According to consulting firm IRN Inc., the automotive industry is expected to launch an average of 120 new vehicles annually through 2020, which is going to spur the development of more complex components.1 The designs for these new vehicles rely on lightweight materials and powertrain improvements that include downsized engines, with the addition of direct injection and turbocharging. While the primary purpose for most of these design considerations is to improve fuel economy or reduce emissions, there remains a trend also toward consumer customization requiring a flexible manufacturing environment capable of building a variety of vehicle models in the same plant.
This evolution in vehicle design has become critical to North American automakers, as global automotive OEMs continue to focus on localized manufacturing to reduce production costs and overall time to market. These trends, combined with increasing consumer demand, are expected to drive steady increases in light vehicle production units through 2018 by an estimated 2 million units.2 However, with shortages in skilled labor and auto parts manufacturing currently at 79 percent capacity utilization,3 Tier suppliers must rapidly develop new plants, add more shifts and increase technology investments to become more competitive in the marketplace.
Many of today’s automotive part manufacturers are turning to advanced manufacturing technologies for the scalability and performance to expand production capacities and meet the complex design challenges of new components. These Tier suppliers are discovering that with flexible automation systems, robust machining centers and experienced process engineering support, they are able to obtain the productivity and efficiency necessary to react quickly to market demands and improve profitability.
Within this knowledge center, you are likely to find the technologies and process insights that many North American leading automotive part manufacturers are implementing. We invite you to explore its contents and discover the manufacturing trends and innovations that can help lead your company to greater productivity, efficiency and profitability for the automotive part production demands of today and tomorrow.
The recent Buick TV ads—the one with the creepy neighbors with high-powered binoculars (!) looking at the new Enclave (yeah, like you want the Peeping Tom community to be admiring your new wheels); the clueless friend and the remarkably clueless parking valet each trying to find the Buick in question (would you trust your car to a valet who doesn’t have the sense to hit the fob before running back and forth like a proverbial headless chicken?)—miss the point about Buick.
The internationally renowned iF Design Awards were presented last Friday in Munich, and the eighth-generation Volkswagen Passat took the gold in the “Automobile/Vehicles/Bikes” category.
Dave Pericak started at Ford as a manufacturing engineer.