Salvador Ramírez
General Manager
IMS Buhrke-Olson de Monterrey
View from the Top

Automotive Industry Remains Top Priority for IMS Buhrke-Olson

Tue, 09/15/2015 - 16:40

Q: What is IMS Buhrke-Olson’s area of expertise and which OEMs do you currently supply form your Mexican facilities?

A: Our facility in Matamoros, Tamaulipas has been operating for more than 25 years. In 2007 we saw a beneficial trend in Monterrey, so we decided to make an investment and that plant is the newest of three that belong to the IMS Buhrke- Olson division. Our main customers are GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda. Airbag systems and different modules that will accommodate knee, curtain, and passenger airbags are part of our area of expertise. The company also possesses significant knowledge of automotive cooling systems, which is where most of our aluminum products are used. We have noticed that interacting with design engineers is imperative to understanding our customer’s requirements, so we work with them from the design process onward.

Q: When sourcing human capital, where does IMS Buhrke- Olson find its best engineers?

A: In Mexico we hire engineers that are willing to grow with the company. We have training programs for teaching engineers the techniques of the metal stamping and assembly process, alongside our quality philosophies. Over that period of time, we send them to the US where we have special equipment for such purposes. Metal stamping is a risky business, so our main focus is to put safety on top of everything. The philosophy of IMS Buhrke-Olson is to ensure that our employees feel safe in our manufacturing environment. Since we provide precision metal stampings and assemblies, we try to meet the mid- to high-level salaries for our workers, as well as working more as a family than as a hierarchy.

Q: How are IMS Buhrke-Olson’s automation processes evolving, and what effect are they having on the company’s human capital in Mexico?

A: At IMS Buhrke-Olson we procure semi-automated, or fully-automated robots and equipment to supply defect- free products. We introduced automation alongside our Monterrey facility in 2007 and we have strong support from our Arlington Heights division to keep adding this equipment. It has definitely affected manpower, but this becomes very attractive to our engineering and maintenance departments who can enhance their skills. I feel that automation will continue to play a larger role in our company over the coming years.

Q: How does IMS Buhrke-Olson plan ahead when considering the next new automotive innovations?

A: The company has an engineering group that shares best practices in our facilities to produce a safe working environment, incorporating procedures that focus on the safety of humans, machines, and tools. We try to incorporate in-die measurement systems so we can monitor part-to- part and stroke-to-stroke critical dimensions to make sure that the product fulfils our customer’s requirements. Since we have a lot of assemblies that are used for the airbag modules, we are looking for the industry’s best welding, sensor, and monitoring equipment. Welding is one of the most important methods for assembling our components in the automotive industry. All of our facilities are ISO TS- 6949 certified, so our focus on procedures to support the manufacturing process is developed to meet the industry’s high standards, ensuring good quality and punctual delivery to our customers.

Q: How is metal stamping technology evolving, and what is IMS Buhrke-Olson doing to prepare for the future?

A: Our IMS Buhrke-Olson R&D team in Illinois is looking for the best technologies to develop the finest stamping and assembly processes. We are supported by specialized facilities that use software to test how the part will react, even before a die is fully designed. Within the stamping industry, the presses are generally the same as they were 30 or 40 years ago. That mechanical press has not changed, but the protection inside the die is always improving, and that is how we attract our customers. We do a lot of in-die sensing which, when combined with other in-die process applications, helps us ensure that each key characteristic for our customer is monitored during the production process. The latest technologies for in-die and press protection, laser sensors, vision systems, and all the types of technologies that will prevent the tool from breaking and the press from being damaged have been incorporated.