Manufacturer of automotive air conditioning and engine cooling components and systems, and lead production facility for DENSO’s Thermal Systems North American Center (TAC)
Bracket Challenge Helps PC Teams Achieve Quality Targets
The highest honor a Ph.D. candidate can receive at Western Michigan University is the All-University Excellence Award. Nagdev Amruthnath, Data Scientist III in the Internet of Things (IoT) department at DENSO’s thermal manufacturing facility in Battle Creek, received this award when he graduated with his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering this spring.
The University does not make this decision lightly, Nagdev said. After being unanimously nominated by his department, Nagdev began a month-long process, sharing everything from his resume to research papers and publications for consideration.
“This is just a stepping stone for the things I want to achieve and contribute to science and betterment of the society,” Nagdev said.
Nagdev started working at DENSO as a summer intern in 2014 while he pursued his masters and then doctorate degrees at WMU. He spent more than three years in Total Industrial Engineering (TIE) before being hired as DENSO’s first data scientist in Battle Creek.
“When I started at DENSO, I had no idea if I was going to stay here long-term,” Nagdev said. “But everything fell into place. I was looking for a new job in data science and big data outside of DENSO when I learned they were looking for someone to fill a role that lined up with my research and passion.”
As an intern, Nagdev observed how often machines would need to stop for repairs, slowing down production, increasing associate overtime and causing the production line to miss their performance goals. This is when he decided to focus his research on preventative maintenance, recognizing the potential to help associates and increase profitability.
Combining his real-world experience and doctoral research was very successful; Nagdev has published 10 papers and will be receiving a patent. A lot of his research ideas were inspired by the projects and people he works with at DENSO.
“Everything, every day is challenging, especially in my role,” Nagdev said. “I get a lot of opportunity to explore new things and people are open to new suggestions and projects and I want to help them.”
Nagdev said his next educational goal is to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration. But first, Nagdev is celebrating a major milestone outside the classroom, being newly married this summer.
“I always say nothing is impossible as long as you are willing to put time and resources towards it. That’s what I tell people when starting a new project, nothing is impossible.”
The next CoA (common, compact, collaborative) HVAC line started production at DENSO’s manufacturing facility in Battle Creek on July 22. Although it is the second CoA line, associates throughout the region made sure it is a project filled with firsts.
“The goal for this project was localization, and it was a huge development opportunity,” said Mike Curbey, HVAC Engineering Manager. “This is the first CoA line in the world to be built 100% locally.”
CoA2 is also the first HVAC line with IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity and the first line at DENSO in Battle Creek with a collaborative robot.
Senior Engineering Technician Eric Paulson said that the team at DENSO in Battle Creek worked closely with machine builders at DENSO in Maryville, Tennessee on the localization effort.
“One of our biggest challenges was helping the machine builders understand our needs exactly,” Eric said. “We were starting with something originally designed in Japan and asking the DENSO Tennessee team to build it to the specifications of our local needs in Michigan. We just had to figure all of that out.”
The new line will produce HVACs for three Subaru models produced in the United States. Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) has already recognized the line as a world-class process.
Congratulations to everyone that made the HVAC Auto Line 2 a reality over the last two years. This is a big step towards DENSO’s future!
Through 24 years of service at DENSO in Battle Creek, Machine Technician Art Fields has never called in sick. Yes! 24 years of being at work on time, every day that he is scheduled.
“My dad helped instill my work ethic. If you want something, you need to work hard for it and take pride in the work you do,” Art said.
After starting as a temporary, Art was hired in as an associate in the same area that he works in today, building radiators for automotive engine cooling modules. As a production associate, he enjoyed opportunities to work on machines and problem solve with the Machine Technician in his area. This inspired him to become one, a job he’s held since 1998.
Working at DENSO means Art has worked with people from a lot of different cultures, one of his favorite things about the company. Regardless of background, though, Art said his coworkers are always polite and willing to help.
Art enjoys participating in company-sponsored events such as golf outings, bass tournaments, company picnics and sports outings. Outside of work, Art keeps himself busy with his hobbies and activities with his family. He fishes with the Battle Creek Bass Busters every Saturday during the season and plays disc golf multiple times a week to stay active.
Art said he has witnessed a lot of growth and change at DENSO during more than two decades in Battle Creek.
“When I first started I saw how clean the place was and how they cared about their people. I knew it was a long-term company that wouldn’t be going anywhere, so I wanted to be hired in.”
“It’s been a good feeling watching DENSO grow – I’ve seen it expand and add on at least 5 times. My goal is to retire here.”
Congratulations Art, and thank you for your dedication!
Know an associate with an interesting story to tell or milestone to celebrate? Email DMMI_Communications@denso-diam.com.
Thanks to the Social Activities Committee for offering everyone a cool refreshing treat! And thanks to the DENSO Spirit Team for getting everyone to share what teamwork means to us!
