Right now, the North American International Auto Show is celebrating its 27th year here in Detroit. As I walk around the show floor, I feel proud to know that our systems help build many of the vehicles I’m seeing here today. And while everyone is buzzing about the latest vehicle unveilings at the auto show, I am reminded of my company’s 100-year history providing material handling innovations that improved the automotive manufacturing industry.
One major trend I have seen recently is making more with less; building more products (styles/brands) with fewer assembly plants. This means that we have to provide systems that are more flexible than ever before. Our material handling equipment needs to handle a larger variety of products. Some plants are even building cars and trucks under the same roof. SmartCart Automatic Guided Carts (AGCs) are extremely popular for automotive customers such as Tesla (video) and automotive supplier Magna (video) because they provide extreme flexibility, allowing customers to simply change a carrier if they need to change product lines and to add or subtract AGCs to modify production rates.
Conveyors have also changed. We first provided the rivetless chain conveyor to Henry Ford in 1919. Back then, it was just one body style and one color. Today, there’s endless vehicle options, which increases the need for numerous conveyor types. Daifuku America Corporation designs and installs the widest variety of conveyors, including friction, power & free, skillet, skid and enclosed track to nearly every automaker in the industry. Our conveyors serve the three main parts of an assembly plant: Body Shop, Paint Shop and General Assembly and can produce up to 90 vehicles per hour.
With all of the innovations, it’s truly a great time to be in the auto industry and in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show.