Ford has confirmed industrial adhesives manufacturer Henkel as its preferred supplier.
Loctite is a name more commonly associated with superglue, a simple answer to most household adhesive problems, but how can Loctite be applied in the technical world of automotive manufacturing?
The technology behind Loctite has made the glue, and its variants of sealants, so strong and durable that Ford is using it in engine production at its Bridgend and Dagenham plants.
By using Loctite 243 in its plugging process, Ford have found a simple and flexible product that means the plug remains watertight – a process which can be applied to process automation as they have developed a way for the product to be applied via a spinning cup.
The benefits to products made by superglue don’t stop there. Henkel’s products accommodate vibration in engine testing and a way for rough surfaces to be joined without the need for secondary finishing.
Ford’s Dagenham plant has four diesel production lines and is the largest facility of its type in the world, manufacturing 1.5 million engines per year. Between this site and its Bridgend site, Ford manufactures engines which are used in its own vehicles and those specified by Citroen, Peugeot, Mazda, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover.
Henkel have engineered a shrink bonding solution which is in use at the Bridgend site, allowing the cup plug sealing on the Volvo SI6 short, six cylinder engine to remain leak-free by using Loctite 243. This is just one of several gasketing products in use at the site – the high strength silicone Loctite 5910 is used to seal the oil pan joint and seal the midshaft housing.
Loctite RTV and anaerobic products create self forming gaskets that provide a seal between components, with maximum face-to-face contact, eliminating flange face corrosion. Although using Loctite products in this process costs the same as hard gasketing, the manufacturer makes saving by the flexibility of the product.
Ford’s liquid sealing specialist, Tsunou Chang, explained: “Engines have different bolthole patterns and coolant routes with a varying number of ports. The major benefit with RTV is that these variations can be easily programmed so that we can process different engines on the same production line. This simply isn’t viable with hard gasketing.”
Henkel continue to make improvements to its products and have seen other industries, such as the boiler manufacturing industry, switch to its products because of its transferable watertight function.
Paul Middlehurst, account manager at Henkel, spoke of Henkel’s future R&D plans. He said: “There is increasing environmental demand for leak free engines. Our development is driven by these needs and Henkel’s focus is on more forgiving products that work on new substrates and in a variety of environments.”