Tag Archives: METRIC AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING (PTY) LTD

UPS ADDS TO SMOOTH OPERATIONS AT METRIC AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING

Ensuring quality customer service even during power outages forms part of Metric Automotive Engineering’s sustainable business strategy. The company recently invested in an uninterruptable power system (UPS) at its state-of-the-art technical facility in Germiston to ensure just this.

While the company has always had its own standby generators to provide power during load-shedding or utility outages, Metric Automotive Engineering operations director Andrew Yorke explains that this was still not ideal.

“The short delay between utility power failing and the generators kicking in could have negative effects on our workflow,” says Yorke. “The brief stoppage of our sophisticated machines could lead to damage to major components which are in the middle of a high-precision machining process.” 

He notes that this could not only damage components but invariably resulted in delays due to the unexpected rework required, which all involved additional costs. The new UPS system – which includes two separate UPS units – provides an effective solution to these challenges. 

“Both UPS units are fed by a specialised solar inverter system, giving us a bridging system that allows our operations to continue unimpaired,” he says. 

The one UPS provides uninterrupted electricity supply to the critical machinery at Metric Automotive Engineering, powering the four crankshaft grinders, the seven reboring surfacing machines and the CNC lathes. The other UPS supports the administrative side of the business, ensuring that there are no server outages. This facilitates smooth and continuous access to information and communication. 

The company’s self-sufficiency has been further enhanced by the implementation of an extensive rainwater harvesting system to collect water for all its cleaning processes. Yorke explains that some 60 000 litres of water can be harvested from a single substantial downpour of rain. 

“This water is stored in tanks above and below ground, from where it is supplied into the operation by pressure pumps,” he says.

With 50 years of experience, Metric Automotive Engineering is South Africa’s most comprehensively equipped diesel engine component remanufacturer. It refurbishes large diesel and gas engine components and offers services such as cylinder head remanufacture, cylinder block line boring, milling, honing and boring. It also grinds camshaft and crankshafts, assembles engines and conducts dynamometer testing.  

SOUTH AFRICA HAS WORLD CLASS GAS ENGINE COMPONENT REMAN SKILLS

Leveraging gas as a power source is an exciting prospect for Africa, and offers not only reasonable costs but will have a lower environmental impact. While natural gas is generally a clean burning fuel, gas generated from landfill sites is considered a much harsher application for engines.

Andrew Yorke, operations director at Metric Automotive Engineering, says this is because it is difficult to control the level of contaminants in gas that emanate from landfill sites. 

Yorke says that the relatively poor quality of gas requires advanced ignition monitoring systems in the engine. In addition, the wear rates remain high due to the highly abrasive post-combustion residue, despite filtering of the gas.

“This means that gas engines operating in these applications require more frequent maintenance and the service intervals will also be reduced,” he says. “As a comparison, with natural gas cylinder heads will need to be replaced every 20,000 to 30,000 hours, while with engines burning landfill gas attention will be required as early as every 5,000 hours.”

He notes that there is no real cause for concern as South Africa has a world class engine component remanufacturing capability in Metric Automotive Engineering. Ready access locally to the requisite skills and cutting edge equipment needed to optimise the lifespan and reliability of these gas engines is a major advantage to these industries, he says. 

The company has been in operation for more than 50 years, with its decades of experience underpinning the remanufacturing of both diesel and gas engine components to meet the exacting original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards.

Yorke says that Metric Automotive Engineering has already been conducting work for customers in the both the natural gas and landfill gas segments, where the generating capacity of the engines is usually between 1 MW and 10 MW. 

The company also provides customers with service exchange units. This not only enhances efficiencies in the maintenance process and reduces downtime, it also allows customers to have remanufactured components such as cylinder head assemblies readily available when worn components need replacement.

METRIC AUTOMOTIVE CLEANING COMPONENTS FOR OEMS

Identifying needs within its customer base and addressing these sets Metric Automotive Engineering apart in the diesel engine component remanufacturing sector. The company recently announced it now offers a cleaning service to OEMS for diesel engine components.

