In the early 1980s, a product design methodology called design for assembly (DFA) began to gain popularity. It focused on improving efficiency by evaluating the amount of labor required for assembly. Since that time, the DFA methodology has been adopted with much success by more than 850 corporations.
Efforts to reduce vehicle weight have mostly focused on aluminum, plastics and composites, but another lightweight material is also getting attention: magnesium. The ninth most abundant element in the universe, magnesium is as strong as steel, but 33 percent lighter than aluminum, 60 percent lighter than titanium, and 75 percent lighter than steel.
Whether fully automatic, semiautomatic or manual, almost every assembly system has some type of sensor for inspection, error-proofing or production monitoring. Thanks to new technologies, sensors are becoming smaller, more robust, more accurate and easier to integrate.
If we are to build a better world, politicians tell us, power must be placed in the right hands. This statement will draw no protest from assemblers. After all, these skilled workers require state-of-the-art power tools to build long-lasting quality products on a daily basis.
Wearable electronics initially trickled into the market with Dick Tracy-inspired watches and healthcare bracelets. They quickly gained momentum, however, and it wasn’t long before the wearables market exploded.
In the past, automobile manufacturers only required basic forms of leak testing to check standard subassemblies, such as, air conditioning, power train and cooling system components. Traditional hard-vacuum and accumulation methods were—and still are—used to test components such as radiators, evaporators, condensers, air-conditioner hoses, torque converters and valve bodies.
Employees at Fiat Chrysler’s Indiana Transmission Plant I (ITPI) in Kokomo, IN, have achieved something few in manufacturing can claim—they have logged 10 million hours, or a span of more than three years, without a lost-time injury.
Manufacturers today are producing a wider range of products than ever. Life cycles are shrinking and demand for customization is increasing. As a result, assembly lines must be as flexible as possible without compromising efficiency. That’s why companies producing everything from pumps to pistols and caskets to chainsaws depend on mixed-model assembly.