Uses of CNC Machining In the Automotive Industry

Many car enthusiasts like to get under the bonnet and learn more about how their vehicle works, whether that is out of general interest or so that they can squeeze any extra power out of the engine. In this article we will look at how CNC machining is responsible for your car’s power output, it’s ignition system and much more.

Does Your Car Start First Time?

Many readers over the age of 40 will remember their first cars requiring a lot of TLC when starting up for the first time, especially in the cold. Often, not using the car for a week or so would mean getting out the jumper cables and asking your neighbour to help starting up when you need to get to work on a cold morning. Chances are, this is now a distant memory, and you’ll be more accustomed to starting your car without a key, let alone with a jump start. So how has this transition come about? it is down to the magic that is CNC machining.

The component in your engine that is responsible for starting your car is called the starter motor. Over the years, computer numerical controlled manufacturing has become more and more advanced, with higher precision parts being crafted by car makers. This fine quality has reduced the failure rate of starter motors, while at the same time requiring less energy to turn the engine on. So how is that? it is thanks to highly precise components that the starter motor has become more efficient over the years, with less potential points of failure. As a result, your car will now consistently start whereas as late as 20 years ago, your family car will likely have been a lot more troublesome.

How Much Horsepower Does Your Car Have?

Another department where cars have benefited from the wonders of CNC machining is in the realm of increasing power. Car enthusiasts will know of American muscle cars with engines as big as 6 litres or even up to 7 and a half litres, yet only developing a pitiful 250-350 horsepower. How incredibly inefficient! Yet at the time of writing in 2013, the Ford Fiesta ST has a 1.6 engine with approaching 200 horsepower, and the average 2 litre naturally aspirated BMW has 177 horsepower. In as late as the early 1990s, your average 2 litre engined car could only manage around 100 horsepower. So how have cars become so powerful with smaller engines? It is all down to CNC machining and the additional efficiency this can bring. Using this technology, car parts can be built to much tighter tolerances, meaning less wear on the engine, and therefore increased power and fuel efficiency.

Performance tuners also turn to CNC machining when they want to increase power in their vehicle. Racing parts must be designed to even tighter tolerances to produce the least energy wastage and highest power. In fact, modern Formula 1 engines are made to so precise tolerances that their engines cannot be started cold. Instead, their engine oil must first be heated to an optimal temperature. A similar phenomenon is seen in tuned road cars. As increased power requires a more efficient engine, more precise parts are required to eliminate any points of the engine that saps power. As a result, more power is generated, but in return the average performance vehicle or tuner car will need more maintenance and servicing as a result.

Change in the Automotive Industry – Chrysler and Fiat

Change and learning often come in pairs, although not always at the same time; learning from previous experiences may lead to change…

The case is that of the Chrysler and Fiat alliance. It is an operation that doesn’t involve cash. This seems logical in these “cash-is-king” times. Chrysler will cease 35% of its capital to the Fiat group. In return the Chrysler group will “receive access to technology to develop smaller and more efficient cars.”

This is a deal that can be profitable for both in times of crisis. Fiat wishes to return to the US with additional business beyond the present market for Masserati and Ferarri targeting a potential “return of Fiat and Alfa Romeo.” And Chrysler is looking for fixing a gap in market demand and current supply for smaller and less consuming cars. Details about how this could work are obviously not revealed. Additionally, a synergy effect is calculated to be about 3,5 billion dollars.

This new picture seems promising when comparing it to the previous merger. First of all this new structure is not a merger. That is probably one of the lessons from the previous deal — a merger — with Daimler (Daimler still has a stake of 20% in Chrysler and is not sure what to do with it). A logical reason to choose for an alliance above a merger is due to the severe market conditions which limits the budgets on both sides. But also the lessons learned with the previous merger help to this new approach: first a partnership (alliance) to remain flexible and open for any next step. A wait and see strategy without the expensive integration of systems and methodology that was the case in the previous deal.

What also has changed is the market-configuration. At the time of the Daimler-Chrysler merger the focus was still on growth whereas the focus is now more on “survival of the fittest” and (thus) building smaller cars can offer a competitive advantage.

Then the cultural lessons. Fiat and Chrysler offer a better match in complementing each others cultures where both producers complement each other in the overall product catalog; this was not too clear in the previous merger where both automotive producers were engaged in a similar type of business.

Culture becomes an issue when a single business is managed with different backgrounds. With a complementary business like in this case there is no cultural issue other than learning how smaller cars can be produced (on the Chrysler side) or how the Italian cars can be sold in the US.

Although then the question is, once the market is recovering and Chrysler knows how to build smaller cars, how will that fit the situation where also the Italian cars are to be sold in the same market? There remain some challenges. (Like that of the synergy-effect of 3.5 billion) But that’s why a partnership seems a good match for the moment. It leaves enough space for future developments on either side. It also fits the current risk-culture where what matters most is solving today’s problems. The future in the automotive industry is still far away. But this deal sheds some light on where things are heading.

