Federal-Mogul Holdings’ Powertrain Division reports it has expanded its Qingdao manufacturing plant in China to increase capacity for its lightweight pistons by 30%, in response to growing demand from transplant automakers in that market. The auto parts manufacturer indicated the expansion will achieve a 30% increase in finished products for three new OEM engine customers, starting later this year.
It added that the expansion is in line with the corporate strategy to increase local sourcing for both domestic and foreign automakers operating in China.
"Federal-Mogul's commitment to its customers in China, and throughout the world is to provide advanced powertrain solutions that reduce emissions and improve fuel economy," stated Rainer Jueckstock, who is co-CEO of Federal-Mogul Corp. and CEO of its Powertrain Division. "The expansion at Qingdao reflects that commitment, as we develop our most advanced, state-of-the art piston technologies directly onsite, supporting local customers with global powertrain solutions."
Last year, Federal-Mogul formed a joint venture with a Chinese manufacturer to produce large-bore piston rings for the industrial engine market.
A Federal-Mogul source listed the Qingdoa’s current capabilities as aluminum melting, gravity casting, and finish machining (including turning, boring, profiling.) The cast products are inspected with NDT systems, including traceability testing, and then treated by immersion and spray washing and phosphatizing. The pistons are coated with graphite (AV11/AV13/AV15) and anodized, prior to the auto ring/pin assembly process, and finally a finished product inspection.
Defining Pistons' Role in Smaller Engines
Pistons are important to the performance of smaller, more fuel-efficient and emissions-reducing automotive engines, including turbocharged models that reach higher peak temperatures and pressures during the combustion process.
The focus of the Qingdao expansion are Federal-Mogul’s Elastoval® piston products, which combine high-strength “piston architecture” with a low-friction, durable piston skirt coating. These products are designed with reduced boss gaps and a smaller distance between the side panels, which are angled or even multi-angled. In most cases, a convex boss structure is used, with optional weight-relieving pockets in the pin direction.
The Qingdao plant also will produce the newer Elastoval® II aluminum pistons, introduced in 2012. Announced then as an option for the European automotive market, to promote fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions, the Elastoval II piston is reportedly 20% lighter than previous models, with wall sections as thin as 2.5 mm, compared with the 4 mm sections of the earlier previous design, and yet capable of increased power outputs and able to withstand the higher pressures that occur late in the combustion cycle of downsized engines.
The engine piston plays a critical role in providing fuel-efficient, emissions-compliant solutions for downsized, turbocharged engines that produce higher peak temperatures and pressures during the combustion process. These engines are experiencing rapid growth in the Chinese automotive market. Federal-Mogul's Elastoval technology combines high-strength piston architecture with a low friction, durable piston skirt coating to deliver a lightweight design that meets the needs of these demanding engine platforms.
"Federal-Mogul's expertise in design and manufacturing has enabled us to provide solutions that fit the demanding requirements of the China market," stated Steven Krause, operations director, Federal-Mogul Powertrain, East Asia. "The investment in advanced manufacturing systems and capacity reflect our commitment to enable customers to be the most efficient and competitive players in the technology-driven automotive industry in China."
The Qingdao plant employs 800 people, according to Federal-Mogul.
"The expansion of Federal-Mogul's Qingdao Piston facility and the new technologies that will be produced there enables us to further increase our production, while at the same time, effectively and efficiently serve our valued customers," according to Frank Zhou, Qingdao Piston facility general manager.