Cablecraft Motion Controls was contacted by a large exhaust gas management system supplier to develop a special actuator linkage to control a diverter valve in the exhaust gas stream of hybrid vehicles. The application presented quite a number of challenges.
The linkage will be exposed to high temperatures, high vibration and a dirty environment. Also, given the high-volume nature of these hybrid vehicles, price would be a key issue. The manufacturer’s original design concept featured a rod end with steel on steel design. This design would have led to failure in the harsh and corrosive environment. To help drive costs down, a new race material with a temperature rating between the current 450°F and 650°F was found. The new race material is rated at 575°F and could be used on the cooler side of the linkage.
Another challenge was in the months-long and exhaustive testing process for passenger vehicle components. During the polymer race development process, Cablecraft determined a new supplier would be required to meet the complexities of molding the new high-performance material. Cablecraft was able to work with the customer and supplier to meet the PPAP timing of the customer. The coordinated team effort made this a success.
Cablecraft sales and product engineering worked in close collaboration with the OEM. This included successful rapid prototype development for extensive validation testing which took place in Michigan and Europe. Cablecraft was able to offer additional cost-containment and value-adds for the customer: First, by expanding the race material offerings, Cablecraft was able to offer a cost-effective solution to use appropriately sized races for the application’s temperature requirements instead of the more expensive higher rated race on both sides. Secondly, Cablecraft was able to offer a value- added solution to the customer application. Cablecraft had the capability of installing the customer’s lever as part of the overall assembly. By providing these levers pre-installed, it saved the customer additional time and money during their assembly process.
This close collaboration has paid off. The initial volume estimate was 35,000 units in year one (2019). Demand has far exceeded those estimates by perhaps another 100,000 units. To ramp up production, Cablecraft has invested in new equipment and processes to meet the new requirements without disruption. The company’s extensive engineering expertise and highly flexible lean manufacturing environment have historically produced a wide range of cost effective motion control solutions for industrial, commercial and high-performance OEM applications.