Customer profile:
ThyssenKrupp Bilstein

New technology will sometimes find itself in unintended but highly useful applications, as Michael Lunsford, Product Quality Supervisor for ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America, has discovered. Netbooks—those tiny laptops that sell for less than $300, intended for classroom and commuter use—are finding a home on the company’s production floor, eliminating the need to bring equipment back to the lab and then return it to the floor.

Using GAGEpack on a netbook in this way “allows me to make location, condition, and other changes during gage audits on the floor,” Lunsford says, saving time and simplifying processes. He estimates that this approach saves half the time that would be otherwise utilized. GAGEpack facilitates the process, he says, because it is “very user friendly compared to a few others I’ve used,” adding that he especially likes the ability to modify reports, even though “the default reports cover about 90 percent of the uses I need.” Although Lunsford has been using GAGEpack successfully for a dozen years, the newest hardware has enhanced its use and improved the calibration process.

By using the netbook on the production floor, Lunsford sees advantages in calibrating gages in the environment in which they are actually used. A wireless network gives him the capability to access the GAGEpack database and make entries from the floor directly into the system, eliminating the time spent in gathering gages, collecting data, and returning them to their original locations. “Gages are barely out of service” by collecting the data on the floor, Lunsford says. He tracks 756 active gages—about 1200, including inactive gages.

ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America, headquartered in Hamilton, Ohio, provides auto parts and supplies to companies throughout the world. Founded in 1873 as Bilstein, the company developed and distributed equipment globally, eventually merging with other companies to form ThyssenKrupp Automotive Group. Bilstein is a wholly-owned subsidiary company of the firm, known for its production of premium shock absorbers that have received worldwide acclaim for their quality. More than 40 percent of the production personnel are involved with quality control to maintain the company’s industry-leading level of shock absorber efficiency and long life performance.

The group is a primary supplier to the automotive industry and, with its other subsidiaries, covers a wide spectrum of manufacturing from steel production to automation and communications technology among others. Employing more than 200 at the Hamilton site, the company is also located in Poway, California.