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Investment in new plant and machinery gives Schaeffler UK the edge

17 August 2011

The Schaeffler Group has invested several million euros in new plant and machinery at its automotive engine component manufacturing plant in South Wales. The new investment has the support of the Welsh Government. The new machinery – which includes surface coating machines and a 66-tonne deep drawing press – will enable Schaeffler UK to produce highly repeatable, superior quality mechanical tappets and other automotive engine components.

Coated tappets produced at Schaeffler UK's plant in Wales
Coated tappets produced at Schaeffler UK's plant in Wales

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

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.

The new coating machines will enable Schaeffler UK to coat the surface of engine components with an ultra-thin Tiondur + DLC, extremely hard, multi-layer coating. This black coloured coating is applied via special, vacuum-controlled chambers, and its function is to minimise friction between mating components in the engine, resulting in lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions.

The applied coating material is either in the form of a solid (physical vapour deposition) or in the form of a gas (plasma assisted chemical vapour deposition). In contrast to conventional coating methods, this new technique will enable Schaeffler to produce unique compositions of materials and coatings using an environmentally friendly (no CO2 is produced) vacuum process.

Roger Evans MBE, plant director at Schaeffler UK says the significant investment in new plant and machinery represents a tremendous shift in the way his factory will produce automotive components in the future. "Without doubt, this investment is the single most important investment in this factory’s history," he says.

"By embracing these advanced coating and deep drawing technologies, 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.”

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