Exceeding Manufacturing Standards: RDC’s Innovative Solution for Toyota Boshoku Illinois

Mike Smith

Mike Smith

January, 2024

They say, “Compromise is the way ahead.” But what do you do when there is no room to compromise? What happens when raising manufacturing standards is required and lowering construction standards isn’t possible? At the corner of high manufacturing standards and high construction expectations is Robert Dietrick Company, your Industrial Solutions Provider.

Toyota Boshoku Illinois, LLC (TBIL) is a premier manufacturer of automotive interior components in southeastern Illinois. Assistant Manager, Jeremy Brown, was tasked with creating an area in his facility with higher process standards than the rest of the plant. TBIL needed to reduce the area’s noise level from 78 decibels to a maximum of 65 decibels. Jeremy had to solve this problem quickly and cleanly and ensure future flexibility by not making any permanent facility changes. Jeremy’s team found the right spot for the new manufacturing area and began assessing avenues to turn the imagined space into a reality.

TBIL Logo
Problem

As soon as project planning began, obstacles surfaced.

  • Space: To allow sufficient room for the enclosure, it would have to sit much closer to existing production lines than the team expected. This created safety concerns for employees only a few feet away, as well as quality risks that traditional construction methods would yield due to sawdust, drywall dust, grinding, and drilling. Shutting down production wasn’t an option and jeopardizing worker safety sure wasn’t either.
  • Accessibility: Concerns regarding necessary maintenance on new conveyor lines arose, too. Erecting a hard wall against conveyors wouldn’t allow space for maintenance on a motor, photoeye, belt, etc. that may need repair.
  • Obstructions: Extending walls up to the ceiling presented issues as well. Electrical conduits, pipelines, air ducts, power buses, and other obstructions lived high up in the ceiling. How could a wall be constructed here without interrupting these critical lines?
  • Budget: The last challenge the project faced was making sure it was completed promptly and on budget. Traditional construction requires a lot of time and a lot of labor, leading to both higher monetary and time costs. Not to mention that traditional walls allow for very limited flexibility.

Jeremy and his team were faced with a choice. If they decided to enclose the needed space with traditional construction methods, they’d have to compromise safety, quality, budget, and productivity. That’s when the Toyota Boshoku Illinois team reached out to Robert Dietrick Company, hoping for an outside-of-the-box industrial solution. RDC Salesperson, Eric Hillenbrand, sat down with TBIL to discuss their needs and challenges. Eric reached out to several manufacturers that RDC represents such as Rite-Hite, Portafab, and BEA and started planning a multi-faceted solution to address TBIL’s needs while keeping safety, productivity, and quality at the forefront. After many surveys, meetings, and conversations, Eric and the RDC team provided a comprehensive Industrial Solution to TBIL’s problem.

TBIL Portafab Wall

Portafab Freestanding Wall

Solution

The first part of the solution separated the space from the rest of the facility by utilizing products from Portafab, a modular panel manufacturer. Portafab products formed a freestanding wall to create part of the enclosure. The rigid steel uprights of the wall framed openings that three high-speed doors would mount to. The wall also featured strong, full-vision glass for complete visibility in and out of the space. Portafab products are engineered to attach to a variety of new and existing wall conditions. In this case, the wall was attached to an existing metal wall on each end. However, it only reached a height of 12’, which led Eric and his team to address the next problem – expanding the wall up to the ceiling.

TBIL Portafab Wall

Portafab Freestanding Wall

TBIL Portafab Wall

Portafab Freestanding Wall

Solution

The first part of the solution separated the space from the rest of the facility by utilizing products from Portafab, a modular panel manufacturer. Portafab products formed a freestanding wall to create part of the enclosure. The rigid steel uprights of the wall framed openings that three high-speed doors would mount to. The wall also featured strong, full-vision glass for complete visibility in and out of the space. Portafab products are engineered to attach to a variety of new and existing wall conditions. In this case, the wall was attached to an existing metal wall on each end. However, it only reached a height of 12’, which led Eric and his team to address the next problem – expanding the wall up to the ceiling.

