PARIS - PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Renault are revamping their engine plants in France and Spain as they introduce new-generation gasoline and diesel engines.
PSA has invested FF3 billion ($520 million) in its new HDI direct-injection common-rail diesel program, including FF1 billion to develop the new diesel and FF2 billion in new production facilities. The HDI is now available as a 2.0-liter unit on the Peugeot 406 and Citroen Xantia.
Meanwhile, Renault is installing new flexible machining lines for main engine components like cylinder heads, connecting rods and cylinder blocks.
PSA spent FF1.3 billion on industrial equipment at the Tremery plant in Lorraine, eastern France. PSA claims it is the biggest diesel engine plant in the world. Another FF700 million was invested at PSA's forge in Mulhouse and foundries in Charleville, Sept-Fons and Sochaux.
An engine every 24 seconds
At Tremery, four machining shops were built from scratch and eight completely revamped. The total expenditure was FF955 million.
The investment includes 15 flexible machining centers, able to make 8- and 16-valve cylinder heads, 32 gantries for transporting cylinder heads and camshafts, and a new washing process. PSA spent FF315 million on a new assembly line with 226 workstations, and 2,500 meters of conveyors. It is able to produce one engine every 24 seconds.
Tremery also has a 600-square-meter controlled-atmosphere room, where air is permanently filtered to prevent impurities from being introduced during assembly of the common rail direct-injection fuel system. PSA spent FF12 million on the clean-room system.
Tremery currently produces 5,500 engines per day. In 1997 about 1.1 million engines were made there, including 800,000 diesels. Production of HDI engines will reach 2,000 per day in June 1999, up from 500 units now.
'We are starting with the 2.0-liter and we will follow in late 1999 with the 2.2-liter,' said Daniel Marteau, HDI engine project manager. 'We will launch two new adaptations of the engines every month. In a second stage, we may extend the range in either a downward or upward direction.'
Renault has invested FF300 million on flexible machining lines for cylinder heads. The first began operations last summer at the Cleon engine plant, 120km west of Paris. Two other plants, Douvrin in northern France, and a plant in Valladolid, Spain, will receive similar equipment in the next few months.
Renault's flexible lines
Cleon is Renault's biggest engine plant, building 582,000 units in 1997. It makes F-series 1.8- and 2.0-liter gasoline and 1.9-liter diesel engines, and G-series 2.2-liter diesels. The engines are used in the Megane, Laguna, Safrane and Espace models. They are also sold to Volvo and Daewoo.
The new line consists of 60 machining centers and assembly cells linked to a conveyor by automatic gantries. Production capacity is 1,200 to 1,400 units per day.
'With the old lines it was 3,000 units, but with no flexibility,' said Claude Glinel-Mortreuil, project engineer for manufacturing. 'With the new line, we can make four different cylinder heads.'
New cylinder-head machining lines will be added for the D-series small-range and the K-series middle-range engines next year. The D-series is made in Douvrin, and the K-series in Valladolid.
New machining lines for cylinder blocks and connecting rods will follow, Glinel-Mortreuil said. A new FF130 million flexible machining shop for connecting rods is being installed in Cleon.