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Case Study: A Simple Solution to a Messy Situation


Manufacturing is a complex process. Within the automotive/heavy truck industry, even more so, with the vast array of components that must be manufactured before going to the final assembly plant. Various processes like part assembly, heat treating, cleaning, and painting add to the complexity and can lead to potential problems.

In order to help a large axle manufacturing company solve its messy problem with a paint operation, StockCap, took the time to understand the paint process from beginning to end. Before any axle/spindle assembly can be shipped to the final customer, it must be painted with a protective coating. The process begins by cleaning the axle assembly to ensure proper adhesion of the protective coating. Prior to this, a plastic plug is inserted into the ends of the hollow axle to prevent moisture from getting inside and a protective vinyl cap is put over the threaded spindle on each end of the axle.

SpindlesAfter the cleaning process, the axle is dried to remove all water from the surface. This process along with the painting and curing processes cause air pressure to build up inside the axle. If the plastic plug “popped” out of the end of the axle, then the vinyl cap could potentially expand and rip. This would lead to costly rework due to the paint getting on the spindle. A solution was needed to ensure the efficiency of the process.

StockCap was able to design a custom rubber plug that would replace the standard plastic plug. This new design provided improved heat stability and would withstand the air pressure built up during the cleaning and painting process. According to Jim Pitrak, Automotive Components Market Manager for StockCap, “Unlike the plastic plug, this new design improves the processing and provides our customer with a product that can be reused multiple times.” By switching to this simple design, the axle manufacturer will benefit over the life of the program. The rubber plugs are reusable, saving time by reducing order frequency and enabling better inventory control.  

At StockCap, our team members personally work with customers to understand what is needed to solve problems that arise in complex processes.  Many times we can find a simple solution to a messy situation.

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