Proton has officially unveiled its new engine assembly line at Tanjung Malim, at an exclusive event for invited media and guests yesterday. The new facility will produce the Geely-Volvo-developed 1.5 TGDi (Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection) engine, marking the first time it has been assembled outside of China.
The new assembly line has been operational since April this year, with the engines produced already being used on the recently-unveiled 2022 Proton X70 update. The project is part of Proton’s RM1.8 billion plan to upgrade its facilities at the Tanjung Malim plant, and covers an area of over 18,000 square metre within the plant’s Engine and Powertrain facility.
Built according to the Industry 4.0 (IR 4.0) ethos, the new assembly line utilises numerous automatic and semi-automatic stations to boost its automation level up to 47%, thus significantly upping productivity. At full bore on a three-shift schedule, the new assembly line currently has a maximum capacity of 180,000 engines.
Proton says that the assembly line is manned by 202 directly-employed staff, many of which have spent time in China for extensive skill training. With an average of just 24 years, the “next generation of automotive talents for the nation” is also a step forward in the company’s human capital development goals.
The line itself uses equipment similar to Geely’s Baoji engine plant in China, sourced from reputable suppliers such as ABB, COMAU, FEV China, FEV India, WiBeda, and Hangxin. Of the 88 stations on the assembly line, 17 are fully automatic, 15 semi-automatic, and 56 are manually operated.
The entire assembly line is housed in a climate-controlled clean environment with an anti-static station to prevent static electricity damage to electric components, and the assembly line also moves on a conveyor system that is said to not only run smoother, but is also cleaner, more durable, and cheaper to operate than a chain-based system.
Focusing on quality control, Proton has also implemented Internet of Things (IoT) technology such as data capture and analysis tools throughout the assembly process to ensure the quality standards are met and maintained. Additionally, 207 Error Mistake Proofing (EMP) controls and 34 intelligent high-resolution cameras have been installed on the line to detect process and assembly defects in real-time (with 100% hit-rate), reducing overall downtime.
The fully-assembled engines are subjected to a range of tests before leaving the assembly line, and a number of engines from completed batches are also pulled out at random and subjected to dyno tests of up to 100 hours to ensure they meet the company’s quality standards.
Speaking of the engine, Proton says that the 1.5 TGDi powertrains now feature 30% of local content, with 72 parts currently supplied by 19 Malaysian and four ASEAN vendors. Currently, only the 1.5-litre TGDi engine is assembled at the new Tanjung Malim facility, but Proton says that it will be able to make other variants of the engine, including the port-injected variant, for other models in the future.