Opportunities for Women in Automotive Industry – Interview With Tony Molla

Tony Molla is the Vice President of Communications for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) in Leesburg, VA. With over 35 years experience in the automotive service industry, Tony has held positions at all levels, including technician, service manager, parts store manager, new car sales and automotive technical editor writing service manuals for the Chilton Book Company. He has authored more than a dozen technical and car care manuals. Prior to joining ASE in January, 2000, Tony spent nine years as the Editorial Director of Motor Age magazine and Automotive Body Repair News (ABRN).

ASK PATTY: Can you tell us a little bit about your job and your position at The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)?

Tony: I am responsible for all Corporate, external and internal communications at ASE. This includes things like press releases, industry presentations, trade shows and our website content. I also manage our Consumer Outreach efforts, which include free articles sent out to consumer publications like newspapers and magazines across the country. I also manage our outreach programs which involve our sponsorships in several areas. The largest is our participation in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, where we sponsor Ted Musgrave’s No. 9 Team ASE/Germain Racing Toyota Tundra. We also have smaller sponsorships with the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, with a presence at air shows across the country, and a sponsorship of three Professional Bull Riders in the PBR Series. We also have a grassroots racing program called Team ASE which involves our ASE certified professionals who race their own vehicles. I am also the publisher of the ASE Tech News, our Corporate publication which goes to over 500,000 subscribers consisting mostly of ASE certified professionals and our industry supporters.

ASK PATTY: What does it mean to be ASE certified?

Tony: ASE Certification works like any other professional certification. Auto and truck professionals must take and pass an industry-developed competency test in one or more areas of expertise to become certified. There are eight tests in the auto series, for example. If an individual passes all tests in a series, they achieve Master Technician status. Being ASE certified means you have demonstrated the knowledge necessary to be proficient at a given task, plus have at least two years of hands-on repair experience. ASE also certifies parts professionals, service consultants, machinists, alternate fuels technicians, transit bus technicians, truck and collision technicians. It’s important to note that ASE certification is a voluntary program, so the individuals who have achieved it have also demonstrated a pride and professionalism that goes above and beyond the norm. These are the individuals you want working on your car.

ASK PATTY: Why are you promoting automotive careers to women? Are more women needed in the automotive field?

Tony: ASE has continuously promoted the value of an automotive career to both men and women, but the demand for women in particular has risen in recent years. This rise in demand has several reasons, not the least of which is the growing shortfall in qualified technical individuals available, but women have been proven to be particularly effective in the role of service consultant. As more and more women assume the role of primary caretaker of the family automobile, it’s becoming more important to improve the communications process at the service desk–and it’s been shown that female service consultants are very effective in that role. It’s also important to note that traditionally, women have made up about one percent of the technician workforce as well. In fact, there are a few shops out there that are exclusively staffed by women.

ASK PATTY: Can you tell us about your speaking program at schools? How are you educating and inspiring young women to consider a career in automotive?

Tony: I participate as a speaker in several Career Day events around the country each year. It’s really more a question of being invited back rather than a formal program by ASE. That said, I consider my time in front of young people some of the most important work I do. I speak with kids from the elementary to the high school level and always make it a point to spotlight the opportunities for women within the industry. Some of the best automotive diagnosticians I’ve met have been women, and the opportunities for a woman with a good technical background in the automotive industry is outstanding. These presentations I mention also use some brochures ASE has developed which outline some of the opporutnities within the industry for both male and female candidates.

ASK PATTY: Are women aware of the opportunities available to them in the automotive industry?

Tony: Actually, I’m continuously surprised at just how few women and men are aware of the wealth of opportunities available. We in the industry work hard to keep both Guidance Counselors and parents informed of what a great career choice it can be, but it’s clear we have some work yet to do to get the message out more widely.

ASK PATTY: What other types of jobs are available in automotive that aren’t service or mechanic’s jobs?

Tony: The possibilities are almost limitless. What I find interesting is how a technical background can open doors down the road in ways most never even imagine. I myself started out as an auto technician and worked part time while I went to college. Once I graduated, I found the earning potential much better in the service bay. In fact, it was largely my technical background, along with a degree in Journalism, that led to my current position. Along the way, I’ve held positions writing service manuals and as Editorial Director of two national trade magazines for auto and collision shops. But I’m just one example. There are opportunities in the automotive industry in sales, marketing, engineering, design, manufacturing, human resources, advertising, the list goes on and on. If you think about it, the automotive industry is a lot more than just selling and fixing cars.

ASK PATTY: What are some resources to women who are interested in starting a career in the automotive industry?

Tony: Perhaps the best resource is your local Technical Training program at either high school or junior college level. Getting involved in the automotive program can provide a deeper insight into the possibilities. There are also several initiatives within the automotive industry to recruit young people into the business. You can find out more by contacting the University of the Aftermarket, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, or some of the dedicated technical colleges like Universal Technical Institute or Wyo Tech, just to name a few. You can also contact us here at ASE with any questions. We’ll be happy to help in any way we can.

Thank you for the great interview Tony!