Reducing Dependency on Special Service Tools

Our campaign on service tools provides another example of our team's competency in quickly adapting our process toolset to deliver ever-increasing value for our customers.

Ian Smith, Operations Manager, USE* Automotive
Digital serviceability support from USE* Automotive promotes and enculturates a design for serviceability mindset into product development activities. USE* classify these services as SERP (Service Evaluation and Repair Process), reflecting both the competent expertise that we provide to support this function and our out of the box process toolset that we can deploy and adapt to any of our clients’ product development PLM systems.

In this case, our emphasis was to deliver a comprehensive strategy to avoid or minimise the need for special service tools on future vehicle designs.

The Challenge

A prestigious automotive OEM client for USE* Automotive classifies special service tooling (SST’s) as two main types:

  • critical service tools are for processes such as locking the engine during timing procedures, separating suspension joints and removing or installing bearings
  • non-critical special service tools are in essence created to work around a poor design for service. For example, to gain purchase on a poorly positioned fastener that doesn’t allow for service access with a standard tool, or on a quick-release hose connection that is located with insufficient hand access

Currently it is likely that when a new powertrain is incorporated into existing vehicle programmes, or for new vehicle programmes, additions to the catalogue of essential special service tools will be necessary. Historically the need for a new non-essential special service tool (SST) was frequently established during the workshop manual authoring process. This resulted in an SST being created to sidestep a poor design for service.

In an effort to reduce costs and improve reliability, USE* responded to a directive from our client’s senior management to design future powertrain and vehicle programmes without the need for new special service tooling or equipment for any service procedures.

The Solution

For all of our clients USE* SERP engineers collate or help collate a digital tooling catalogue that incorporates 3D CAD data for all the client’s existing special service tools currently available to dealerships.

When deployed to support a new vehicle programme, SERP engineers will assess the new programme assumptions early in the programme development lifecycle and evaluate the existing special tool catalogue against the new programme content and a comparable vehicle in market.

In this way, a list of existing special service tools and service operations requiring special service tools that are likely to apply to the new programme is compiled.

The objective for the SERP engineer is to ensure that the package environment on the new vehicle does not prevent the use of the existing special tool, or allows the requirement for any kind of SST to be deleted. With this in mind, each listed service operation is then evaluated as soon as CAD data maturity allows.

The results of this evaluation are communicated to the relevant design teams in order to achieve continued package protection for the existing tooling, or a design or package change in order to accommodate an existing tool, or to eliminate the requirement for a special tool altogether. SERP engineers will also engage with design engineers to ensure that there is an awareness of special tooling requirements and that these are incorporated into the new programme.

For new components that are known to require critical special tooling, the SERP engineer will engage with designers to ensure that the requirement for a special tool is considered during the design process. The objective in this instance is to either design out the need for the new component to require a special tool, or, for applications where this is not achievable, to ensure that the new component design is compatible with existing tooling.

Its Benefits

Through engaging with design teams from a much earlier stage in the development life cycle than has been previously achieved, it has been possible to support the requirement for a reduction in new special tooling.

By providing digital representations of existing special and standard workshop tooling, and evaluating their application in collaboration with the design teams, it is possible for new components to be developed to either include design features that allow the use of standard tools, or when this is not possible, developed with design and package features to support existing special tooling.

This will drive the desired reductions in new tool design costs and the associated reduction in tool purchasing costs, and help improve repair quality for our client.

Our Achievements

As with all of our services, our aim is to save our clients money by working to deliver results strategically and architecturally, rather than tactically.

For example, for one of our client’s high profile product ranges, through SST assessment during the throughout the product development lifecycle, changes have been driven to the suspension geometry on all future products to accept an existing SST for the purpose of separating ball joints.

Behind the technical expertise, the key achievement from USE* Automotive has been to implement comprehensive process measures that will meet our client’s objectives not only in the immediate term, but in perpetuity.

Case Studies

Body Bracing Collaboration

Body Bracing Collaboration

USE* avert warranty from late design changes
Special Service Tools

Special Service Tools

Reducing SST numbers and dependency
Fuel Pump Module Access

Fuel Pump Module Access

Early collaboration averts fuel tank R&I
Wheel Arch Liner

Wheel Arch Liner

A simple solution delivers a big warranty savi...

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