Special engineering involves the customised design and construction of machines and plants to customer specifications and wishes, a description which exactly fits the Sonplas company located in Straubing, Germany. The company's range stretches from total new developments through to various levels of comprehensive customised machine adaptation and modification. One of the challenges when manufacturing one-offs in a continuous production process is to keep time, effort and costs affordable. This is where flexible concepts are paramount - and why collaboration with Misumi has proven to be so worthwhile.
Whether the sector is cars, trucks or racing – as one of the leading manufacturers of testing and calibration equipment for injection systems for the automotive industry, Sonplas provides total solutions from a single source: from development and design through assembly and start up, backed by a comprehensive range of services. The long track record includes many successful turn-key solutions covering a diverse spectrum. An in-house R&D department ensures that latest technological demands and requirements are fully satisfied.
Quality work under high pressure
The Sonplas portfolio includes equipment for hydro-erosive (HE) abrasive flow machining of injectors and injection components, as implemented for example on the automatic HE fluid grinding module for flow calibration of high pressure injection components. The HE abrasion process makes use of abrasive particles suspended in a fluid pumped at high pressures, of up to 120 bar, through the item's boreholes in order to smooth the inner surfaces. Depending upon application the through flow can be improved by between 8 and 50 percent. The abrasive process itself stops as soon as the correlated target flow value is reached. The plant is built on a space saving round table concept, in which the parts pass through various processes at sequential stations: HE abrasion, rinse, remeasurement. The module is loaded and unloaded fully automatically by a three-axle robot with a pallet conveyor system; the robot picks the items from the pallet and places them on the round table.
Whether the solution required is in the field of petrol/gas/diesel components, plant for HE fluid grinding, special solutions or in the field of component machining and testing – the overriding challenge of day-to-day design work is to offer good functionality for good money, a fact very well known to Dipl.-Ing. Richard Hasenecker from his work in the mechanical design department at Sonplas where he is project leader for standardisation. This being the case, wherever possible standardised and individual modules, assemblies and sub-systems are combined and interlinked on the modular principle. “What we do is build on basic elements to create an individual final product.” Basically, you don’t start from scratch every time but build on a tried-and-tested platform – implementing best practice in special mechanical engineering, which also applies to the individual components and parts used.
What you need, as you need it
In terms of mechanical components, there are a lot of choices available. “Distance shafts, hinges, stop screws, rubber blocks and many, many more – we make a great deal of use of the wide range of Misumi components on offer,” explains Mr Hasenecker. More than 200 articles are part of the standard range, on a steadily climbing curve. The engineer is very enthusiastic about the unusually broad range available, because otherwise a lot of these “small bits and pieces” would have to be produced and manufactured in house. “The first thing we do is check out Misumi, this usually saves both the need to find a manufacturer, and also to make enquiries about costs and delivery times.” Finding out which components are available, in which versions, what they cost and how quickly they can be delivered is often a time consuming process in the day to day work of a design department, time which quickly adds up when one bears in mind the number and volume of small mechanical components. To deal with this problem, Misumi has an assortment on offer comprising more than one million mechanical parts and components and a main catalogue which provides details of all technical specifications as well as all commercial information about each single component - definitely a user-friendly solution. All information necessary is available immediately.
Misumi has geared its operation to fully meet the needs of special mechanical engineering. This is reflected by both the broad range offered and by the fast access to information about the parts, including business terms and conditions: delivery of even just one piece, there is no minimum order quantity, no minimum order value, and no mark-up for minimum orders. Within Germany there is no charge for postage or packing. Misumi goes further: A good example of this was a hinge which did not match the borehole pattern on the intended plant – the Schwalbach-based organisation offered to supply Sonplas with just the central pin and the door flap as an sub-assembly, so Sonplas only had to produce the second flap in-house, rather than the entire component. “In the meantime we have installed more than 2000 of this special hinge, that does have an impact,” reports Mr Hasenecker. More and more components are being taken on board and standardised at Sonplas according to field and sector. This means that colleagues working in other projects from other departments can quickly access tried-and-trusted components and save themselves a long-winded search.