Manufacturing Success Story: Hitachi
The Hitachi Cable America (HCA) facility, located in Pensacola, Florida produces brake hose assemblies for North American based automobile manufacturers.
As a tier-one automotive supplier, HCA is dedicated to providing the highest quality products to their customers. In addition to meeting customer production demands, HCA also supports aftermarket service demand for a minimum of 15 years after a vehicle model is no longer in production. Often expensive and long lead-time tooling and check fixtures are required to support the production of these brake hoses assemblies. To meet customer expectations, it is imperative that HCA also be able to make changes as required while still meeting delivery schedules. Traditional tooling can be expensive and lengthens the response time to changes. In cases where proof of concept for tooling/fixture designs are needed, it can be expensive and time-consuming.
FloridaMakes at UWF (Florida Manufacturing Extension Partnership for the Northwest section of Florida) arranged a tour for the General Manager of Process Engineering from HCA to see the Sea3D additive manufacturing lab at the University of West Florida (UWF). During the tour, there was discussion on the capabilities of additive manufacturing (AM) processes, material options and logical application areas for HCA to use AM.
A few weeks later, HCA found themselves in an immediate need for a brake tube holding fixture to ensure process conformance. FloridaMakes was able to get the fixture quickly made in the Sea3D lab to address the urgent need, and at a lower cost than traditional tooling. Since that time, HCA has had other fixtures made using the Sea3D additive manufacturing lab. HCA has benefited from using the additive manufacturing lab due to the flexibility in prototyping, quick turnaround of fixtures compared to traditional metalworking processes, and lower cost.
"Working with FloridaMakes, HCA has been able to react to customer Engineering changes much quicker by implementing short term printed fixtures. This has also allowed us to make improvements to existing product lines to add mistake-proof features." - Daniel Hardin, General Manager-Process Engineering, Hitachi