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Detroit Truck Manufacturing

Detroit Truck Manufacturing Gets its Factory Rolling with Bluco

Author: Wendy Calcaterra

Published: November 22, 2019

...What most impressed me was that about 3 hours after I sent in the SOLIDWORKS design, I was looking at a fixture model on a video conference call with our Bluco engineer...

Todd Stoughton

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Industry

Agriculture

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Challenge

Varying Part Sizes

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Company Profile

Detroit Truck Manufacturing

Madison Heights, MI

2,300 Employees

Aluminum Truck Cab Fabrication

CHALLENGES

Supply Chain

Wide Variety of Part Sizes

 

Detroit Truck Manufacturing manufactures and assembles fire truck cabs and chassis “built to stay on the road”. 2022/05/dtm5.png
Detroit Truck Manufacturing manufactures and assembles fire truck cabs and chassis “built to stay on the road”.
One of Detroit Truck Manufacturing’s fire engine cabs after assembly. 2022/05/dtm-4.jpg
One of Detroit Truck Manufacturing’s fire engine cabs after assembly.
Detroit Truck Manufacturing’s clean, empty facility. The low ceilings proved to be a process challenge. 2022/05/dtm3.jpeg
Detroit Truck Manufacturing’s clean, empty facility. The low ceilings proved to be a process challenge.
Modular fixturing and teamwork make for a successful solution

To make big changes, companies often have to overcome even bigger obstacles. When faced with such a challenge, Detroit Truck Manufacturing (DTM) called on Bluco and their expertise in modular fixturing for a solution.

In his role as Director of Welding Engineering for Oakland Standard Company, Todd Stoughton got an informed perspective on the entire project from beginning to end.

A manufacturing shift with major potential benefits

The cabs for Spartan Motor fire trucks were being manufactured by another company and then shipped to Spartan’s assembly line. To become more vertically integrated, DTM was launched as a captive-channel supplier of fabricated aluminum cabs for Spartan Motors fire trucks, as well as the cab and chassis product it supplies to over 40 OEM fire truck manufacturers.

But as Stoughton quickly learned, the change would require a highly flexible fixturing solution. “My first challenge was to understand what it was I was building,” said Stoughton. “I came into the project thinking we were just building one kind of cab. It turned out to be a huge number of models and options. I quickly realized that if I was going to use hard tooling to build these things, it was going to be millions and millions of dollars.”

After confirming that suspicion by getting quotes on dedicated fixturing, Stoughton had to start thinking outside the box to come up with a better solution — one that not only fit the budget, but could get them operational quickly while accommodating different cab sizes, variable part shapes, and strict GD&T tolerancing despite tight floor space requirements. Stoughton wondered: “How are we going to make these subassemblies and marry them together with the accuracy that we require?”

The solution is modular

Having worked with Bluco, Spartan’s CEO, Daryl Adams, was already familiar with their high quality, quick turnaround and team of experienced engineers. So Adams asked Stoughton to share the CAD designs with Bluco’s engineers.

After the initial virtual discovery sessions with Bluco, Stoughton put a door in the back of his truck and he and the Spartan team visited Bluco’s Validation Center in Naperville, Illinois for several hands-on demos that provided proof that the fixtures they designed for the CAD models worked on the actual part. “At that point I knew that regardless of what I was trying to build, I had a guy that could put it on a fixture for me,” said Stoughton. The answer was indeed going to be modular fixturing. Now it was time to start designing.

 

RESULTS

Quick Delivery

Easier Workflow

Budget Met

Bluco’s state of the art Validation Center. 2022/05/dtm-2.jpeg
Bluco’s state of the art Validation Center.

Bluco’s engineers worked side-by-side with DTM to design the custom solutions needed to produce a complete cab. Using ALM lift and rotate positioners and a number of other modular solutions, they came up with a process that worked with the variable part shapes needed, and large final size of the cab. Leaning on Bluco engineers with deep manufacturing knowledge and years of modular fixturing experience, the team had 14 weld cells designed and the full process mapped out in a week.

After the quote was presented and approved, installation kicked off less than three weeks later and DTM was ready to hit the ground running. Multiple cab configurations could be produced and welders were able to safely and quickly access all sides throughout the process.

Bluco engineers worked collaboratively with DTM to develop this finished solution, which includes 14 weld cells and a new time-saving process that included floor rails that allowed the team to marry together subassemblies with extreme accuracy. 2022/05/DTM-Facility.jpeg
Bluco engineers worked collaboratively with DTM to develop this finished solution, which includes 14 weld cells and a new time-saving process that included floor rails that allowed the team to marry together subassemblies with extreme accuracy.

Quick Response
Unique Process
Money Saved

Designs in Hours

Stoughton started out looking for a fixture for one part of the cab — the door. Three hours after he sent in the SOLIDWORKS design, “I was looking at a fixture model on a video conference call with our Bluco engineer,” said Stoughton.

It was literally faster than the other guys could even call me back. I looked at the model and thought, wow – that will work.

Solutions Proved Out in Bluco's Validation Center

After the initial virtual discovery sessions with Bluco, Stoughton put a door in the back of his truck and he and the Spartan team visited Bluco’s Validation Center in Naperville, Illinois for several hands-on demos that provided proof that the fixtures they designed for the CAD models worked on the actual part.

At that point I knew that regardless of what I was trying to build, I had a guy that could put it on a fixture for me.

An Impossible Budget Made Possible

Bluco’s engineers worked with DTM to design a custom solution to produce a complete cab. The final design included modular floor rails, custom welding tables and ALM positioners The team had 14 weld cells designed and the full process mapped out in a week.

It saved a tremendous amount of money. I really don’t even know if this project would have been financially possible without Bluco.