Siemens-VDO redesigned the way their low-pressure electronic gasoline fuel injectors are designed for manufacture and made. Quality injectors may be crucial to engine performance and limiting emissions, but tend toward commodity. The viability of the company’s commitment to the injector business, and the Newport News, Virginia, facility, where the injectors would be made, depended on whether the process could be completed without resorting to labor-intensive methods or the relocation of production.
Siemens undertook an extraordinarily thorough benchmarking both of injector design and production processes. On the product side, they developed a modular design for manufacture that uses 30% fewer parts while eliminating internal O-rings, a perennial source of quality problems. Finally, the modular design allows them to concentrate engineering resources on injector performance, rather than on packaging and other non-value-added aspects.
Process innovations were central. Continuous-wave laser welding and other new manufacturing techniques eliminated most machining, which is intrinsically both slow and dirty. The result was a higher quality product and lower cycle times. Modularity permitted the use of digital gauging, making their production and testing equipment highly flexible. Combined with a careful analysis of the assembly process, they developed a production design that uses 50% less space, is highly scalable, and can be readily implemented in new locations. Indeed, this process is now in Italy and China. Newport News is now an example of successful benchmarking outcomes within Siemens Automotive.
The first customer for these injectors was Renault, in November 2003. Subsequent DEKA VII use is by BMW, PSA, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford. DEKA VII has been a success story for Siemens-VDO, and has solidified its position in the injector business.