William Hughes has come to the aid of an automotive seat manufacturer, providing a spot-welded grid assembly to complete an under-seat storage unit for a market leading city van.
Such an intricate part had to meet stringent criteria for robustness and aesthetics, while assuring ease of integration into the under-seat structure.
The seat is manufactured by a global leader in automotive seating and associated electrical and electronic systems. This company had no problem forming the tray base and three of the sides as part of the larger welded structure, but the fourth side proved more intricate and the company saw value in subcontracting the assembly to a third party. William Hughes was able to demonstrate its capability in the area, and its ability to provide the part at a price that made it attractive thereby winning the contract.
The part comprises three mild steel wires running horizontally from one end of the storage tray to the other, with two u-shaped bent wires welded across them to complete the grid structure and form a robust fourth side to the storage tray. The grid assembly is spot-welded in two processes: first the straight wires and the bent wires are positioned into what will be the finished grid, loaded into a jig on a trolley and wheeled into the spot welder.
William Hughes constructed the jig especially for the project, assuring absolute consistency in appearance and performance of the finished part. With the assembly only required in fairly low volumes, the grid is welded manually. Spot welding was chosen in preference to other welding techniques as it provides a cleaner finish and the operator can carry out a visual check on the quality of the weld, assuring the performance of the finished part. With the grid assembly complete, end brackets are then spot-welded to the grid in the second process.
Once complete, William Hughes coats the grid assembly on a KTL black electrophoretic paint line, which deposits a shiny black coating just a few microns thick. This coating technology is used extensively within automotive applications, combining an aesthetically appealing finish with a high level of protection against even the most challenging environmental conditions. And because the coating is so thin, it doesn’t interfere with the functionality of a part.
The finished part is supplied to the seat manufacturer at its factory in France where it is attached to the seat structure to form the fourth side of the storage tray. By manufacturing the assembly at its plant in Bulgaria, William Hughes is able to take advantage of materials supplied locally and provides a beneficial location for the supply of finished parts to European manufacturers.
The success of the project has opened the door for William Hughes to quote on a number of similar applications for the next generation of the city van from the same automotive OEM.