Crankshafts look pretty straightforward. In reality they are complex components, essential in all combustion engines (after all, they translate reciprocating linear piston motion into rotation). And as part of the engine’s lubrication circuit, crankshafts play the role of ‘heart’, spraying oil onto piston pins at a very precisely defined moment in the four-stroke cycle. That’s why lubrication holes are drilled through the solid mass of bearings and crank pins.
Of course, nothing can be left to chance when hardening a component as important as a crankshaft. At the same time, engine manufacturers must control costs and maintain throughput levels. All of these considerations help explain why John Deere has selected an EFD Induction crankshaft hardening system for its production plant near Orleans, France. The system features a host of exciting technical innovations. To start with, a robot-operated buffer of about 40 parts means non-stop production, even during inductor changeovers. And in a single station, eight hardening heads harden the crank pins and bearings for three, four and six cylinder crankshafts.
Another highlight is the robot’s role in non-destructive testing. In addition to its ‘hands’ for gripping crankshafts and positioning them throughout the treatment cycle, the robot features special tooling for checking lubrication holes.
After indexing the component, the robot introduces a needle through the hole to check for any drilling abnormalities. Another tool then controls the chamfers machined at each end of the lubrication holes. The robot identifies any faulty parts and places them on a special exit belt.
The hardening system can treat and quality control up to 32 parts an hour when processing 3 cylinder shafts; 18 parts an hour for 6 cylinders. And the reaction of the world’s largest maker of agricultural equipment to its new EFD Induction crankshaft hardening system? To date, John Deere has been delighted with the system----- -with the quality of the hardened shafts, with our ability to meet customer specifications, and with our lead times.