Detroit was given the name “Motor City” for a reason – it was the global center of the automotive industry at the turn of the 20th century, where skilled workers and innovation flourished. As things change, so too will they remain the same, and viewers will find that out in Season Three of “Road Trippin’ with Steve,” when host Stephen LaMarca, AMT’s technology analyst, visits Detroit to drop in on Stellantis, LIFT, and FANUC.
An IMTS+ Original Series, Season Three of “Road Trippin’ with Steve" premieres July 27 on IMTS.com.
The first stop was Stellantis’ Detroit Assembly Complex – Jefferson. Spread over 3 million square feet, the facility houses an army of robots working as a team. Its assembly line includes the Jeep® Grand Cherokee, Jeep® Grand Cherokee 4xe, and Dodge® Durango.
“It was the first time I’ve seen that many robots. It was like watching synchronized swimming. It was like watching a play,” says LaMarca. “However, the thing that blew me away was the pride behind their product. Each worker genuinely loved being there.”
Next stop: LIFT, which is operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense, industry, and academia, and one of the Manufacturing USA institutes.
“In areas where our education system has failed, LIFT is doing its best to pick it up,” says LaMarca. “In terms of technology, they cover everything from welding to automation and robotics to metal additive. If we have a skills gap in manufacturing, then down the road we are absolutely going to have a skills gap problem in stuff like material science.”
A visit to FANUC America, the automation segment leader’s North American headquarters, is a rite of passage in the manufacturing industry and Steve’s next stop on his road trip.
“It’s almost entirely a research and development lab dedicated to improving their products and proof-of-concept reliability testing,” says LaMarca. A separate 600,000-square-foot facility is “packed with robots,” where FANUC installs customer-requested end-of-arm tooling in accessory packages, wraps them up, and gets them ready for shipping.
“I learned FANUC welcomed competition from other robot companies,” he says. “It's not something that they shy away from because competition makes them better.”
LaMarca has the keys to all three of these innovative Motor City companies. Jump in and enjoy the ride in Season Three of “Road Trippin’ with Steve.” If you haven’t checked them out yet, watch the first two seasons on IMTS+ on IMTS.com, where you can find more videos, articles, and content highlighting our manufacturing community.