CompositesWorld

AUG 2018

CompositesWorld

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AUGUST 2018 24 CompositesWorld PLANT TOUR He points out that Agility was "entrepreneur-founded and we still have that entrepreneurial spirit. We have a strong engi- neering prowess and wanted to couple that with manufacturing prowess here." Although at one time the company purchased all of the system components, "today, we make more of the pieces ourselves and have achieved improvements in lead time, cost and quality," says Adelsberger, pointing out, "is is the only verti- cally integrated facility for CNG fuel systems in North America." Originally, composite tanks were also going to be built in the NC factory. "But after the merger in 2016, we decided to leave all tank manufacturing in Lincoln," he says. "Once we opened this site, we relocated most of our North American fuel system production here, except for our operation in California that assembles some systems for buses." Adelsberger walks through an area titled, "Visual Manage- ment," ringed by various boards and displays that track production metrics. "We use these to drive continuous improvement," he says. "We have continued evolving our products in collaboration with our customers." From this entry point on the north side of the production floor, the tour proceeds toward the rear and long side of the rectangular area, with the paint operations center on the left and eastern short side. Adelsberger notes the paint center takes up about 25% of the floor, and is another key part of the company's vertical integration strategy. "We have a wet paint line and a powder coat line and can match to any color specification per OEM — and also match OEM paint quality and durability," he claims. Beyond the paint area, in the southeastern corner of the produc- tion floor, raw aluminum sheet and extrusions are brought in. Stretching from here across the rear half of the factory are the machining cells used to form the parts for the fuel system struc- tures and covers. "We have invested in the latest equipment," Adelsberger says. "For example, automated drilling centers cut the time to produce some structural parts from 24 minutes per cycle down to 4 minutes." He also points out robotic tube bending stations. After machining, parts are painted and then supplied as needed to the assembly lines. Halfway across the floor, Adelsberger turns back to face the north long side of the space and the entry to the assembly area. "We have three independent assembly lines," he explains. ese run left to right (east to west) just in front of the machining cells and occupy the center and front half of the production floor. As FIG. 3 Fuel system final assembly At the Salisbury plant, CNG fuel system assemblies are built up on carts as machined and painted parts are added at each station in three independent production lines. Source | Agility Fuel Solutions FIG. 4 System shipping or direct installation Completed systems are then shipped to customers. Alternatively, customers can elect to have systems integrated directly into their vehicles on the Agility facility's installation line, pictured here. Source | CW / Photo / Ginger Gardiner

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