SetcoA joint venture between Setco Automotive Ltd. (Setco) and Spainbased Lingotes Especiales SA, Lava Cast Pvt. Ltd. will supply world-class CV clutch parts to Setco.

Story by: Rajesh Rajgor

It is early afternoon and I have completed the tour of Lava Cast’s sprawling facility at Kalol, some 50 kms from Vadodara, Gujarat. Adjacent to Setco’s clutch manufacturing plant, the Lava Cast facility has just begun manufacturing cast parts for Setco’s consumption. As production picks up and teething issues are resolved, the facility will produce castings, machined fully, and in ready to assemble form for consumption by Setco in the manufacture of its CV clutch systems. It would have been six months after the Lava Cast facility began production. A foundry, the installed capacity of Lava Cast facility according to R.K Ghosh, the managing director, is 2000-tonnes per month. Of the 2000-tonnes, 800-tonnes will be consumed by Setco. Producing clutch components in grey iron and ductile iron like pressure plates, covers, intermediate plates, adapter rings and gear rings, the dimensions of the castings vary from 170 mm diameter to 430 mm diameter. To make raw cast parts ready for fitment, a machine shop carries out the finishing operations. “The machine shop carries out the finishing and balancing operations as per the design and drawings provided by Setco,” mentions Ghosh.

With 800-tonnes worth of cast parts pledged for Setco, the company is looking at pledging the remaining capacity to supply cast parts to other automotive customers. Ghosh avers, “We will scout for customers in the automotive industry who require quality machined castings for manufacturing various automotive components.” The state of Gujarat has some automotive OEMs and tier suppliers, which could ensure business. With the Ford plant at Sanand gaining stream, other automotive OEMs that have invested or are in the process of investing include Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and AMW. For Setco, the need to set up a foundry was necessitated by the lack of good quality and adequate quantity of machined casting. The foundry was actually set-up last year. The industry then was facing a low period. As production picks up, the talk of setting up a second foundry is already on. “We haven’t decided whether the new foundry would be similar to this, or have a vertical moulding line or a horizontal moulding line. The output of casting is always high in a vertical foundry and involves a flask, whereas a horizontal moulding line can be with or without a flask,” Ghosh informs. One thing that Ghosh is certain about is that the new foundry will be state-of-the-art too, and just like the current line. The current line is equipped with DISA machines along with the best furnaces and auto pour machines from Inductotherm.

Explains Ghosh that a typical casting process involves melting, moulding, pouring and finishing. The charge mix is usually of CRC scrap, pig iron, foundry returns (rejected pieces) and alloys. All this is poured together into the melting furnace and a sample coin is extracted and sent to Spectro lab for quality analysis. Pouring temperature, magnesium, copper and the quality of mould is measured. If cleared it is sent for moulding and finishing. Post the finished product, the casting is machined as per the description provided, and then supplied to the Setco assembly lines.

Making of a CV clutch assembly
The Setco clutch plant adjacent to the Lava Cast facility is a modern unit. The pressure plate and the cover assembly comes to the line as a ‘balanced’ entity. The cover assembly could be of either type – cast or pressed sheet metal. Pressure plates are made of cast iron, and are strong and sturdy. The clutch lever is assembled on to the pressure plate, and the assembly is mounted on a rig. Springs are mounted on the pressure plate at different locations and tested for run-out and lift according to the specs. They are subjected to balancing. If they are found to be out of balance, additional mass is removed by drilling. If there is a need to add mass, weights are added. To ensure that there is no undesired vibration, which could lead to subsequent failure or premature wear of a clutch system or a related component, a clutch assembly has to be dynamically balanced. Clutch cover is attached and the pressure plate assembly checked for balance. After balancing, the pressure plate assembly is sent for final inspection. The inspection results are entered into a log book. On the driven plate (DP) assembly line, for the manufacture of an organic clutch plate, first a disc ring is fitted and then riveted with organic facing. In the case of ceramic clutch plates, the disc plate is ‘surface’ prepared and rivetted with ceramic buttons. The returning plate is fitted, and covers the hub and has springs fitted in it. These springs carry out the task of balancing and negating the risk of ‘run-out’. The clutch plate is subjected to balancing, run-out tests among others.

Leading supplier of clutch systems for CVs
The setting up of Lava Cast adjacent to its clutch system manufacturing plant at Kalol marks a logical extension of capabilities for Setco. More so because Setco’s major manufacturing set-up is at this location despite having a fairly balanced global footprint with another manufacturing facility at Sitarganj, Uttarakhand, and at UK and USA each. At Kalol, Setco has also invested in an R&D center. While the emergence of radical change in clutch technology may not be expected anytime soon, Setco, incorporated in 1982, as a leading manufacturer of clutch systems for commercial vehicles is set to derive advantage from the arrival of new transmission technologies like the automated manual transmission many Indian commercial vehicles are coming to employ. Employing over 1200 people, the company, marketing its products under the brand name of Lipe, caters to the requirements of OEMs like Tata Motors, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, Ashok Leyland, MAN India, Mahindra, Volvo Eicher and Asia Motor Works. The processes of the company are TS 16949, ISO 14001, OSHAS 18001 and VDA 6.3 certified.

Catering to an estimated 85 per cent of M&HCV clutch demand in India, Setco has invested in a R&D center at UK too. It has also associated itself with automotive sporting events like the Tata Prima T1 racing championship. With an annual turnover of over Rs. 500 crore, the company also manufactures clutches for hydraulic products for the construction equipment industry and precision engineering components like complex and deep drawn pressings, forgings and castings that are machined and heat treated. With Lava Cast set to support Setco in the production of world-class clutch parts, it is only a matter of time before the leading clutch manufacturer strengthens its bottomline, and taps new markets as well as new segments. In Setco’s future endeavours, Lava Cast is set to play an important role.

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