Ask a veteran assembler for directions around an auto assembly plant, and you’ll likely get introduced to world geography.“Turn right at the Eifel Tower. Stop when you get to Empire State. If you see the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ve gone too far.”
Nicknames for towering pieces of industrial equipment fill every plant. To automakers, those big fixtures are the enemy, and if plant managers had their way, they’d tear down every one of them.
“They want us to design tooling and equipment that can be installed quickly. They don’t want monuments. That’s the word they use,” says Paul Meloche, vice president of sales at Fori Automation, a company that makes work-handling equipment and automation systems. “They don’t want a fixture that takes weeks to install, that requires changes to the concrete, or pits or trenches in the floor.”