The package was in support of the new manufacturing facility housing an advanced, flexible manufacturing system for the production of complex automotive components and to help OEMs bring new innovations to the market. The machining of cylinder heads, chain case covers, sumps and cylinder blocks for three major car and sports car manufacturers are part of the facility’s work.

The fixtures are stored and managed in a Fastems 72-pallet system that is located within a fully automated cell. The delivered solution allows for robots to lift components on and off the fixture during the wash part of the process, which meant consideration during fixture design had to be given to how the parts would be accessed and gripped during this automated sequence. And it was also critical that fixtures were monitored via air sensing to confirm parts were correctly positioned and seated following auto loading.

Recalls Carl Baker, joint managing director of Brown & Holmes: “It was important to collaborate closely, not only with Cosworth but also with the other suppliers: Walter, who supplied the tooling (01527 839450); ABB, who supplied the robotics (01908 350300); Fastems, who designed the pallet systems (01322 282276); and Matsuura, whose machines were being used within the process (01530 511400).

Cosworth fixture

Each fixture was designed from scratch, with four Brown & Holmes in-house design engineers working full time on the project during the critical development stage. With a known pedigree in supplying solutions for many similar automotive components, Brown & Holmes had an advantage, as Baker offers: “We were able to draw on our years of experience in designing and manufacturing fixtures for the automotive industry. We also have a large in-house design capacity, so were able to dedicate almost 50% of our design resource to realise this project. Our experienced team was able to utilise CAD models to good effect, so all the parties involved could have as much input as needed before the final design and subsequent manufacturing took place.”

As well as being fully designed and manufactured in-house at Brown & Holmes’ premises in Tamworth, the finished fixtures were also tested, inspected and signed off within the facility. Says Baker: “It is essential as part of any design and manufacture project that all interested parties are able to visit our premises, hopefully with a component to try onto the fixtures. This allows everyone to look at the fine detail of ease of loading, possible swarf traps and cutter access, amongst other things. This in turn makes the delivery to the customer so much smoother, so that the fixtures perform right first time and deliver over and above customer expectations.”

Having completed the project in late 2015, Baker concludes: “Despite the size of the undertaking, it has been a very smooth process with an excellent flow of information from all sides. The Cosworth team has been an absolute pleasure to work with.” Brown & Holmes is now involved in the design, manufacture and supply of inspection fixtures, in fact.