Powertrain Metrology Centre Support JLR Technology and Quality Focus

Jaguar Land Rover Automotive (JLR), the UK’s largest vehicle manufacturer, delivered record numbers of the iconic British brand vehicles in 2017 with growth in key markets of China and North America up 19.9% and 4.7% with sales of Jaguar up 20% globally.

When Ford sold Jaguar Land Rover to Tata Motors in 2008 the company relied solely on Ford for the engines that continued to power its range of premium vehicles. Jaguar Land Rover decided that in order to be a premium automotive manufacturer it needed to manufacture its own engines and in 2014 a state of the art engine plant was built to produce its award winning Ingenium family of engines.  The opening of the Engine Manufacturing Centre, representing a £1 billion investment and covering 2 million sq.ft. was culmination of millions of man-hours in designing testing and planning the manufacturing processes for a modular family of engines.  The plant manufactured over 305,000 of its Ingenium diesel and petrol engines in 2017.

The Metrology Department within Jaguar Land Rover’s Powertrain Product Engineering function was established to support the development of JLR’s new generations of powertrains and associated components.  After extensive research into the measurement requirements across all component and system engineering groups within Powertrain Engineering, the Metrology team took over an under-utilized measurement area in the Whitley Engineering Centre and transformed it into a world-class Powertrain Metrology Centre.

After a £5 million ($6.5 million) major transformation project the new metrology centre opened in September 2016, supporting all powertrain and vehicle projects.  JLR engineers can call upon the services of the Powertrain Metrology Centre including prototype vehicle and engine build support, first prototype component inspection, supplier quality investigation, durability and wear analysis and investigations into testing and customer product issues.  The facility is fully geared towards supporting Research and Development rather than the more conventional measurement centres of performing production control measurements.

“The work undertaken by the Metrology Centre constantly varies on a day-to-day basis with tasks ranging from confirming a single part dimension to developing new methods to inspect complex form geometry on high precision components.  The work of our skilled metrologists is supported by highly experienced engineers focused on ensuring results are delivered to the highest standards of accuracy allowing not only route symptoms but also route cause to be determined.” states Alan Olifent, Powertrain Metrology Technology Manager.

The metrology laboratory is temperature and humidity controlled providing the exacting measurement conditions necessary to ensuring optimum performance of the installed high accuracy metrology equipment which includes a Hexagon Leitz PMM-C ultra high accuracy moving table CMM with integrated rotary table. Additional high accuracy installed CMMs include a smaller Leitz Reference and a Zeiss Prismo, the latter being an existing machine upgraded to a similar specification to support directly manufacturing operations.  A large 2m x 3.3m x 1.5m Hexagon Global Advantage bridge CMM rounds out the CMM portfolio ensuring all vehicle parts can be measured with the accuracies necessary to perform investigative metrology.

The laboratory is over pressurized to prevent external ingress of contamination and controlled to 20±1°C with humidity maintained at 55% maximum to avoid risk of part corrosion. Parts entering the lab are acclimatized for a minimum of 24 hours in a programmable Kardex automated high bay warehousing system.

Olifent comments “The lab was developed with the focused mission of providing maximum part information for engineering analysis through the generation of in-depth point cloud data.”

A GOM ATOS structured light scanning system captures external part geometry while a North Star Imaging, dual power (450 kV & 225 kV), twin detector tomograph (CT) provides the required point clouds for internal parts inspection which can include casting porosity and cracks. The CT operates both NSI’s own proprietary CT analysis software along with the powerful Volume Graphics software to analyze the 3D models created by the CT Machine. At a recent metrology conference at the nearby MTC (Manufacturing Technology Centre) Olifent presented a technical paper explaining the value to JLR of the labs installed CT machine which he stated has returned its initial financial investment multiple times due to its use in investigative metrology activities, some of which are associated with complex parts supplied to JLR from external sources.

Portable metrology equipment also has a role to play in the Lab’s daily activities with a Hexagon portable arm CMM with touch probe and laser-scanner, Leica laser tracker with T-Probe and T-Scan hand-held devices included within the impressive equipment portfolio and allows investigative measurements to be performed in-lab, in-plant or in-field. All equipment was selected by JLR after an extensive technical evaluation period and purchased on conventional commercial terms with no privileged supplier relationships in-place albeit the Lab is an outstanding showcase for those suppliers fortunate enough to have had their equipment selected for inclusion.

.Equipment from Ametek’s Taylor Hobson including a Talysurf i-series with rotary motion and Talyrond 565H provide 2D and 3D surface finish and roundness part inspection capabilities rounding out the total measuring capabilities of the impressive laboratory.

As JLR travels its course into vehicle electrification and the next generation of automotive propulsion system development their engineers can be assured that their metrology needs are in capable hands with the its metrology support centre. Given that Jaguar Land Rover has announced it will invest £13.5 billion (€15 billion) over the next three years in the development of electrified versions of all its nameplates the lab, its equipment and Olifent’s team are likely to be extremely busy.

This article was written following the visit by Editor to the JLR Metrology Lab.