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Metal Parts Follow Tough Plastics Act

When you walk into the Redeye On Demand facility in Eden Prairie, MN, you enter into one version of the factory of the future. There you will see a bank of 100 high-end Fortus fused-deposition modeling (FDM) machines from Stratasys that provide the capacity to build real, functional parts with production-grade thermoplastics directly from CAD data.

Lean Efforts Capture the Shingo

A subsidiary of HNI Corp. (Mustacine, IA), the second-largest manufacturer of office furniture in North America, Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT; Mt. Pleasant, IA) manufactures sheetmetal fireplaces (both wood and gas-burning), vent pipe, and fireplace accessories. The company has four manufacturing facilities.

Tooling to Match Composite Production

It’s getting harder to imagine any market that isn’t benefiting from the latest developments in parts manufactured from advanced composites. “Advanced composites will arguably dominate consumer and production products, especially in the near future,” says Bert Erdel, industry consultant and executive technology advisor, Morris Group Inc. (Windsor, CT), “as they have begun to gain wide acceptance in solving energy-related issues.”

Sustaining a Lean Culture

Earlier this year, at the 21st annual Shingo Prize conference awards ceremony, Autoliv Americas’ airbag module facility in Ogden, UT, was awarded The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence. This was the second Shingo Prize won by the Autoliv Ogden Airbag Assembly (AOA) plant.

Solutions for Difficult Machining

The machining challenges for two of the most advanced concepts in cutting tool materials are pretty well known. Cubic boron nitride (CBN) tools of varying designs are being used to cut hardened ferrous metals with or without interrupted cuts, as well as welded and clad metals.

Lean at NUMMI

To remain competitive in the fiercely contested North American automotive industry, the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI, Fremont, CA) assembly plant, a joint venture between Toyota Motor Corp. (Aichi Prefecture, Japan) and General Motors Corp. (Detroit), has rededicated its efforts in lean manufacturing during the past few years by applying key tenets of the Toyota Production System (TPS). 

Lean Techniques: Yokoten

If you have never heard the term Yokoten, prepare yourself. It has been added to the Lean Operations lexicon as an important activity. Yokoten is being used by lean firms to help them become leaner. Yokoten is a Japanese term that can be roughly translated as “across everywhere.”

Change-up Pitch: From Metal to Plastic

Even though it’s been around since the 1950s, when engineering-grade resins were first introduced, many manufacturers still are not familiar with the many benefits that metal-to-plastic conversion provides.

Auto Industry Faces Short- and Long-Term Challenges

Sales of cars and light trucks plummeted during the Great Recession and General Motors Co. and Chrysler emerged from government-back bankruptcies in 2009. Since then, total industry deliveries have surged, hitting a record 17.47 million in 2015, according to Autodata Corp.