“Sometimes we learn the most when the heat is on.” Those words were spoken by my good friend and MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology colleague, Butch Keeter. This fall, our MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology team was presented with a unique challenge that turned the heat on, not only in meeting critical deadlines, but in engineering creativity, manufacturing ingenuity, and customer expectations. We emerged successful, with a few new lessons under our belt, and a great story to tell.
In August, our sales team was presented with a potential business opportunity to supply an air filter to a distribution company that supplies air filters to a high-volume customer. They needed several thousand specially-designed filters by early November.
The requirements for the filter design proved to be a challenge, as the customer requested that a wingnut be attached to the filter’s closed metal endcap. The purpose of a wingnut is to secure the filter to the heavy-duty filter housing to provide enough compression to the filter gasket to achieve a proper seal, and eliminate dirt bypass. On similar filters, the wingnut is simply included in the filter box; however, due to the customer’s unique needs, the wingnut needed to be already affixed to the endcap. This would allow the filter to be installed and removed quickly without having to fumble around or keep track of a loose wingnut.
The customer’s current filter used a “swaging” technique to permanently attach the wingnut to the metal endcap. Our engineering team made the decision to duplicate that design. A new air filter design presents its own set of unique challenges, but toss in a new component design, a new manufacturing process, and an extremely tight timeline, and you often have the recipe for disaster. I knew what we were up against before embarking on this project, but I also knew what kind of people work at MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology, and that we would do anything possible to satisfy a customer and deliver the product on-time. I was confident that we would find a way to get this done – and that’s exactly what we did.
The design work and manufacturing prints were quickly completed, and a plan was put into action. Our purchasing team did a fantastic job to receive parts quickly, which was a testament to the relationships our purchasing team has built with our suppliers. The sourcing of the wingnut proved difficult due to the requirements needed for the swaging technique. Our wingnut supplier sent in several variations that our Tool & Die Shop used to design a tool and manufacturing process that could produce the swaged wingnut. The Tool & Die Shop and fabrication team cannot be thanked enough for their willingness to jump in head-first and come up with a solution as fast as they did.
In early October, we were ready for a trial run, which went very well, and samples were sent for customer review. It turned out the customer had envisioned a slightly different filter design; however, our team was able to identify exactly what the customer was looking for, and put a new plan into motion. The revised design required several new component parts, and time was not on our side.
We knew we would find a way to get the job done – Just as we always do. In early November, over 12,000 filters were produced across five shifts on Line 10 at the Allen Plant, and then shipped to the MDC to fulfill the special packaging requirements. Six trailer loads of filters arrived at their final destination with just a few days to spare.
This project is a testament to hard work and a team commitment across all company functions. These are the type of things that make working for MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology such a satisfying experience. Nearly every department in MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology – from manufacturing, fabrication, engineering, quality, sales, packaging, and distribution – contributed to this success. To know that you have a team like this behind you every step of the way is a powerful tool.