Advanced Auto Trends, a small family-owned plastic injection molder with plants in Snover and Oxford, has been consistently enhancing their technology and skillset to become one of the most advanced plastic injection molders within the State of Michigan. Their contracts are expanding into large highly complex parts, which require absolutely zero defects. This in turn requires the addition of more advanced technology and machines, putting AAT on a strong upward trajectory.
We began this journey together several years ago by funding electronics, PLC controls, robotics, and other courses, through the Skilled Trades Training Fund, Going Pro Talent Fund, and Incumbent Worker Training. This facilitated the first phase of their technological advancement into robots and electronic vision systems. Most of their products now require several small metal fittings to be molded into them. This technology has allowed AAT to maintain their efficiency and quality with robots and vision systems incorporated into most of their production cells.
During this time of growth, their customers have demanded adherence to ever-tightening quality standards, which is now 100% zero defects. This led to Advanced Auto Trends working with the Michigan based RJG company, who specializes in electronic/computerized plastic injection technology. We have assisted with training simultaneously as this technology was introduced. Advanced Auto Trends has been phasing in RJG’s eDart system which consists of electronic sensors of mold temperature and pressure, electronic servo-motor controlled gate valves, and finally, computerized controls and artificial intelligence.
We began phase one together, with the funding of advanced injection molding science, and eDart level one courses, which coincided with the insertion of electronic sensors into their molds. This process was very successful, so they advanced into phase two, which was the introduction of electronic gate valves into their molds. This allows for very precise control of plastic flow and pressure throughout the entire mold. AAT has recently completed eDart level two training, corresponding to this technology. GST has recently funded this training for seven people at a cost of $4,771 through the Incumbent Worker Training Program. This training project and technology enhancement has been so successful that AAT immediately advanced into the final phase, which is a fully automated work cell controlled by computers and artificial intelligence. Advanced Auto Trends is currently completing the final level of eDart training through their own funding with their Manufacturing Engineer and two of his staff. They will then train the necessary staff on the operation of this technology.
What you see in these pictures is the final phase of eDart training, along with the setting up and final calibration of their first production cell incorporating all of the technology outlined above. When complete, this cell will run autonomously with very little human interaction while producing perfect, zero-defect parts. Once this cell is fully dialed in, they will immediately begin the installation of another identical cell to keep up with the production demands of the Ford Motor Company.
This achievement is the capstone of several years of working with AAT to fulfill their training needs. Like many other manufacturers, AAT has found it very difficult to recruit and retain entry-level workers, which has even resulted in machines sitting idle due to a lack of workers to operate them.
This technology will help to alleviate some of this pressure while creating vast new opportunities for career advancement for their current staff, and the recruitment and hiring of more advanced technicians.