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DECIDING WHETHER THE SWEDES WERE TAKING A GAMBLE

Background Ankarsrum Motors AB is based in Ankarsrum, southern Sweden. The company was formerly known as FHP-Elmotor, when it was part of the Electrolux group. They produce large numbers of AC and DC electric motors for lawnmowers, special industrial applications and small kitchen appliances.

They wanted to bring in some outside experience, on a project for a new type of electric motor, to balance the knowledge and expertise of the in-house team.

Challenge The proposed development involved a novel type of motor construction that was intended to deliver significant performance improvements and cost reductions. However, there were concerns about whether manufacturing and reliability risks were being inadvertently increased by adopting these novel construction techniques. The real challenge was that this was a high value project, which would bring huge benefits if it was successful but serious consequences if it went wrong. A massive capital equipment purchasing programme was linked to its implementation.

Solution SA facilitated a thorough review of existing, similar motors was undertaken from both the manufacturers and the customers’ point of view. Reconciliation and mediation was needed between the two viewpoints. Fault-Tree Analysis of the entire motor was carried out, taking into account functional requirements, component manufacture and assembly variables. Each vulnerable area was explored in detail and suggestions for minimising risk and maximising reward were detailed for each part.

Deliverables We were able to deliver painstaking forensic engineering analysis. We employed inventive problem solving, suggested improvements, and gave clear and concise reports to the management with many explanatory diagrams, bearing in mind the English/Swedish language barrier.

Results The risks were seen as too high in relation to the rewards that were likely to be gained, so a less radical series of design improvements were adopted. Reliability went up and manufacturing faults went down.

A more conventional design was evolved, which achieved large rewards for both factory and end-user customer without spending more than a tenth of the original budget.