Cutting tool specialist Mapal is now supplying all of the critical tools for the latest engine line retooling project at Triumph Motorcycles. The order, worth over £75,000, covers more than 30 different styles of custom developed tool, including replaceable blade, carbide and PCD types.
This success follows more than a decade of close co-operation between the two companies, during which time Mapal has helped Triumph to achieve continual improvements in its manufacturing operations.
Today, Triumph Motorcycles produces 50,000 motorcycles annually and employs around 1,600 people worldwide, but this was just 2,000 in 2008
At the outset, the machine tools used to manufacture critical components were supplied from Japan complete with tooling. This arrangement was initially satisfactory, but soon the company's growing success meant that Triumph was struggling to meet demand.
One particular bottleneck was the machining of the valve seats, and the company's engineers asked Mapal for proposals to address this problem. Mapal produced a solution that reduced the number of tools needed from five to just two, leading to a dramatic reduction in cycle time.
Other production line bottlenecks soon emerged, however. To address these, Mapal analysed the tooling requirements for the whole line and developed improvements that greatly increased throughput, while reducing per-part production costs.
Because of this success, Triumph invited Mapal to tender for tooling on its next new production line, which was being set up to manufacture type 806 four-cylinder engines.
After participating in a competitive tendering process, Mapal supplied around half of the tooling for the 806 engine line, but for the next new engine line, Mapal delivered a turnkey project, including all tooling. This was repeated on two more production lines for Triumph's plants in Thailand.
With every new project, machining tolerances become tighter and cycle times shorter, but its wide experience in the automotive sector has allowed Mapal to address these challenges. It has, for example, introduced Triumph to an innovative arrangement for valve guide and seat finishing, which uses two tools for machining the valve seat and the valve guide complete.
Most recently, Mapal has been working with Triumph on an engine production line that is being completely retooled at the Hinckley plant. As always, Triumph put this work out to competitive tender, but concluded that Mapal offered the best balance of cost, quality, expertise and support. Subsequently, the company has received an order worth over £75,000, which covers more than 30 different styles of custom developed tool, including replaceable blade, carbide and PCD types.
"With Mapal, it's not just about supplying us with tools, excellent though they are," explains Joe Brooks, production supervisor at Triumph. "The company constantly works with us to find ways of making further improvements to our processes and, on the very few occasions when we do have problems, Mapal provides responsive and effective support."
Author: Andrew Allcock