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»A sincere compliment I will give to HELLER is that they are good collaborative partners, they really are. Through the project there was a lot of give and take. We would ask, for instance, can you do this or that, and the response was what could be done or new ideas as alternatives. That has been a real plus in our relationship with HELLER: an open exchange of ideas that ends up improving the project. Ideas came from our side and the HELLER side and some were like ping pong balls that went back and forth until they got to where they are today.« David Mitchell, Manager of Manufacturing Engineering at Detroit Diesel

Development and implementation of a highly flexible hybrid manufacturing system incorporating HELLER machining centres and FTS for the new DD15 heavy-duty engine

HELLER solutions at Detroit Diesel Corporation


Task Setting

  • Production of the new DD15: 14.8l 6-cylinder in-line diesel engine
  • Product and process development in simultaneous engineering with Detroit Diesel
  • Optimal Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) throughout the complete life cycle of the hybrid system

Project scope and solution

  • Hybrid solution for complete machining comprising several machining centres model MCH-400D, one head changer system model HCS 450 D, linked to FST transferline (Flexible System Transferline)
  • Transcontinental development of a manufacturing system in simultaneous engineering by HELLER Germany, HELLER USA and Detroit Diesel
  • Flexible manufacturing system: adaptation to increasing production volume, suitable for batch size 1, mixed production


  • Precise investment planning and flexible expansion of the production volume at Detroit Diesel
  • Complete heavy-duty machining of workpieces up to 4000kg in weight, diameters of up to 170cm and lengths of up to 130cm on HELLER MCH 400D
  • FST provides short lead times, small footprint and high system availability
  • Increased machine availability: rough milling of bulkhead on Head Changer System enables tool change during machining avoiding unnecessary idle times
  • Engine assembly in close proximity to engine manufacturing keeps distances short and provides a better overview of the complete manufacturing process; possible due to excellent enclosure of HELLER machines
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