Drive for the future

Published on Dec 2, 2019


PIA's modular production units include all the machinery and equipment needed to assemble and test powertrain units. Numerous powertrain technology developments are based on automated processes that PIA devised and developed. More about PIA's Powertrain Production Systems (PPS) from Jochen Prassl, powertrain expert from PIA Austria.

How long has PIA worked with powertrain units?

Our first powertrain project was completed over 20 years ago. In 1998, we were commissioned by Magna to build an assembly line for an all-wheel drive French compact van. Gradually, additional orders and customers were added. Today, the Austrian site is the powertrain competence center of the PIA Group and is one of the market leaders in the manufacturing of powertrain component plants in Europe and North America.

Who are PIA's customers?

Our customers include both established OEMs, such as BMW, Daimler and VW, as well as global Tier 1 suppliers. These include, American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM), Linamar, Magna and ZF.

Which components are manufactured on PIA systems?

We are a manufacturer of special machines and provide mounting systems for many assembly processes with requisite measurement processes to ensure the required quality. In the field of Powertrain, we specialize in the following components: transfer cases for the rear and front axles, transfer cases (transfer cases between the front and rear axles) and Power Take-Off Units (power take-offs for the front or rear axle).

What solution does PIA offer to produce at low cost?

The solution lies in modular production systems. The Powertrain Production System (PPS) module series from PIA combines innovation, quality and efficiency. Our modular production units comprise all machines required for assembly and testing of drive train aggregates: from welding cells to measuring stations to test benches. And best of all, PIA provides customers with turnkey solutions, i.e. turnkey systems from a single source.

Jochen Prassl (PIA Austria, Sales Manager)

"PIA provides the customer turnkey solutions, ie turnkey systems from a single source."

What special know-how does PIA have regarding powertrains?

First and foremost is our measurement technology expertise. Regardless of whether it is the measurement of friction values, heights or diameters we have the special know-how to work with great accuracy. Further experience includes, the setting of wheelsets (determination of the shims), the backlash measurement (backlash control), the laser welding as well as our end-of-line test benches, where clutch and structure-borne noise tests are performed.

Looking closer at laser welding, what sets you apart?

Take our LC300 Laser Welding Cell as an example. This cell is designed to weld axial and radial fillet welds with high precision and repeatability for large batches. The integrated rotary indexing table allows upstream or downstream processes, such as joining or laser-cleaning components that integrate the LC300. The flexibility of the LC300 continues with the usable components of all common manufacturers. Immediately after the laser welding cell, a flexible, non-destructive ultrasonic testing system enables an automated dip or dip-free inline weld inspection. Safe use of laser technology is essential for long-term success. Therefore, we offer solutions that ensure the quality and security of the processes.

What are the challenges when manufacturing assembly lines for powertrain components?

In addition to the extremely complex processes within a powertrain assembly line, customer requirements also represent a major challenge.  Demands for high quality standards, low rework and NIO rates as well as high availability of the assembly line are critical issues.

What about the cycle times of such assembly lines?

There is a relatively large bandwidth ranging from less than 20 seconds high volume assembly lines to over 5 minutes low volume lines. But neither the cycle time nor the size of an installation is decisive. Even more essential for assembly lines is quality, process reliability, efficiency and economy. These are the issues that matter most to our customers.

Does PIA Austria work with other PIA locations?

Yes! PIA is a one stop solution provider that leverages the strengths and capabilities of all its locations. We develop automation solutions and tailor-make them for the products and requirements of the customer. Organized in strategic business units operating with individual responsibility, synergy effects and know-how are ideally utilized within the global PIA network.