Schaeffler invests millions in Welsh plant

Posted on 17 Aug 2011 by The Manufacturer

German manufacturer Schaeffler has invested millions of euros in new plant and machinery at its automotive engine component plant in South Wales.

The new machinery includes surface coating machines and a 66-tonne deep drawing press, and will enable Schaeffler UK to produce relatively repeatable but quality mechanical tappets and other automotive engine components.

The new coatings plant, which currently comprises of one coating machine with the possibility of more to follow, was installed in June 2011. The deep drawing press is due to arrive at the factory in August 2011 and is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.

The new coating machines will enable Schaeffler UK to coat the surface of engine components with an extremely thin Tiondur DLC – a hard, multi-layer coating. The coating is applied in vacuum-controlled chambers. It minimises friction between components in the engine, making the engine consume less fuel. Also, while conventional coating methods produce CO2, this technique does not.

The other part of the new investment is a deep drawing press, which will also provide Schaeffler UK with technical advantages over its competitors. The press will cover 35 square metres of floor space and will enable the factory to press tappet blanks to ‘near net shape’ – as close to the finished product as possible. Using the new press, Schaeffler UK will be able to manufacture a more cost effective alternative to the traditional forged and turned design.

Roger Evans MBE, plant director at Schaeffler UK commented: “Without doubt, this investment is the single most important investment in this factory’s history. [Now] we will be able to produce new superior quality components that meet the specific needs of our automotive customer base, which will help safeguard the long term future of this factory.”

Business Minister Edwina Hart said: “This investment will enable Schaeffler to remain highly competitive within a global market and I am pleased it has been supported by the Welsh Government.”

Established in 1955, the Llanelli plant manufactures high precision engine components for the automotive market. The plant currently employs 230 people and is an autonomous subsidiary of the multi-national German-owned Schaeffler Group.

George Archer