Don’t forget to like your favorite photos on DENSO’s Facebook Page!
Bradley Farman loves to learn. In addition to living in three countries and learning three languages, he decided to apply for a summer internship at DENSO.
A mechanical engineering student at Montana State University, Bradley wanted to find an internship in the automotive industry. A family connection led him to apply for an engineering internship at DENSO’s thermal facility in Battle Creek, Michigan. After interviewing for the position, the offer to work in the Condenser Engineering department brought him from Montana to Michigan to help kaizen condenser processes.
“The most valuable thing I’ve learned here is how to take a project with a big scope and break it down into bite sized, more manageable parts,” Bradley said.
Bradley is the intern who traveled the farthest to spend the summer at DENSO, but travel is nothing new to Bradley, who has lived in more than eight cities and three countries in his life. He also enjoys learning new languages. He is currently learning French, having English, Spanish, and Japanese under his belt already.
Thanks for sharing your talents with us this summer, Bradley!
Who knew a bin of scrap materials could save DENSO $223,000? Ron Carr made this happen on a global innerfin condenser (GIC) production line at DENSO Manufacturing Michigan (DMMI) in Battle Creek.
Ron’s idea took just one hour to build, but it’s had tremendous impact. He used leftover SUS materials to build a lazy-susan turntable that allows associates to rotate cores easier and faster. A sensor in the middle of the turntable also helps parts move when associates are ready for the next step. This has helped reduce cycle time, in addition to improving safety and reducing the risk of repetitive strain injuries for associates.
Ultimately, Ron’s idea reduced both the number of people needed to build the part and the time it takes to build it. These savings really add up! In addition to saving DENSO $223,000 per year, Ron also submitted the idea to the DMMI associate suggestion program called BEAM—Because Every Associate Matters. Through BEAM associates receive a portion of the cost savings for one year. Ron’s turntable idea earned him over $8,000.
“My family loves to take trips together, so this money will help us do that,” Ron said.
Ron was also able to crossline his idea to new GIC lines. During his four years as a DENSO associate, he submitted multiple BEAMs before moving to his current Team Leader position, and says that submitting a BEAM is a fun way to stay engaged at work.
“I encourage my Subleader and Machine Tech to do a BEAM every year. It’s an awesome program and there are a lot of people with great ideas out here that could be implemented.”
Associates with a great improvement idea to share can contact Associate Relations or the Manufacturing Improvement Team to learn more about the BEAM submission process.
When MacKenna Eddy used her passion for art to stand up for something she believes in, the reward was larger than life.
MacKenna, daughter of Condenser Engineering Technician Thomas Eddy, is the winner of the 2019 Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force Youth Billboard Design Competition. The contest is held annually during high school prom season to bring awareness to the problems of underage drinking.
As the winner out of over 50 submissions, MacKenna had the opportunity to share her voice in a big way. Her poster design was made into a full sized billboard displayed around Kalamazoo County. She also received movie tickets, and had the opportunity to record a local public service announcement.
Tom said MacKenna waited to tell him and his wife about the contest until she found out she won, so they were both surprised and thrilled when they heard the news.
“It was an exciting day when we found out she won!” Tom said. “It was one of those proud parent moments, seeing her taking a stand against something like underage drinking.”
This fall, MacKenna will be a senior at Climax High School. In her spare time, Tom says she can be found painting, fulfilling her passion for art. She also loves being outdoors, and their summers are full of trips to the lake to go fishing.
It was only a small piece of plastic that brushed Jacob Klepper’s work boot, but he knew it was a big deal.
Jacob has been building and packing engine cooling modules at DENSO Manufacturing Michigan for over a year now, so he recognized the piece could have been broken off of a finished part headed for a customer. He immediately stopped the line and called his Team Leader, Stan Thuazathang.
Stan arranged for Jacob to conduct a sort of finished parts in the warehouse, determined to find the source of the broken unit. An hour and a half later, Jacob discovered the broken radiator and removed it to be repaired.
“I knew the prong was a customer use point, so we could have received a quality defect claim,” Jacob said. “That would have cost DENSO a lot of time and money if it had gotten to the customer’s assembly line, so I’m glad I was able to find it.”
Stan said this is not the first defect that Jacob has found, and appreciates his hard work and dedication to protecting DENSO’s customers.
“Jacob is a really great worker,” Stan said. “His attention to detail is excellent, and I know we can count on him to speak up when he sees something wrong. That’s really important for all of our associates, so Jacob is setting a great example.”
DENSO in Battle Creek is lucky to have 10 college interns working throughout the facility this summer. One of them is Hannah Pearl, a University of Michigan (U of M) student. She is spending the summer in the Total Industrial Engineering (TIE) department, focusing on implementing autonomous mobile robots into the radiator and ECM final assembly areas.
