Detroit Truck Manufacturing Gets Their Factory Rolling with Bluco
Detroit Truck Manufacturing (DTM) a captive channel supplier of fabricated aluminum cabs for Spartan Motors fire trucks, as well as its cab and chassis product it supplies to over 40 OEM fire truck manufacturers. They lead the custom-cab fire truck segment in vehicle safety and aerial (or ladder/platform) innovations. Their products are crafted with care, inspected for quality, and “built to stay on the road”.
Previously, Spartan Motor Cabs were manufactured by another company, then shipped to their assembly line. Spartan wanted to become more vertically integrated and brought in a consultant company, EVA, to help design a new facility in Troy, Michigan.
Since they would be manufacturing multiple cab configurations in this new facility, they needed a fixturing solution with a lot of flexibility. That solution would need to allow for different cab sizes, variable part shapes, and strict GD&T tolerancing, in a facility with tight floor and ceiling space requirements. Spartan had worked with Bluco tooling in the past and knew of their high quality, quick turnaround, and expert team of experienced engineers. They suggested EVA reach out to Bluco with their CAD designs and explain the scope of what they needed to accomplish in a very short time frame.
EVA discussed Detroit Truck Manufacturing’s needs and goals with Bluco in an initial discovery session via GOTO Meeting. To further understand the capabilities of modular fixtures, they accepted an invitation to visit Bluco’s Validation Center for several hands-on demos.
After proving that modular fixturing could provide a solution, they moved to Phase 2: designing the specific fixtures needed to produce a complete cab.
The importance of this step in Bluco’s process can’t be overstated. It’s key to making the project successful. Bluco’s engineers work closely with customers, side-by-side, to find the best solutions to their needs. That collaborative approach, matched with deep manufacturing knowledge and years of modular fixturing experience in many different industries, makes concepts take shape quickly. Working alongside the customer makes sure that their needs and goals are always kept top of mind.
EVA was concerned about Detroit Truck Manufacturing’s very low ceiling heights. They created some challenging process issues for their large cabs. Bluco engineers knew that there’s always a solution if you’re not afraid to think outside the box, and they proved it with their concept:
Using ALM lift and rotate positioners and a number of other modular solutions, they conceived of a process which allowed the cab to be made without colliding with the ceiling. After a week of GOTO Meetings, phone conversations, and many “what if” and “Aha!” moments, they had 14 weld cells designed and the full process mapped out. Multiple cab configurations could be produced and welders were able to safely and quickly access all sides throughout the process. The entire project was quoted and presented to Detroit Truck Manufacturing for approval.
Installation kicked off less than three weeks later and Detroit Truck Manufacturing was ready to start building their first cab in their new facility.
“Our engineers have continued to work with Detroit Truck Manufacturing. As new needs or tweaks are discovered in the process, we help them find improvements using their existing tooling. Our engineers intentionally kept the tooling in their designs varied, so they have a diverse library of options to work within any future adjustments.”Bluco
“It’s great having a complete set of different parts that work together. We have these other tables that we use, but I like that these are complete sets, because everything is made to work with everything else. It’s not jerry-rigged. It’s a system.”Detroit Truck Manufacturing Welder
“It’s been really useful to have you guys [Bluco] available by phone to help us find a new solution using what we already have.”Todd Stoughton, EVA