TBIL Portafab Wall

Portafab Freestanding Wall

This led to the second facet of the solution. To close the gap from the top of the freestanding wall to the ceiling, Eric implemented another manufacturer’s product, Zoneworks by Rite-Hite. This fabric, industrial curtain wall material is insulated, acoustically rated, flame retardant, and 99.5% anti-microbial which makes it a great fit for a variety of applications. It was an integral part of the TBIL solution because it could be cut, notched, drilled through, etc. to work around obstacles at the ceiling level. Power buses, conduits, and pipes could pass through the curtain uninhibited and leave a finished, custom appearance behind.

Zoneworks Curtain Wall

Zoneworks Curtain Wall

This led to the second facet of the solution. To close the gap from the top of the freestanding wall to the ceiling, Eric implemented another manufacturer’s product, Zoneworks by Rite-Hite. This fabric, industrial curtain wall material is insulated, acoustically rated, FDA compliant and can be used in a variety of applications. It was an integral part of the TBIL solution because it could be cut, notched, drilled through, etc. to work around obstacles at the ceiling level. Power buses, conduits, and pipes could pass through the curtain uninhibited and leave a finished, custom appearance behind.

Zoneworks Curtain Wall

Zoneworks Curtain Wall

Zoneworks Sliding Curtain Wall

Zoneworks Sliding Curtain Wall

There was still another large problem to tackle, though – accessibility to the conveyor line. Large conveyors would need to enter/exit the area without hard walls blocking them, and they would need room for regular maintenance. To address this, RDC applied a Zoneworks sliding curtain wall by Rite-Hite. A rail was mounted underneath a metal wall header, and the Zoneworks sliding curtain was hung as a divider. This was the ideal solution because it could move out of the way for any future maintenance and service, ensuring the space remained divided but accessible.

There was still another large problem to tackle, though – accessibility to the conveyor line. Large conveyors would need to enter/exit the area without hard walls blocking them, and they would need room for regular maintenance. To address this, RDC applied a Zoneworks sliding curtain wall by Rite-Hite. A rail was mounted underneath a metal wall header, and the Zoneworks sliding curtain was hung as a divider. This was the ideal solution because it could move out of the way for any future maintenance and service, ensuring the space remained divided but accessible.

Zoneworks Sliding Curtain Wall

Zoneworks Sliding Curtain Wall

The final aspect of the project utilized high-speed doors by Rite-Hite for added accessibility to the area. One Fastrax door and two LiteSpeed doors were installed along the longest section of the Portafab freestanding wall so product could move in and out of the new area quickly and safely. Widescan sensors by BEA were installed on the doors and programmed with virtual pull cord activation. Drivers must pull up to the door and wait 3 seconds, so the door will raise only after forklifts have come to a complete stop. This added a hands-free solution to door activation while making the openings safer for those on either side.

Rite-Hite LiteSpeed Door

Rite-Hite LiteSpeed Door

The final aspect of the project utilized high-speed doors by Rite-Hite for added accessibility to the area. One Fastrax door and two LiteSpeed doors were installed along the longest section of the Portafab freestanding wall so product could move in and out of the new area quickly and safely. Widescan sensors by BEA were installed on the doors and programmed with virtual pull cord activation. Drivers must pull up to the door and wait 3 seconds, so the door will raise only after forklifts have come to a complete stop. This added a hands-free solution to door activation while making the openings safer for those on either side.

Rite-Hite LiteSpeed Door

Rite-Hite LiteSpeed Door

Results
  • The project was completed in under two weeks, by two technicians, resulting in a budget-friendly solution.
  • Wall construction employed no dust or disturbance to the surrounding environment, so existing production lines and employees could continue their jobs safely. No quality, safety, or productivity was affected during construction.
  • Wall construction and the efficiency of the high-speed doors led to the added benefit of a cooler workspace, resulting in higher employee comfort and even higher manufacturing standards than initially anticipated.
  • The project exceeded the noise level goal by reducing the decibel level from 78 to 63, compared to the 65-decibel requirement.
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