Case Study: Sugiura Tekkojyo Co., Ltd.

Automated deburring of automotive parts

The newly released deburring tool is now being used on the primary manufacturing line of the plant

  • Sugiura Tekkojyo had been facing issues related to deburring as the machining of engine parts became increasingly complex. There was also a possibility that such issues would become causes of defects.
  • That’s when Sugiura Tekkyojo decided to implement XEBEC Brush (formerly known as Cutting Fiber) that had been newly released back then. They started using it after in-depth discussions.
  • This implementation has dramatically reduced the risk of burr remaining. It is now an important tool that they use on their plant’s primary manufacturing line.

“Burr” may lead to engine defects. XEBEC Brush solved this problem.

Sugiura Tekkojyo Co., Ltd. is based in Aichi prefecture, an area that has a thriving automotive industry, where they produce engine parts. Machining work is becoming increasingly complex, and the burr (*something like a hangnail that occurs on metal surfaces) that occurs as a result had been an issue. In some cases, the burr could even cause engine defects.... XEBEC Brush saved Sugiura Tekkojyo from this risk.

In this interview, we welcome Tatsuki Sugiura, President of Sugiura Tekkojyo, interviewed by XEBEC sales representative, Tomokazu Akao, to reflect on the reasons why Sugiura Tekkojyo decided to implement XEBEC Brush and the post-implementation effects.

Akao (XEBEC): We have been in business with Sugiura Tekkojyo for a long time. It was in 2005 that you considered implementing XEBEC Brush. The product was just released back then.

Tatsuki Sugiura, President, Sugiura Tekkojyo, Co., Ltd.

Sugiura (Sugiura Tekkojyo): Are you sure it was 2005...wasn’t it even earlier? Either ways, it is surely quite a while back (laughter). Originally, our plant machined the metal parts used in car engines, and one of the processes in this machining work was to “drill holes in the metal parts”. In the past, the normal procedure would be to simply drill a hole straight through, but we gradually started receiving more and more requests to drill complicated holes. These include holes that are twisted and holes that change in thickness midway through.

Akao: As the times change, the demands for machining change, too.

Sugiura: What troubled us was that the more complicated the shape became, the more burr occurred when drilling holes. Furthermore, these holes are the areas from where oil passes through when the engine is operating. That’s why, if there is burr remaining, which gets mixed in the oil and flows into the engine, it would cause an engine defect.

Akao: I hear that, at Sugiura Tekkojyo, you manufacture three to four million parts in a month. The fact that you handle so many parts explains why you cannot permit even the slightest burr remaining.

Sugiura: The parts that we machine at our company are also used in cars sold overseas. If there is an engine failure caused by leftover burr, it would lead to a worldwide recall and lawsuit. That’s an unimaginably large amount of compensation we would be dealing with. This is why the burr was a very urgent issue.
 

A chance encounter that grew out of the blue

Akao: These were the circumstances that led up to your implementation of XEBEC Brush. It all started when, President Sugiura, you were personally visiting a trade show at which we were exhibiting, and you saw our product at the XEBEC booth.

Sugiura: I had already seen many kinds of deburring tools until then, but I had yet to encounter one that satisfied me. However, the XEBEC Brush that I saw at the trade show left a strong impression on me, because its shape was completely different from other companies’ products. When I saw the XEBEC brush, a conviction sparked inside of me. “This shape will work”.

Akao: It was around this time that we had newly released the XEBEC brush, so we were very happy to have been contacted right after the trade show.

Sugiura: Yes, you quickly visited us in Aichi to give us a presentation. If you had come later, I don’t think we would have implemented your product (laughter). Back then, we were very frank with our requests to XEBEC, but you considered them earnestly. You treated us very well.

Akao: Thank you very much. President Sugiura, on the way back that day, you personally drove me to the station by car. I remember feeling very grateful for it.

Sugiura: I drove you simply because the station is far away. There was no special meaning to it (laughter). In the beginning, I had no clue what kind of company XEBEC was, but my first impression was very good, and perhaps that impression is still having an affect on our current relationship.

Safety is most important. We asked the usage instructions in detail to ensure safety.

Akao: We were in close contact from that day to realize the practical application of the tool.

Sugiura: We had been using an existing deburring tool until then, but the shape of XEBEC Brush was completely different, so I remember asking you for usage instructions in precise detail. I asked questions like “What is the recommended rotation speed” and “How fast does the tool wear down?”

Akao: You were especially particular about safety.

Sugiura: In running a plant, safety comes even before quality. We must avoid injuries of employees at all cost. But you provided us with a lot of information regarding safety, so we felt fine about that. Rather, midway into the implementation, we braced ourselves while using the XEBEC tool because “if someone gets injured at our plant, we would also damage XEBEC Brush’s reputation”. Although the product had only been released recently, we had never seen a product with so much potential.

Inside the Kira Plant of Sugiura Tekkojyo

Akao: Thank you for your consideration! I recall you also consulted us many times if you could use the tool in different ways. These questions were very precious for XEBEC, too, as it gave us many new ideas.

Sugiura: Because the tool is after all made of thin ceramic, we could not help but have worries that it would break. Moreover, the brush part is red or blue, so for better or for worse it would be self- evident if the brush were to break. That’s why we were worried and asked questions many times, but in reality the implementation went very smoothly.

Checking operation is reduced because the tool life can be known

Akao: So, this was how you implemented XEBEC Brush. Were there any effects as a result of implementation?

Sugiura: The greatest change was that, with XEBEC Brush, we could know the tool life. With the tool we were using until then, it was hard for us to tell how many pieces we could machine until the end of tool life. So, for example, we stopped the manufacturing line every 100 parts we completed, and we checked the degree of wear on the deburring tool. Each time, we would decide whether the tool can still be used. But, with XEBEC Brush, the pace of wear is clear, so we know how many pieces we can machine until the end of too life. It reduces the checking operation of the tool in the middle of the process.

Akao: As long as you collect data in the beginning, the pace of wear on XEBEC Brush is more or less consistent, so it is easier to predict the tool life.

XEBEC tool mounted on a special machine

Sugiura: At our plant, there are some parts that only take 20 seconds to process one piece. For these parts, even the checking operation for every 100 pieces would take up a lot of time. Needless to say, if the wrong decision is made in that checking operation, it would lead to problems as discussed earlier.... We are very relieved that we could resolve this issue.

Akao: I see. So you had those kinds of troubles because you were delivering the components at a very fast pace.

Sugiura: There are also occasions where our customers come to inspect our plant, and during such inspections we show them to the manufacturing line that uses the XEBEC Brush. It is our primary manufacturing line, which can be said to be the face of our plant. The color of the brush stands out, and our customers also react very positively to it.

Akao: Thank you very much. Our long-lasting partnership makes your words all the more gratifying.

Sugiura: But, looking back now, I honestly feel surprised that we were able to implement XEBEC Brush back then. It was a newly released product, so there was nothing that guaranteed it wouldn’t disappear in a matter of a few years (laughter). Still, I didn’t have any worries like that back then. I must have been really captivated by the product. I could see that you guys were also very excited about the new product (laughter).

Akao: It meant a lot for us, too, that you contacted us back then.

Sugiura: Either ways, there are not that many companies we keep in touch with for such a long time, so I hope we’ll be in touch from time to time in the future, too.

Akao: Of course! It would be our honor to continue being of help in the future. Thank you very much for your time today.

Left:Mr.Akao, Xebec Technology Co., Ltd. , Right:Mr.Sugiura, Sugiura Tekkojyo Co., Ltd.

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