“We found that few OEMs have the equipment, resources or time to adequately clean components to the correct level of cleanliness required. This prompted us to offer this service to our customers,” says Andrew Yorke, operations director of Metric Automotive Engineering.

Cleanliness of diesel engine components cannot be underestimated prior to assessing the components for repair or remanufacturing work. Yorke says it is critical components are cleaned to a certain specified level of cleanliness to facilitate accurate inspections to be done.

“By offering this ancillary service we will remove some of the frustration from OEMS, while at the same time drive up efficiencies in the diesel engine component remanufacturing sector,” he says.

Metric Automotive Engineering has a long and impressive track record remanufacturing heavy diesel engine components across a host of industries. The company offers services which include cylinder head remanufacture, cylinder block line boring, milling, honing and boring, camshaft grinding, crankshaft grinding, engine assembly and dynamometer testing.

MAINTENANCE AND REMANUFACTURE NOW KEY TO SURVIVAL

Facing perhaps the toughest economic conditions in living memory, South African businesses using diesel engines must refocus on preventative maintenance and quality remanufacturing.

This will ensure that their engines deliver optimal uptime and business continuity at a time when margins are being continually squeezed, says Andrew Yorke, operations director at Germiston-based Metric Automotive Engineering.

“Catastrophic failure of a diesel engine in these tough times can be fatal for the profitability of a project or even a company,” says Yorke. “More than ever, reliable and economical engine operation is now key to survival.”

He warns that cutting corners on maintenance programmes – which he has witnessed among many fleet operators – would inevitably lead to failures and costly unplanned downtime. An important aspect of preventative maintenance is regular oil sampling, for instance, which helps to identify issues such as coolant contamination and other factors that lead to high wear on engines and components.

“Companies need to empower their technical departments to ensure that best practices in fleet maintenance are applied,” he says. “This is not a function that can be devolved to a purchasing department.”

With the early warning that preventative maintenance provides, diesel engine users can plan ahead for timeous and cost effective repair or remanufacturing of large diesel engine components at experienced and well-equipped facilities like Metric Automotive Engineering. This world class service is particularly relevant with the Rand exchange rate contributing further to the high cost of importing new engines and components.

With 50 years of experience, this South African company refurbishes large diesel engine components and offers services such as cylinder head remanufacture, cylinder block line boring, milling, honing and boring. It also grinds camshaft and crankshafts, assembles engines and conducts dynamometer testing. 

“Staying abreast of the latest technology means we are one of Africa’s leading crankshaft grinding facilities, with capability to grind shafts up to 4,7 metres long and up to two tonnes in weight,” says Yorke.

It deals with crankshafts from industrial compressors through to V16 locomotive diesel engines. The well-equipped workshop houses two state-of-the-art, three-axis CNC machines – the only ones of their type in Africa – for line-boring, surfacing and blue-printing of engine blocks up to six metres in length.

He highlights that remanufacturing large diesel engine components in South Africa currently makes even better sense because many replacement parts are no longer available ex-stock in the country. These have to be shipped in at extra cost, or even flown in if the situation is urgent.

Diagnosis and fault analysis on fuel injection systems is another benefit Metric Automotive Engineering offers its customers – through its sister company Reef Fuel Injection Services. This includes the remanufacturing of the latest generation of fuel systems, saving companies substantial costs on new components.

ECONOMIC CRISIS BRINGS DIESEL ENGINE COMPONENT REMANUFACTURE INTO ITS OWN

As South Africa’s depressed economy is further hammered by the Covid-19 lockdown, large diesel engine owners can be thankful that the country retains world-class diesel engine component remanufacturing facilities.

Key sectors like rail, mining, power generation and marine transport rely on large, hard-working diesel engines, according to Andrew Yorke, operations director at Germiston-based Metric Automotive Engineering.

