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.
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.
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.
Back in the day, engines were the exclusive domain of cast iron and steel. But, during the past decade, more lightweight materials, such as aluminum and hard thermoplastics, have been slowly creeping under the hood. The Holy Grail, an engine made almost entirely out of plastic, is finally close to reality.
When pilots fly the Boeing Co. Dreamliner 787-9 over Utah, they probably don’t point out to passengers the headquarters of Orbital ATK’s aerospace structures division (ASD) in the town of Clearfield. Nevertheless, it’s safe to assume they’re happy the facility is there.
Although being part of an international conglomerate has its advantages (such as extensive financial resources and access to cutting-edge technologies), a company still must make good products to establish and expand its customer base. This statement definitely applies to Canadian bus manufacturer Nova Bus Inc., which began in 1993 and has been part of Volvo Bus Corp.—the world’s largest motorcoach and transit bus manufacturer—since 1998.
Product designers, like manufacturers, face the daily challenge of creating original, quality products that fit market needs. Based in Dublin, the Klickity Co. has been meeting this challenge as both a product design firm and a manufacturer since 2010. Founded by industrial designer Kate Cronin, the company specializes in sustainable and affordable contemporary home accessories and LED-based gifts.
This November marks 10 years that Thermo Fisher Scientific has been manufacturing, storing and delivering essential consumables to life-science researchers worldwide. Workers at Thermo Fisher’s global manufacturing and distribution center in Frederick, MD, fill orders by picking from thousands of unique stock keeping units (SKUs), including many products that must be preserved in a cooler or freezer.