Adventure Weekly Features
We really didn't have any competing interests. We were trying to do something that several companies had attempted and failed, due to the technical issues they couldn't overcome, but we were certain that it could be done.
We organized all the Future Molding Day details into sections that ended up defining the individual areas of a CMS (composite molding system) that later would be called a VEC cell. These details were really goals for things like cycle time (how long to mold a part) and reliability, and became our targets for each of the sections of a VEC cell. We needed to learn as much about each section that was available. We split up the sections between people in our engineering team and assigned one person to each section.
The next step was benchmarking - determining what closed-mold materials and equipment existed and how it would fit our needs. We visited as many companies that we could that had any involvement in closed molding. We also visited and met with every equipment and material supplier in the closed molding field. We learned quickly that we would have to develop our own materials and equipment to hit our targets because there weren't any available systems that would hit them.
We were in a time crunch because we had limited money to complete it. Our president had gathered investments from several individuals to fund this project. The investment was not unlimited. We needed to complete the project before the money ran out.
Helped Come Up With a Solution?
On our team there was a chemist, a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, and computer programmers. The chemist was responsible for the raw materials that were to be used in the VEC process. We had to create our own resin formulas and blending systems to meet our goals. The mechanical engineer was responsible for all the equipment; molds, injection equipment, material handling equipment, etc. The electrical engineer was responsible for the wiring of all the electronics and sensors. The sensors we use are extremely critical to provide feedback about what is happening in each step of the process.
Was the Solution You Came Up With?
Throughout the progress of this project we held several review meetings to evaluate our progress and identify and agree upon our next steps. We also made sure to identify if there was more than one good idea to fix a problem. We evaluated each idea as a group so we could pick the best option.
The ultimate test of our project success was when Genmar Holdings, Inc. used the system in production of boats and was satisfied that it met the criteria. Genmar is now the owner of the VEC system and is bringing on several new VEC Cells to produce more boats.
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