“In times like these, customers are forced to take a far closer look at the cost of keeping these assets operational,” says Yorke. “The quality remanufacture of large diesel engine components is an ideal way of doing this, as it offers considerable savings over new replacement.”

The local remanufacturing option now makes even more sense as the global pandemic fuels exchange rate volatility and disrupts some cross-border supply chains.

“There has been a regrettable trend toward the unprotected importation of remanufactured diesel engines, which threatens the vital remanufacturing element of our engineering sector,” he says. “The worsening economic conditions are likely to highlight the benefits of using local expertise and services.”

While purchasing decisions tend to be driven by the upfront cost, he warns that the right choice of remanufacture can be the difference between future success and failure. In many cases, diesel engines are mission-critical to business sustainability, so their reliability should be of paramount concern to owners.

“Customers must ensure not only that they get a competitive price for remanufacture of large diesel engine components, but that their service provider has the necessary skills and equipment – coupled with a quality system meeting international standards,” he says. “Original equipment manufacturers design their components to be remanufactured several times, but this must be done to their exacting specifications.”

This quality is ensured by Metric Automotive Engineering, as the most comprehensively equipped diesel engine component remanufacturer in the country. Its facilities keep abreast of the latest technology and trends, with capability to handle large diesel engine components. With one of the leading crankshaft grinding facilities in Africa, it can grind shafts up to 4,7 metres long and up to two tonnes in weight.

“This allows us to grind crankshafts from industrial compressors right through to the V16 locomotive diesel engine,” says Yorke. The workshop also includes two state-of-the-art, three-axis CNC machines – the only ones of their type in Africa. These perform line-boring, surfacing and blue-printing of engine blocks up to six metres in length.

Yorke says it is time that South Africa’s high-value diesel engine component remanufacturing capability was recognised as a strategic national asset, which also contributed environmentally to the effective ‘recycling’ of engines and their components.

METRIC AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING SUPPORTING ESSENTIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS DURING COVID-19 IMPOSED LOCKDOWN

Metric Automotive Engineering is committed to supporting customers who are providing essential services during the current lockdown restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19, while still meeting the required safety regulations.

The company, a leading large diesel engine component remanufacturer, has been granted Essential Services status and is fully operational with a reduced staff complement.

Operations director, Andrew Yorke says companies that have been declared as an essential service need to know that their own support services are fully operational and ready to ensure that they stay on track. This includes all those in transport logistics from vehicles moving essential items such as foodstuffs and medical equipment through to the mining and power generation companies.

“For our current customer base as well as any prospective customers we continue to offer access to quality diesel and gas engine component remanufacturing. All work is done to OEM specifications and ISO quality standards and there is no doubt our customers can continue to rely on us for all their engine component remanufacturing requirements,” Yorke says.

“The safety of both our people and customers is our first priority, and we have implemented additional safety measures aligned with the government regulations and guidelines to protect and keep the team safe and healthy,” Yorke says. “Visiting customers are requested to respect and adhere to our safety procedures, which can be found on our website.”

“As the situation changes on a daily basis, it is imperative that we each do as much as we can to ensure that critical elements of the economy continue to move, while keeping as many people safe. The team at Metric Automotive Engineering fully supports the lockdown restrictions that the government has put in place, and we understand the critical role that we play in keeping the engine running,” Yorke concludes.

CRANKSHAFT FOR CUMMINS QSK 78 DIESEL ENGINE GETS A TURN

Currently Metric Automotive Engineering is remanufacturing a crankshaft belonging to an 18 cylinder Cummins QSK 78 diesel engine. This 4000 hp diesel engine component, 2.7 metres in length, is easily accommodated on the company’s crankshaft polishing machine.

The large engine powers a rigid frame dump truck in an open cast mining operation, and as can be expected works under arduous operating conditions.

Andrew Yorke, operations director at Metric Automotive Engineering, explains that the engine had reached its scheduled overhaul hours and the engine components had come into the facility for assessment and remanufacturing to OEM standards, where necessary.

