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SBQ STEEL BLOG


TimkenSteel develops supply chain win for high-performance automotive engines

TimkenSteel Vertical Caster

When an automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) needs a solution, TimkenSteel comes prepared to offer one. In the case of one customer’s new high-performance, four-cylinder engine, this effort earned TimkenSteel the title of supplier of choice for the engine’s bearing-grade steel.

New technology + higher performance = need for cleanness and consistency

With the new engine’s need for high power in a compact, four-cylinder package, the customer was concerned with steel cleanness. After encountering quality claims with other steel suppliers, where large inclusions were found in critical areas, they were looking for a supplier that could offer consistent chemistry, microstructure and hardness to meet their stringent durability test criteria without sacrificing performance, while achieving optimum tool life and machine tool cycle times.

Striking the right balance of satisfying both performance and manufacturing goals while maintaining consistency was a significant aspect to the success of this program. TimkenSteel brought that balance to the table, and the OEM was interested.

Developing a unique, cost-effective value-add supply chain

The customer had the ability to process long product in-house – but it required more floor space, material handling, saws and turning equipment than they wanted to input. Instead, they opted to source billets – and were looking for a solution that would allow for process flexibility.

In response, TimkenSteel proposed cast blooms of bearing grade steel from the jumbo bloom vertical caster at Faircrest, heat-treated in-house at TimkenSteel with minimal investment, setup or modification to existing equipment, offering savings over outsourcing. The heat-treated bars would then be shipped to one of the company’s supply chain partners for rough turn and polish, cutting to length and deburring, as well as washing and rust prevention application.

The total package represented a true value-add supply chain, saving the customer time and money. The OEM liked what they saw; they moved forward, and after trial orders for beta builds in 2014 and formal quotations in 2015, TimkenSteel received the award for the business in late 2015.

Satisfying customer performance expectations

TimkenSteel shipped more than 20,000 gamma parts during 2016 and 2017, and pre-production builds took place from mid-2017 through the first half of 2018. Our core team remained on hand to address the OEM’s questions and concerns, and even offered input on improving machinability. Ultimately, the team’s expertise helped the customer resolve very specific issues, reflecting our level of experience and commitment to the project.

Achieving growth with a core product offering

With production of the engine beginning in mid-2018, TimkenSteel is in full swing with steel manufacturing for the program.

This technology and these engines are significant portion of the OEM’s overall engine portfolio, which is  substantial business that we’re very proud to be a part of.