Vehicle manufacturers tout advanced electronic amenities such as cruise control, parking assist, vision systems, and object detection through cameras and other products. Such electronics not only add convenience, but they also make driving safer. Given the dominance of Asian companies in consumer electronics, you might think auto manufacturers with North American operations turn to overseas suppliers. However, the reality is that many keep operations domestic with companies like Magna, a Holly, Michigan-based automotive supplier that can produce more than 185,000 electronic products per week.
Magna might not be a household name, but it is one of the world’s largest tier one suppliers in the automotive space, with 174,000 employees across 351 manufacturing operations in 30 countries. In Season 3, Episode 2 of the IMTS+ Original Series of “Manufacturing Explorers,” brought to you by Mazak, my son Max and I meet another father-son duo, Magna General Manager John Cunningham and Manufacturing Engineer Alex Cunningham, who give us an inside look at some of the company’s products and electronic manufacturing capabilities.
The episode starts with Max in the driver’s seat of a 2022 Toyota Tundra, where he tries to back up a trailer with and without the “trailer assist” function developed by Magna. By feeding sensor information into a microprocessor, the trailer assist function automatically backs up a trailer, which is a godsend for those who do not back up trailers on a regular basis.
John and Alex then take us on a tour of the facility, starting with the surface mount technology (SMT) line that produces printed circuit boards (PCBs). This automated system places hundreds of miniscule electronic components with pinpoint accuracy at a “ridiculously high speed” of up to 140,000 components an hour. Combining speed, accuracy, consistency, and manufacturing quality has enabled Magna to become a market leader.
The final stop on the tour was the manufacturing cell where Magna produces LiDAR components. Faster and more accurate than radar, LiDAR will be an essential component of autonomous driving. While the Manufacturing Explorers cameras were not allowed to show details, we walked away revved up about the future of automotive technology.
Buckle up and join us as we tour other innovative companies that provide high-tech parts and ideas to automotive giants in the third season of the IMTS+ Original Series “Manufacturing Explorers,” brought to you by Mazak, at IMTS.com/ManufacturingExplorers. In the first episode, we visit Munro to learn about lean design, and in the third episode, we get to know 6K Energy, which developed a green process that enables a diverse and reliable supply chain for EV battery components.