The diesel engine component’s including the crankshaft, camshaft, conrod, block and heads arrived at Metric Automotive Engineering’s well-equipped facility where they were cleaned using specialised high pressure steam and ultrasonic cleaning processes.

“Cleaning is vital to facilitate visual inspection and following this, components are sent to the dedicated component sections at our facility where a skilled automotive machinist conducts a full assessment on the integrity of the component using OEM specifications and guidelines,” Yorke says.

In this particular instance, the crankshaft integrity was favourable and the component only requires surface polishing of the journals. Yorke says this a great example of an effective lubrication filtration system and scheduled preventative maintenance helping to reduce long term operating costs by preventing wear and damage to the crankshaft. This results in a less costly remanufacturing process being required to return the crankshaft to OEM specification.

Metric Automotive Engineering has a comprehensively equipped remanufacturing facility which can handle large diesel and gas engine components with ease. Competent technical personnel receive ongoing training and development to ensure they are kept abreast of the latest technology. ISO driven quality standards and a high level of accountability ensures that customer receive remanufactured components that meet and often exceed OEM specification.

EMPOWERING WOMEN IN ENGINEERING THROUGH B-BBEE

Working to embrace the spirit of transformation and development, Metric Automotive Engineering has affirmed its Level 4 status in terms of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) requirements.

In an exciting recent deal, the Intombazane Development Trust has invested in the Germiston-based specialist in diesel and gas engine component remanufacture. This new shareholder recognised the value in the company, including its continuous investment in the latest technology and its commitment to the local economy. The Intombazane Development Trust also appreciated the company’s strong ethos of skills development. The involvement of the trust will further enhance this important work, by supporting the entry of black women into engineering fields through study bursaries.

“It is gratifying to see our interventions uplifting previously disadvantaged candidates, focusing on learners at tertiary level,” Andrew Yorke, operations director at Metric Automotive Engineering, says. “The skills they are learning are vital to the South African economy, and will certainly transform their lives for the better.”

Yorke highlights the importance of genuine transformation initiatives by the private sector to fill gaps in the market and support economic growth. This means training historically disadvantaged individuals in areas where their academic success can be rewarded by employment and personal growth in productive jobs.

“There is no time for window-dressing while our economy struggles to create the necessary opportunities for young people,” he says. “We are embracing the real spirit of B-BBEE, which is not to empower individuals who already have access to opportunities, but rather to give a chance to those who haven’t had an opportunity before.”

He emphasises that the beneficiaries of the recent deal are previously disadvantaged women. Through the company’s training initiatives, it is furthering the opportunities that exist in fields like the local remanufacturing of large engine components.

Metric Automotive Engineering has long been a leader in diesel and gas engine component remanufacture, leveraging the latest technology and decades of experience in this sector. With its Level 4 B-BBEE status, customers receive 100% spend recognition for any work they procure with the company.

Its modern workshop facilities are equipped for a range of testing, grinding, reprofiling, reboring, surfacing and other specialised engineering services. Work is conducted on large diesel and gas engine components including cylinder heads, cylinder blocks, crankshafts and conrods. Compete engines are overhauled and assembled in-house, and are dyna-tested on one of the company’s three dynamometers.

About the Intombazane Development Trust
The Intombazane Development Trust is a non-profit organisation owned by black women, whose beneficiaries are young black women under the age of 29. It is an independent trust that maximises the use of its capital for educational purposes.

ENGINE IMPORTS THREATEN SA’S ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY

South Africa needs to wake up quickly to the dire socio-economic impacts of simply importing new engines rather than remanufacturing existing components locally.

According to Andrew Yorke, operations director at Germiston-based Metric Automotive Engineering, large diesel engines are gradually becoming uneconomical to repair.

“We have already seen this trend in light commercial vehicles, where complete engines are now imported as opposed to remanufacturing individual components,” says Yorke. “The remanufacture of components was a viable industry twenty years ago, but that market has long disappeared.”

