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Metric Automotive Engineering is well positioned to cater for large diesel locomotive engine component remanufacturing. With over 45 years’ experience in the engine component remanufacturing sector and an extensive customer base, the company’s success is based on a combination of its modern, well equipped facilities; its testing capabilities and the acumen and resident knowledge of its technical team.

Metric Automotive Engineering has always remained abreast of new technology and has an operating philosophy of upgrading its equipment suite to ensure that latest technology is implemented. “This ensures that we are able to meet or exceed OEM specification on remanufacturing dimensions. This is important as it influences the overall quality of the work undertaken and can affect the operational life of the component and the engine itself,” says Andrew Yorke, operations director of Metric Automotive Engineering.

Ongoing technician training at Metric Automotive Engineering allows the company to stay abreast of the latest developments in the sector.

Ongoing technician training at Metric Automotive Engineering allows the company to stay abreast of the latest developments in the sector.

The investment in new technology and larger capacity machines has positioned the company to expand its service offering to cater for the large diesel engines that power locomotives. This includes the remanufacture and repair of crankshafts, cam shafts, connecting rods, cylinder heads and cylinder blocks as well as ancillary bushings and housings. The loco engine component weights and lengths require specialised equipment to remanufacture accurately. This has resulted in a strategic investment in equipment that will fulfil these requirements.

Investment in technology

The acquisition of one of the largest crankshaft grinders put into service in Africa allows the company to service the growing trend towards larger diesel engines. Capable of grinding shafts of up to 4.7 metres long and with weights of up to 5 tons, this crankshaft grinder enables grinding of crankshafts from industrial compressors right through to the V16 locomotive diesel engine. Significantly this machine is paired with a set of compensators which dramatically improves the grinding tolerances achieved by helping to eliminate ovality and taper.

“There has not been a new machine of comparable size brought into the country for over 35 years. In addition to the crankshaft grinder which is now in service, a unique custom built crankshaft polisher, with a shaft capacity of 8 metres, will be commissioned during the third quarter of 2015. This custom built machine will allow us to offer a quicker turnaround time on crankshaft polishing as well as an improvement on journal surface finishes,” says Yorke.

The company also recently commissioned a new generation three axis CNC machining centre. This is the only machine of its kind in Africa and is capable of line boring, surfacing and blue-printing blocks over 6 metres in length.

Offering one of the most comprehensive ISO 9000:2000 accredited remanufacturing capabilities in Africa, the company is currently mid-way with the expansion of its facility. This will allow it to accommodate the increased demand for its services. “We are positioned as a world class refurbishment centre with facilities that are comparable to others anywhere in the world. We are able to refurbish large diesel engine components and offers services such as cylinder head remanufacture, cylinder block line boring, milling, honing and boring, camshaft grinding, crankshaft grinding, engine assembly and dynamometer testing,” Yorke points out.

In addition to standard remanufacturing processes, which are undertaken by a core of experienced personnel skilled, using the latest technology to produce a high quality remanufactured end product, the company also has the ability to salvage major components that would otherwise be rendered unserviceable.

Metric Automotive Engineering’s in-house repair processes have been tried and tested over the past 40 years and ongoing technician training allows the company to stay abreast of the latest developments in the sector. “We believe that our service levels are directly influenced by the capabilities and technical expertise of our team and as such we subject our employees to the latest trends in the market to provide our customers with best practice in terms of remanufacturing,” says Yorke.

Testing for success

All repairs and remanufacturing are complemented by an extensive testing programme that includes non-destructive crack testing, which is carried out on crankshafts to detect flaws and cracks that are not usually visible to the naked eye. These tests are conducted on a custom built machine which is capable of testing both large and long crankshafts with ease.

Prior to the decision being made to refurbish a crankshaft, it undergoes a full inspection process. Crankshaft inspection includes checking journal hardness, radius size, journal diameter and width. All data is recorded to facilitate an informed decision on the repair process.

All cylinder heads are pressure tested using heated immersion technology to detect coolant passage leaks. The cylinder heads are also crack tested using magnetic particle testing to detect any cracks on the combustion surface face.

All engines rebuilt by Metric Automotive Engineering are dyna tested on one of the company’s three in-house dynas. The company also undertakes dyna testing for outside customers.

“Metric Automotive Engineering might be a family-owned and-run company, but it has invested the resources and commitment of three generations over a period to become South Africa’s most comprehensively equipped diesel engine and component re-manufacturer. Leveraging our experience in similar markets has allowed us to gear up and provide an uncompromisingly high quality remanufacturing service to the diesel railway locomotive sector,” Yorke concludes.