Published: July 8th 2012July 8th 2012
I got here on a thursday and thursday is the only day the factory is closed. They keep it open 6 days a week without taking saturday or sunday off. They say most business' here have sunday off but the whole automotive has thursday off instead. It's a weird tradition that has been going on for 30 something years but oddly enough they are changing it to sunday while im here.
The main factory they own makes anti-roll bars (sway bars) for almost 8 different companies. All unfamiliar to me besides Fiat.
I came at a strange time because they are moving into a larger facility. The moving is almost completely done except for the furnaces, which i will come back to later.
So far I have only been observing everything that is going on. On my first day I went to the older smaller part of the factory where they do the heat treatment. It starts with these straight solid bars that go into a huge furnace that is at 1800 degrees F. They produce 8 different types of bars at once so they go in, in a repeating pattern. As they come out, 1 of 8 men grab the red hot bar with big plier things and carry to their own specific station. They put the bar in a hydraulic die that bends it into the specific shape that the customer asked for. Then the whole die and still red hot bar get lowered into a cooled and circulated oil bath. The point of this is too increase the hardness of the steel dramitically. It increases about 50 points on the rockwell scale ( if any engineers are reading). The problem now is that the bars are extremely hard but as hardness goes up, ductility goes down. The bars need to be ductile because sway bars work by resisting axial torque. To improve ductility, they go through another oven thats at about 1200 degrees for four hours while the first oven was only twenty minutes. This brings the hardness down to a total of around 48.
I have to go to the factory now. Will add the rest of the process later.