The business focuses on the remanufacture of components for large diesel engines that drive the rail, mining, power generation and marine sectors, and Yorke says he is seeing the same disturbing trend in these segments. He notes that 30 years ago, some 80% of the cost of an engine overhaul would be for engineering and 20% would be for the parts. Today, that percentage split is exactly the opposite.

“This is because the OEMs are pricing their parts to the aftermarket in a way that makes remanufacturing less and less viable,” he says. This is not because the engine is designed to be thrown away. On the contrary, its major components – cylinder head, engine block, conrods, crankshaft and camshaft – are all designed to be remanufactured more than once. It is the other wear parts like seals, bearings, liners, pistons and gaskets that need regular replacement.

Yorke warns that if South Africa no longer remanufactures engine components, the country will no longer have a use for its automotive engineering capacity and expertise. But these skills have applications well beyond this sector.

“The knock-on effects of losing our remanufacturing sector will be severe,” he says. “Just as the capital invested in equipment becomes wasted, so the skills and expertise will be lost to the industry.”

He notes that there is constant skills development required to operate the modern engineering technology in Metric Automotive Engineering’s facility. If the country is no longer remanufacturing components to rebuild engine components, then those jobs in assembling engines also become superfluous.

“As the skills for engine assembly disappear, so do the skills related to the testing of engines,” he says. “Engine testing is a complex set of skills capable of problem-solving and fault-finding, and these experts often become field service and maintenance technicians.”

He warns that should it become common practice to only import new engines rather than remanufacture engines and engine components, the skills required to maintain these engines will also end up needing to be imported.

“As a country, we need to be more strategic about our economic choices, so that we support sectors that are strong, and where skills and jobs can be developed,” says Yorke. “Automotive engineering focused on engine component remanufacture is one such sector.”

“Instead, we should be protecting industries that make it possible to remanufacture engine components,” he says. “This means remanufacturing the worn component to ‘as-new’ specification, assembling the components in a competent manner, and testing them to ensure optimal performance.”

INVESTMENT BY METRIC STRATEGIC CONTRIBUTION TO ENGINEERING CAPACITY

In a boost to South Africa’s engineering capacity and quality, Metric Automotive Engineering has added a new-generation Rottler three-axis CNC machining unit to its workshop. Featuring linear rails for greater accuracy, the machine is the first of its kind in Africa, according to Metric Automotive Equipment operations director Andrew Yorke.

“This technology represents a significant advance in our industry,” says Yorke. “It enables us to conduct wireless probing for measuring and set-up, as well as using CAD drawings to machine components to high levels of precision.”

The scale of the new machine allows it to work on engines up to 20 cylinders in size. The three-axis capacity facilitates the standard machining processes for engine block remanufacture, and also enables salvage repairs. The new unit joins the company’s two larger three-axis machines already in operation. The machines are dedicated mainly to the rail sector.

“A locomotive engine spends considerable time on our machining centres, so our new addition provides much-needed additional capacity for other work,” Yorke says. “On any given day, we can now have up to five V18 engines being machined at our facilities side by side.”

Yorke highlights the value of the new Rottler unit in the continuous quality improvement of local remanufacturing capacity and expertise. As a function of process repeatability and machining accuracy, the quality of output is being constantly raised to the benefit of local customers.

“Our investment in machines like these represents a strategic contribution in support of local original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and state-owned enterprises (SOEs),” says Yorke. “This fosters the country’s capacity to conduct large engine remanufacturing, which is vital to affordability, economic growth, job creation and conserving our foreign exchange.”

Rottler equipment is not for general engineering purposes but is specifically designed for high-precision machining of engine blocks, he emphasises. This ensures that the quality of remanufactured engines complies in every respect with OEM’s demanding specifications and standards.

The focus of Metric Automotive Engineering’s remanufacturing technology is on large engines used in sectors such as rail, earthmoving, mining, power generation and marine.