portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM) that resembles a human arm in appearance. Equipped with several articulating joints, the FaroArm offers an infinite number of rotations that offers users maximum versatility and flexibility, and that is able to determine and record the location of a probe in 3D space and then report the results through software.
At the onset, one of the most obvious benefits that the Fusion offered Alf Engineering was its portability. Weighing slightly less than 10kg, the Fusion can be easily deployed anywhere on the shop floor. “Instead of carrying the heavy components to the measuring room, we can now just bring the device to the object that needs to be measured,” commented Mr. Aher. “This lightens the work load and significantly improves efficiency, since the component does not have to leave the production line.”
Importantly, the Fusion eliminated Alf Engineering’s concerns for human error and allowed the team to acquire measurements in a much shorter time. The device produces consistent results, regardless of the operator’s skill or experience. Its ability to record data digitally has reduced measurement time and enabled reports to be generated quickly and easily, as there was no longer a need for manual recording of data. Mr. Aher added, “Measurements attained by the Fusion can be compared directly against CAD models, and inaccuracies can be spotted and rectified right away.”
With a repeatability of 0.104mm, the Fusion fulfills Alf Engineering’s measurement needs for inspection checks, dimensional calculations, and quality control. Furthermore, the Fusion’s built-in temperature sensors allows it to react accordingly to thermal changes, which is of great benefit to the team, as the temperature of the shop floor is slightly above room temperature.
Since investing in the Fusion, Alf Engineering has enjoyed time- and cost-savings through a boost in its overall measurement capabilities and productivity. On average, the team uses the Fusion between 5 – 6 hours a day, and heavily relies on it to conduct all quality checks in all stages of its manufacturing process, right from pre- to post-production.
The portable Fusion can be set-up easily, anywhere on the shop floor.
With the Fusion, quality control is much easier and we have never been more confident with our products than we are now,” concluded Mr. Aher. “The device has been a worthwhile investment, and we will definitely share our FARO experience with other automotive-related businesses.”
Alf Engineering Pvt Ltd is a leading Indian manufacturer headquartered in Nashik, Mumbai. Incorporated in 1980, the company operates 10 plants across India – in Nashik, Pune, Haridwar, Rudrapur, Hosur, and Zaheerabad – that collectively manufacture over 1,200 chassis each day. The company is also making strides in the design and development of hydroformed components for the automotive industry, and plans on bringing the products’ level of quality on par with that of its automotive chassis’ business. Alf Engineering’s main clientele include Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), Ashok Leyland-Nissan, Tata Motors, and Isuzu.
For more information, please visit www.alfengineering.com
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