Eckhart is currently leading Industry 4.0 by using additive manufacturing solutions. The company is dedicated to improving the lives of factory-floor workers through safety, reliability and efficiency in manufacturing for industries such as the medical device to automotive.
“Industry 4.0 is really the ecosystem that is a smart factory. It takes all of the systems in a factory, ties them together to help not only those who manage the process, but also to help the employees om the factory floor become more informed on the health of the system” – Andrew Storm. CEO of Eckhart.
“Industry 4.0 is really the ecosystem that is a smart factory. It takes all of the systems in a factory, ties them together to help not only those who manage the process, but also to help the employees on the factory floor become more informed on the health of the system,” said Andrew Storm, Eckhart’s CEO. “Ninety percent of Fortune 500 manufacturing CEO’s believe adopting Industry 4.0 technologies is imperative,” added Dan Burseth, vice president of Eckhart. “And we build technology implementation plans with some of the largest manufacturers in the world, designing tools, equipment and automation that truly improve the life of the people tasked with running the line.”
Customized, Proven Additive Solutions
Eckhart ensures they customize factory floor solutions in order to address particular wants and needs of each and every client. Employees walk the floor to see the exact ergonomics, line of site or bill of materials that call for improvement using autonomous guided vehicles, collaborative robotics and additive manufacturing.
“Our customers want proven solutions, durable solutions; the assembly environment is harsh. These tools are being used 60 times an hour for an 8-hour shift, 3 shifts a day, 6-7 days a week,” said Bob Heath, Eckhart’s Additive Manufacturing Applications Engineer. “With Stratasys engineering-grade materials, Nylon 12 with carbon fiber and ULTEM™ 1010 resin, we are able to produce durable, lasting solutions that can hold up and withstand the rigors of an automotive environment.”
Working to streamline production for their leading industry clients (Ford, Mercedes, Airbus, ect), Eckahrt displays how additive manufacturing using Stratasys materials vastly improves the way things have always been done.
“Traditionally, we had to design our parts around the way we were going to manufacture them, whether it was manually machining or CNC machine, our part design was limited to our manufacturing capabilities,” said Heath. “But with additive manufacturing, the complexities and capabilities are limitless.”
A number of Eckhart’s clients were able to witness many positive benefits from small tweaks to their processes, adopting 3D printed jigs and fixtures for applications such as a lug nut starter, badge alignment tools and wiper alignment set fixtures.
“Pressing on badges, emblems on vehicles – these things are repetitive tasks. When we go into plants and we pick up a badge tool, and it’s heavy, it’s either above or right at that ergonomic limit for the operator to be able to pick up 60 times an hour. So we’re alleviating the repetitive injury strain on the operator,” explained Heath. “We provide solutions that are not replacing operators but are making up for the operators they can’t hire, or projecting the ability of one operator so that one can be the same as five, and additive manufacturing is one of the tools that we have to facilitate that,” said Drew Morales, Director of Business Development and Engineering Systems at Eckhart.
Partnering for a Streamlined Future
Eckhart recognizes both time and innovation are top priorities, and all businesses are under an extreme amount of pressure to iterate quicker. Eckhart notices this across the board. Everything from heavy truck manufacturers like Caterpillar, to medical device manufacturers like Medtronic and Boston Scientific, to aerospace manufacturers Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed Martin.
“We feel very strongly that 3D printing is the catalyst that allows businesses to test hypotheses much faster than they’ve ever been able to before,” concluded Storm. “Speed and customization ultimately is empowered through the use of 3D printing.”