2022 April the 1st Week TIC News Recommendation - All-rounder for modern vehicles - Schaeffler develops and manufactures EC motors in Bühl
Schaeffler's new production facility for brushless DC motors in Bühl
It is a key component for numerous applications in the vehicle from the drive to the steering and measures just around five centimeters in diameter and height: a brushless DC motor, or EC motor for short. Schaeffler is now developing and manufacturing it in Bühl, thereby entering a growing field of business. The planning and implementation of the first production line for the new engine generation at the site is the result of close cooperation between a team from four Schaeffler locations.
Whether in dual clutch transmissions, hybrid transmissions, rear axle steering, in thermal management or in seat adjustment: EC motors are being used in more and more areas of modern vehicles. In Bühl, Schaeffler is now building the all-rounders itself and using them as standard in a hydrostatic clutch actuator. With the help of the engine, the required pressure is built up to actuate the clutch. "EC motors are true all-rounders and vehicles can no longer be imagined without them," says Dr. Jochen Schröder, head of the Electromobility division at Schaeffler in Bühl. Because compared to motors with mechanical sliding contacts, brushless EC motors have a significantly longer service life, are more efficient and also work significantly more reliably. Incidentally, the abbreviation EC stands for "electronically commutated", i.e. the electronic change of voltage from one motor winding to the next.
High level of vertical integration and manufacturing depth
A special feature of the EC motors produced in Bühl is the single-tooth structure of the stator it contains. These are now individually punched, stacked, insulated with injection molding and, after being wrapped with enameled copper wire, joined together to form a chain. This design ensures a significantly higher power density compared to the so-called full cut, in which the sheet metal core of the stator consists of a closed ring. "When manufacturing the EC motor, we rely on in-house production from stamping the stator teeth to the finished product," says Schröder. This high degree of vertical vertical integration has numerous advantages: Since Schaeffler now implements the entire process chain from the individual part to the finished engine in Bühl, the specialists in production can react more flexibly to customer customization requests and continuously optimize production itself.
The complete production line for the series production of the EC motors was created in just over a year and is the result of the cooperation of a multi-site team from Bühl, Höchstadt, Herzogenaurach and Haguenau. The production comprises a total of around 25 process steps, which are fully automated and fully interlinked with two integrated injection molding machines, automatic winding machines and end-of-line testing. A driverless transport system supplies the system with individual parts and transports the finished products on. "The tight schedule could only be met because all employees worked closely together on this project," says Benjamin Hoffarth, Head of Operations in the Actuator Systems division at Schaeffler in Bühl. He is responsible for setting up production, in which more than one million EC motors will be manufactured every year from now on. "For the development and production of future EC motors, our team in Bühl relies particularly on flexibility," says Hofarth. A specially developed production kit of stators with three diameter increments (53 millimeters, 75 millimeters and 86 millimeters) is intended to cover different motor sizes and thus also different applications. The aim is also to adapt the future portfolio of EC motors so that they can be used in the areas of actuators, e-mobility and industry as diverse as possible. Schaeffler is thus opening up an ever-expanding market.
As a leading global supplier to the automotive and industrial sectors, the Schaeffler Group has been driving forward groundbreaking inventions and developments in the fields of motion and mobility for over 75 years. With innovative technologies, products, and services for electric mobility, CO₂-efficient drives, Industry 4.0, digitalization, and renewable energies, the company is a reliable partner for making motion and mobility more efficient, intelligent, and sustainable. The technology company manufactures high-precision components and systems for powertrain and chassis applications as well as roller bearing solutions for a large number of industrial applications.
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