Custom products for antique cars with the click of a mouse
It all started when Timothy Cox needed to replace the tarpaper firewall insulator in the 1931 Buick that he was restoring. There was nothing available on the market, so he experimented with fiberglass molding to create replacement firewall insulator panel. Word spread among antique and classic car hobbyists, and Cox soon opened a small business manufacturing a growing variety of automotive firewalls. Today, Cox co-owns QuietRide Solutions (QRS) with his wife, Jackie, and the Stockton, CA based company serves the antique, classic and street rod automotive market, manufacturing nearly 10,000 different products to “Make Your Car or Truck Cool and Quiet Inside”.
Manufacturing insulation products for just about every vehicle brand name imaginable from originally built between 1928 to 2016 is not easy. Product sales vary wildly from day to day, and with consumer expectations for fast delivery rising, along with the popularity of the Internet, the company needed to increase production speed, efficiency and product delivery. Cox, said that with such a variety of unique automotive products available, we do not stock finished goods. Instead, “QRS uses the ‘manufacturing on demand principle’—when the customer places an order, it is scheduled into the production cycle and is shipped within five to seven days.”
Complex patterns made easy with the versatile cutting system
QuietRide Solutions manufactures five product lines using a variety of raw materials including a ⅜” thick aluminum covered thermal barrier insulation (Heat Shield), heavy vinyl rubber and ABS plastic.
QRS AcoustiShield Automotive Thermal Insulation products are produced on a 12-foot Autometrix table. Each kit may have from one to a dozen separate pieces that are cut from 75 foot rolls of heat shield material and then packaged into a kit for a vehicle floor, roof, trunk, cowl or body panel kit. With digital technology, each kit has its own file name saved in the QRS Library. “We simply bring up the file needed on the Autometrix software screen, and in three to five minutes, the material is cut and ready to be packaged.” The Autometrix table is also used to cut AcoustiTrunk rubber floor mats and many of the AcoustiHood ABS Under Hood covers.
QRS had one employee dedicated to create a unique insulation kit for the Freightliner SportChassis trucks; and it would take 30 days to hand-cut and assemble 30 kits. With Autometrix, that job could be accomplished in two days.
Technology was the key to increasing production
“Technology turned our world right side up,” said Cox. Eight years ago, QuietRide had a staff of 12, hand cutting and punching ABS plastic products and the production time was around 3 to 5 weeks Today, a staff of five turns out three to four times the amount of product on any given day. As another example of the production benefits of Autometrix cutting solutions, QRS manufactured a unique insulation kit for the Freightliner SportChassis trucks. They had one employee dedicated to this contract and it would take 30 days to hand-cut and assemble 30 kits. With Autometrix, that job could be accomplished in two days.
CADShot and PatternSmith reduce firewall pattern conversion time from days to hours.
The product that inspired this whole business — firewall Insulators — were the most time consuming product to manufacture, and QuietRide manufactures over 600 of them.
Seeing the speed and accuracy they had come to expect from the products being turned out on the Autometrix equipment, started them to explore technology that would speed up the processing of cutting ABS Plastic products. They settled on a Flow Water Jet System and found software that would bridge PatternSmith output files that could be read by Flow.
CADShot and PatternSmith simplified the conversion process and has been pushed way beyond the traditional “X-Y” cutting table.
QRS uses CADShot and PatternSmith to digitize a multi-level firewall insulator pattern, and then convert the image to a DXF file that can be read by their Flow Water Jet system. Here, they add the ”Z” elevations to control the cutting head and other finite details. “About 95 percent of the pattern conversion process is done in about two hours with PatternSmith,” Cox said. Once the pattern is proofed it is ready for the production line and the file can be called up by part name. “The time and frustration saved on staff development was tremendous,” he said. “We are about 92 percent digital at this point for our product conversions and all new products start from the digital perspective.
“The beauty of this system is that if a customer requests certain holes to be deleted—for instance, a heater box— we can temporarily delete the holes or other cutouts to make a “one-off” custom firewall insulator cover, without overwriting the file,” Cox said.
What does all of this do to production time? A typical ABS firewall insulator pattern will take about 90 minutes for an average technician to cut and punch with hand tools. Production time with a digitized pattern on Flow is now about seven minutes and the product is “perfect” every time.
PatternSmith helps with marketing!
The list of innovative uses that QRS has applied to their daily operations with the Autometrix Systems seems to be endless. Cox said they are maximizing the potential of PatternSmith software for their product graphic illustrations. He explains “we have also found a way to convert the Autometrix images from cutting files to Adobe Illustrator JPG files so that we can use very accurate pattern illustrations of our products in our 100 plus automotive catalogs.”
QuietRide is proud to call Autometrix Inc their partner in success for the past ten years. To see their cutting machine in action, watch this video. Or, visit the PatternSmith page to learn how Autometrix products can save your business time and money.