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Hartford Technologies Blog

Critical Considerations for Automotive Safety: Bearing Assemblies

Posted: Aug 11, 2020 12:14:27 PM

Many bearings are used in safety-critical assemblies and systems. Others in less vital functions can still affect occupant safety. Any time a vehicle is involved in an accident it is essential each bearing performs exactly as expected. Here's a look at how Hartford Technologies, a leading metal ball bearings manufacturer, goes about ensuring every ball manufactured contributes to automotive safety.

Automotive Bearing Applications

Precision balls are found in seat adjustment mechanisms, door latch assemblies, and steering column bearings. Check balls stop gas escaping in the event of a rollover, seat belt retractor balls ensure reel assemblies function smoothly, and trunk release bearings provide low-friction tailgate opening and closing action. 

An accident can impose huge shock loads on all these subassemblies, yet the metal balls are expected to perform exactly as they should. Achieving that means understanding all in-service conditions, and designing accordingly. It's essential to use only high-quality materials for every ball and ball retainer and to manufacture them using processes and equipment that minimize variability.

Structured Design & Development Processes

Hartford follows established Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) processes when developing automotive assemblies like track roller bearings for seats. This ensures requirements are fully understood and every possible failure mode considered before design work begins. 

Prototypes are tested thoroughly to validate performance. In parallel, the manufacturing process itself is planned, developed and optimized to ensure the required consistency is maintained.

APQP culminates in the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP). This is where Hartford generates the reports and studies that show the product developed will perform as needed. The last step is a verification run to demonstrate the ability to produce the required standard at the rate expected.

Automated Processes

Hartford Technologies deploys automated equipment throughout manufacturing. This eliminates variability introduced by manual loading and operation. Instead, every cycle and operation is performed exactly as the one before.

At Hartford, automation extends into inspection. Advanced systems, many incorporating cameras, verify that every metal ball and bearing assembly is free from defects and conforms to specifications. Just as with automating manufacturing, automating inspection removes the variability humans bring to the task. Automated inspection systems provide consistency and repeatability that no human can match.

Effective Quality Management

By standardizing working procedures, a Quality Management System (QMS) reduces variability and mistakes. Those satisfying the requirements of ISO 9001 and IATF 16949, like the QMS at Hartford Technologies, also drive continuous improvement. That helps reduce process and product variation and leads to more consistent parts.

About Hartford Technologies 

Hartford is a leading manufacturer of the precision balls used in many automotive assemblies. Some of these are safety-critical, almost all have an impact on vehicle safety. By considering application requirements, deploying automated processes, and utilizing a formal QMS, Hartford strives to incorporate safety into every ball and ball retainer they make.

To request a quote or learn more, contact Hartford today.