Leadership in Filtration – for this vision at MANN+HUMMEL project teams are sometimes willing to follow unusual and courageous paths. This is also the case with the development of a new type of inline fuel filter made from plastic. The significant challenges facing the development team were a change of philosophy at the supplied car producer, ambitious time and monetary constraints, and also the high quality requirements for a product from MANN+HUMMEL. But people are adept at using ingenuity to solve tasks and as a result Silke Miess, Christine Oprisch and Robin Ising were able to harness their technical expertise and inventive talent to prepare a filter ready for the market in record time. The fact that in the year of 2017 the millionth fuel filter was produced in plastic is a further success story for the filtration specialists from Ludwigsburg.
Inline filter from MANN+HUMMEL protects engines against contaminants
Today MANN+HUMMEL is proudly marketing a new and innovative product with the slogan “Strongly resistant”. The high performance fuel filter protects gasoline engines in German cars on the road in China. The background, as explained by project manager Silke Miess, is that: “In China there is always a risk of contaminated fuel, e.g. when the fuel comes from tanks which are not cleaned”. This means that the performance of a fuel filter in the land of the dragon has to be first class. The same applies to Brazil where the share of ethanol fuel leads to a heavy strain on the affected components. The task was to find a clean solution.
Plastic filter achieves same performance as predecessor produced in aluminum
Every journey has to start with small steps. Therefore, in the planning stage the team sounded out the exact requirements of a car producer for a fuel filter. In this respect a large German car producer had very specific requirements. Even though a fuel filter is in fact a wear part, MANN+HUMMEL should design the component to enable the giving of a lifetime guarantee. This new and ambitious approach was particularly a challenging task for Robin Ising. The engineer at MANN+HUMMEL made a significant contribution to the development of the fuel filter.
“I checked the specifications required for the filter, selected a filter medium from our range of media which is suitable for the application and through a series of tests validated the individual requirements of the car producer with regard to filtration performance, mechanical stability and endurance”, recollects the accomplished expert.
“The challenge was to realize a design in plastic which could deliver at least the same performance as the predecessor produced in aluminum”, notes Frank Pflueger, design team leader. Responsible designer Christine Oprisch was highly motivated to develop the internal and external requirements for a new product for MANN+HUMMEL customers. A high performance polyamide with a glass and carbon fiber component enabled the team to come closer to its ambitious target. The design of the “problem zones” of the plastic version of the filter were simulated using modern design tools.
Selective ribbing was added to allow a deformation of the component when under strain to within the limits of the material and as a result the final product became particularly robust and resistant. Additional improvements in the ultrasonic welding process eventually led to an extremely durable weld seam which is able to withstand high loads. A new MANN+HUMMEL product was born!
The development of a number of bracket variants allows the inline fuel filter in plastic to find application in many different model lines. “An ongoing process”, as project manager Miess explains. “Each facelift and new model makes our project more complex because each time a matching bracket has to be designed”. The team also found a new approach for this purpose: “With know-how, simulation possibilities and a certain amount of courage from the responsible persons in the project, we were able to integrate a number of bracket variants in the manufacture of the tools for the series production.
There were no loops for testing samples and everything had to be right for the first parts produced by the tools.” The change from aluminum to plastic and the removal of loops for testing samples also had a positive effect, namely an enormous reduction in production costs. “This is particularly decisive with such a high volume product”, explains Pflüger and adds: “This enables MANN+HUMMEL to offer a competitive price for a high quality product.”
In the meantime the inline fuel filter in plastic has joined the family of other high quality filtration products from MANN+HUMMEL. The production start of the filter, however, was associated with a certain element of risk. “At the time when we changed over to plastic, we had to ensure 100% availability from day one. The internal running change posed big challenges to our production in the Czech Republic”, remembers Miess. But progress often includes a risk and in this case the teams in Germany and the Czech Republic worked together constructively with a considerable amount of energy to ensure success.
They can be proud of the result. The new modular system consisting of a fuel filter with a variety of bracket positions represents a new generation of innovative products from the MANN+HUMMEL company. “The production techniques are very interesting for our company and could also be exploited in other projects”, speculates project manager Miess with a look to the future of “her” plastic filter. Until that time comes, a German car producer will remain the sole company to benefit from these engineering skills “made in Ludwigsburg”.