As the second-largest producer of automobiles in the world, second to China, we saw the U.S. auto industry post the “…fourth-biggest year on record thanks to December gains” (rubbernews.com); worldwide, there were some 70.5 million cars produced (statista.com).
By Mark L. Michalski2019 SME President,SME Member Since 1992
The perception of the global automobile manufacturing landscape is of one on the verge of structural change, driven in the near term by battery-electric vehicles and Level 5 fully self-driving cars over a much longer time horizon.
By Kevin TynanSenior Analyst - New Vehicle and Auto Part Manufacturing,Bloomberg Intelligence
In Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, there’s a structure that symbolizes both the promise and the peril of a new automotive era—the 105-year-old Michigan Central Station. The train station has been empty and decaying for 30 years.
At the horseshoe-shaped assembly line in Youngstown, Ohio, engine parts move like clockwork on a conveyor with 60-second takt time for each station. “It’s a fast-paced line; everything is just-in-time, just-in-sequence,” says Gary Bobalik, director of marketing at Comprehensive Logistics.
If San Diego-based Achates Power is ahead of its time now, it was completely revolutionary when it was founded in 2004 by James U. Lemke, former physics professor and founder of Spin Physics Inc. The company designs green internal combustion engines for passenger and commercial vehicles, and for military, marine, and stationary use.
In the fast-changing world of motorized vehicle manufacturing, supply chain companies are now offering numerous software suites, bringing digitalization software and customizable applications to machine tool builders, alongside CNC hardware and operating software.
Victor Furtado - Head of CNC Software Business, Siemens
German metrology developer Jenoptik is shifting “from focusing on metrology and laser processing standalone equipment to integrated automation solutions for the automotive industry and other new applications, including aerospace,” so it recently bought Prodomax Automation in Barrie, Ontario, and Five Lakes Automation, in Michigan, Prodomax Co-CEO Carolyn Garvey said.
Brett Brune - Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing
Despite increasing levels of digitalization, cars are still equipped with lock cylinders to ensure the door can be unlocked at any given time. Kiekert’s ReactiWake locking system guarantees this on a purely electronic level, thus creating new opportunities in vehicle design and operating concept.
The U.S. auto industry has been automated for decades. Production of cars and trucks is associated with large, hulking robots fenced off from human employees. Inside those fenced off areas, tasks such as welding are performed. The industry, though, is advancing on the automation front.
Leak testing plays a crucial role in the production of individual battery cells, the smallest component of traction batteries. Specifically, tracer gas procedures are acceptable for determining adherence to extremely low-limit leak rates. However, new methods of construction allow manufacturers to do more to provide leak-tightness for their cells.
Before we delve into what’s ahead in the automotive industry for 2019, first let’s look at what is not going to happen this year. Autonomous vehicle technology – although it’s devouring a lot of venture capital money – is not going to be the next big thing in automotive, with a few caveats.
Although the sale of electric cars is growing, mass adoption remains a pipe dream. And it will remain so until electric cars deliver the same mileage per battery charge as a tank of gasoline. The pressure is on to find a solution, as the quest for ever-lower CO2 emissions increases and the desire to retain vehicle access in some of the world’s most-populous cities becomes paramount.
With the rapid evolution in engine and powertrain technology occurring in the market today, it is imperative for production machine suppliers to respond to the changing needs of their customers without sacrificing the core concepts of quality and service.
In a recent study, over 80 percent of survey respondents listed workforce issues as one of their top three challenges to adopting new technology at their plants. New technologies are coming not only to cars, utility vehicles and trucks but also to the manufacturing plants that produce parts, components and vehicles.