Just-in-time delivery, carefully coordinated production lines, Toyota-style lean manufacturing and an eagle eye to safety make the automotive engineering lab at Auburn University just like the real thing. The big exception—they’re churning out several-hundred-piece Legomobiles instead of real cars.
But professors are confident their students are getting the principles that will suit them for the state’s burgeoning auto industry.
“We have installed all of the best manufacturing practices to provide students experiential learning, ” says Tom Devall, who is director of automotive initiatives in the department of industrial and systems engineering. “We are modeling the Toyota production system, or lean manufacturing, which has transformed the global auto industry. Our students will be well versed in these tools and systems, better preparing them for jobs in the automotive manufacturing industry.”
In producing their 278-piece Speedster, 254-piece SUV and 231-piece Baja car, students use “robotics, programmable logic controlled conveyors, electronic vision inspection and auto storage and retrieval for raw stock inventory, ” the university reports, even learning about preventive and predictive maintenance.
By Nedra Bloom