Mazda Tool Maker Keylex Corp: 80% Reduction of Task-Hours for Part Validation – a Japanese Success Story with AutoForm


A Speedy Delivery of Formability and Process Evaluations Using AutoForm

How to validate as many parts as possible in a short period of time? In this post we see how Keylex Corporation runs all the initial evaluation tasks from modeling geometries to feasibility using AutoForm and how they reduced their man-hours by 80%!

With its head office in Hiroshima Japan, Keylex Corporation (hereafter Keylex) specializes in design and production of the vehicle bodies, including shell parts, fuel parts and creates press forming tools. Armed with AutoForm they run all initial evaluations, from modelling to verifying formability, in order to quickly provide optimum evaluations of press formed products for their OEM clients. Mazda alone accounts for over 90% of their sales.

‘Mazda, our major client company, is currently preparing for the mass production of a new-generation car. So we are driven to establish more efficient production methods in order to meet the growing number of orders from Mazda’ stated Mr. Shinji Miguchi, Group Manager from Keylex. So how was AutoForm implemented?

Fig. 1: The process planner can focus work on as many
items as desired, to create proposals

Keylex does evaluations of their press forming task in two stages. The ‘initial evaluation’ examines feasibility and the ‘deep evaluation’ checks accuracy based on the first phase. Their aim was firstly to propose the optimal process for their clients in order to shorten the ‘initial evaluation’ phase, letting them quickly have proposals at the ready. This allows Keylex to reach agreements with their clients on the process plan at an early stage.

Just compare this to the conventional method used before:

Conventionally, the press forming process planner first examined the strategies based on product data, and designed a simple die layout (DL). Next, the modeling engineer created a model from the DL. Then the engineer in charge of the analysis examined formability. After that the process planner ran the evaluation. Each task had their respective experts.

Mr. Miguchi said, ‘That method took an enormous effort and time. Consider how the process planner would have to create a drawing in order to transmit ideas to the modeling engineer, and the engineer has to pass all required information and analysis results to the process planner. Also, there may have been a need to modify or verify the transferred information. At times the process layout was not completed before starting work on the actual design. If the modelling engineer or the engineer in charge of analysis and evaluation was busy with another task the process would go on hold until the engineer was available again.’

The solution? ‘Keylex assigned all these tasks to a single process planner’ says Mr. Yukinori, from Keylex Press Technology Group, adding ‘Even the formability evaluation cycle was shortened, allowing for more evaluation cycles to be performed.  The replacement of the conventional method with the new one allowed us to reduce the man-hours by 80% on average.’

To achieve this whooping result Keylex introduced several AutoForm products:

1) AutoForm-StampingAdviserPlus is used to quickly verify formability and examine yield rate from part data only. 2) AutoForm-ProcessExplorerplus for setting up simulations and evaluating the results. 3) AutoForm-DieDesignerplus for the die face creation.

Fig. 2: What can be done with AutoForm, a comparison of time with AutoForm usage.

AutoForm-DieDesignerplus is used to quickly create the model of the tools of each single operation and AutoForm-ProcessExplorerplus is used to set up the process and evaluate the results (post processing). Before using conventional 3D CAD + other simulation software it took a total of 11 hours and 30 minutes to run the initial evaluation cycle. Now with AutoForm it takes only 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Mr. Masashi Ozeki, Leader of Advanced Development at Keylex remarked, ‘The form of output is changing. Now we can report to the client with confidence by attaching the simulation result to the report. Further, when we have to evaluate a large number of parts in a limited timeframe, we could not use simulation for all of the parts in the old method. Now we can run simulations on all the parts if needed. We can identify the position of the specific splits and wrinkles to clients, and we can make proposals on new modelling that solve those issues. The way to reach agreements is fast tracked.’

The process of transforming their internal processes chain at Keylex is to be commended. Not every company has the courage to make such massive changes. Many Japanese tool makers still use the ‘one expert for every little task’ approach, which has been outmoded by the ‘one person does it all’ strategy that has already transformed the European automotive industry, over the last fifteen years. Does the challenge-to-change remain a daring process only for the courageous? No! With case-examples like this, which demonstrate massive time and cost savings, it’s clear the highly fragmented process chain strategy is no longer competitive.

AutoForm is the software tool that supports a fully integrated process analysis and decision making processes whereby ALL aspects of sheet metal forming may be considered simultaneously. This powerful offering brings huge savings to AutoForm customers, as impressively documented by Keylex. Well done to the Keylex team!


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