Reengineering for steel material refining, and the start of construction on a CVT hot-forging press line
Aichi Steel is currently revising its production process to strengthen each stage of the steelmaking process, in order to enhance the manufacturing capabilities of "integrated forging and steelmaking," a cohesive production process from base material to finished product.
For steel materials, as part of our 4S Re-Engineering*1 program, in October 2015 Aichi Steel began revising the refining process. Specifically, we began construction on a steel material water-cooled facility and refining line, which will shorten shipment lead times and allow us to meet market demands for superior quality. The new facility is scheduled to commence operations in January 2017.
For forged products, we are implementing a series of production process innovations we call "forgings reengineering." To meet automakers' needs for lighter vehicles with greater fuel efficiency and lower costs, in April 2015 we began operations on a forging press line for crankshafts used in small and mid-sized vehicles. In November that same year, we decided to simultaneously establish two hot-forging press lines to produce forgings for continuously variable transmission (CVT)*2. These new facilities will provide a top-class level of high-speed automatic forging in Japan, while the use of an advanced forging isothermal annealing (FIA)*3 furnace will shorten production lead times, enhance energy efficiency, and help to reduce CO2 emissions. The new facilities are scheduled to commence operations in January 2017.
Integrated Forging and Steelmaking Process
*1 4S Re-Engineering process innovation keyed by the watchwords "simple, slim, short, and straight."
*2 CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) A transmission that continuously changes the gear ratio.
*3 FIA (Forging Isothermal Annealing) Heat treatment using energy retained from hot forging.
Used in the MAKITA Cordless Grass Trimmer
Aichi Steel has established an innovative "integrated molding" process to produce its MAGFINE® Dy (Dysprosium) free bonded magnets, which first entered mass production and sale in 2011. The combination of freely shaped MAGFINE and injection molding simplifies the motor assembly process and lowers the component cost, while retaining the same functionality and quality of sintered neodymium (Nd) magnets. This process is being used in the MAKITA Cordless Grass Trimmer. We will use this technology to develop more competitive magnets, benefitting our customers with enhanced production, while helping to reduce the use of heavy rare earth materials for which supply is unstable.
Aichi Steel has utilized its "MI Sensor," a supersensitive magnetic sensor, to develop a device to detect foreign substances. We developed this equipment in response to the recent increase in awareness regarding food safety, taking advantage of the MI sensor's four main features—small size, high sensitivity, low power consumption, and rapid response. The device incorporates the MI Sensor in a thin mat. By simply placing foods or other items on it at the checkout register of convenience stores or supermarkets, it's possible to detect metallic foreign substances, preventing potential incidents immediately before the product is passed to the consumer. We will continue to use the manufacturing capabilities of the Aichi Steel Group, which has been supported by the automotive industry, to ensure safety and security around the world in various industries.
- A mobile foreign substance detecting device using a tablet, and the MI Sensor
- The detector has been highly acclaimed by visitors trying it during various trade shows, and has been featured in TV news stories.
Aichi Steel started construction in December 2015 on a new administration building on the site of its current headquarters location (Arao-machi, Tokai-shi, Aichi Prefecture). This new office, part of the 75th anniversary project, will strengthen the Company's business continuity structure, accommodate modern workstyles, and make extensive use of advanced energy-saving technologies, supporting our efforts for environmental conservation and workforce diversity.
In constructing the new administration building, Aichi Steel aims to achieve a more harmonious coexistence with all stakeholders, and as a manufacturing-oriented company respected in the community, support our growth toward becoming a company providing great value to society. The new building comprises a main structure to be finished in December 2016, and a hall scheduled for completion in February 2018.