Sustainable waste management | Neil Jefferies on his favourite flexible manufacturing project
The door jig I designed and developed for Total Precision was one of the first projects I worked on when I joined the SME Group. The company had been in contact with a major car manufacturer who offered Total Precision the chance to design and supply a special ‘door jig’ which is used to hold a car door in a fixed position as it travels around the factory. This is a small part but when you consider family cars to have 4 doors and a production line can produce of over 150,000 units a year it adds up to a lot of doors! As Total Precision did not have an in-house CAD resource, they came to WMG to help design and develop a new jig.
In creating this new part we studied the various door jigs the factory has used. I looked at what worked and what didn’t and then created a new jig around those parameters. We took into account height, width, flexibility, fixpoints, paint flaking, and weight. Weight was a key area to tackle as we aimed to reduce it by 20%.
With a potential manufacturing volume of over 1.5 million parts over 3 years, even a small weight reduction would result in a large material saving. With a part that only weighs 11-12g that was not an easy task. I used Solidworks to design the product and then 3D printed it in ABS plastic for live trials at the factory. A couple of design changes and trials later, Total Precision was given the contract to supply the part for the 3+ years. As Total Precision is an SME this was a high profile new client for them and would help secure the future of the company.