Hannah has several years of DENSO experience. Last summer, she interned with Production Control TIE and helped launch a yard management system. Before college, Hannah was involved with DENSO through a high school internship program in heater core and evaporator engineering while she attended the Battle Creek Math & Science Center.
“The people at DENSO are my favorite part,” Hannah said. “It’s awesome when you walk down the hall and everyone is friendly and will talk to you.”
At school Hannah is a campus tour leader and volunteers her time with Young Life, a youth group for middle schoolers. She enjoys traveling, and has a goal to be out of the country at least once a year. So far, a service trip to Mexico has been her favorite because she loved bringing hope into people’s lives.
This fall, Hannah will begin her junior year at U of M, continuing her studies in Industrial and Operations Engineering.
Thanks for being a part of the DENSO team, Hannah!
Basketball and quality targets may seem like an unlikely combination, but the DENSO Production Control (PC) team in Battle Creek combined the two into a competitive March Madness Critical Lockout Challenge with championship results.
PC teams were divided into ECM and HVAC plant brackets and advanced based on the smallest number of critical lockouts. Lockouts can occur when parts in the warehouse are scanned to the wrong order, or if parts are not scanned into inventory.
“Lockouts are the tip of an iceberg, so if we manage them properly we’ll see improvements throughout the whole process that better protect our customers,” said Derrick Boyd, PC Section Leader. “Every day, at least 40 people are scanning parts for more than a dozen customers going on about 120 trucks, so we need ways to help everyone stay focused on what they’re doing.”
The challenge was fun for associates, and also helped DMMI achieve their lowest month of critical lockouts for the year. The top two teams ended the competition strong, having zero lockouts during the entire 4 week challenge! HVAC Plant finalists were team “Uncle Charlie” including Richard Martin, Jaymes Marriott, and Audra Blowers. The ECM Plant winner was “Team Adam” including Damion Adams, Timothy Barnes, and James Ayer.
“Lockouts put our customer at risk,” said Damion Adams, Advanced Associate. “This challenge got competitive because everyone was striving to do their personal best, so it helps us better focus on our job and do our part to keep customers happy.”
Team Adam was ultimately declared the champion because they had more opportunities for lockouts to occur. Each team member was awarded a Lockout Champion T-shirt and a $50 gift card. Runners-up were also awarded gift cards.
“The goal is to keep lowering our EPM (Errors per Million) by continuing to motivate our associates through challenges like this, bringing their attention to what causes lockouts, making process improvements and making sure our production team stocks in parts accurately to avoid delays and ensure high levels of inventory accuracy,” said Adam Senchuk, PC Manager.
Jeremy Shirey – Estimated completion: July 2019
Jeremy enjoyed being part of a team and resolving a variety of challenging tasks in his Machine Finishing rotation. He is thankful for all the talented individuals who have helped him throughout the program, and believes DENSO is fortunate to have so many skilled journeymen!
When he’s not at DENSO Jeremy loves spending as much time as he can with his wife and their new puppy.
Andrew Fry – Completed April 2019
Andy is thankful for everyone who helped him grow his skill set, as well as his wife who supported him and accommodated to his changing schedule during the program. His favorite part of the Apprenticeship Program was Machine Finishing.
When he’s not working, Andy spends as much time as he can on the lake with his family.
In 1997, the DMMI Scholarship Fund was started to assist children of DMMI associates with the rising costs of higher education. Winners are chosen by a BCCF (Battle Creek Community Foundation) panel based on activities and work experience. This year, $1,500 scholarships were awarded to three children of DENSO associates who are going on to earn advanced degrees. The 2019 recipients are Co Nguyen, Olivia Scheel and Flora Sung.
Daughter of Cuong Nguyen, Production 2 Advanced Associate
In the fall, Co will be attending Grand Valley State University majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Biomedicine. After graduating she aspires to create machines for medical patients with missing limbs, which will help them perform and function more efficiently. Co participated in a variety of extracurricular activities in high school, such as Marching Band, Tennis, National Honors Society and Spanish Club.
Daughter of Paul Scheel, Production Control Director
Olivia enjoys helping others and is pursuing her passion for Speech Pathology at Western Michigan University. In the future, she wants to work with children, whether it’s at a local elementary school or a hospital overseas. Outside of school she enjoys being active by running, playing soccer and kayaking. Oliva has always admired her father’s work ethic and good attitude, and appreciates her mother’s dedication in homeschooling her and her siblings.
Daughter of Maria Tawl, Production 1 Associate III
Flora will be a junior in the fall, transferring from Kellogg’s Community College to Western Michigan University. She is pursuing a Biology degree, and plans to go to Medical school afterwards to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. Flora loves having fun with the people she is close with, from playing sports with her friends to cooking traditional food with her family. Her mom is one of her biggest role models because of her kindness she extends to others.
Congratulations to our 2019 DENSO scholarship winners, we wish you the best of luck in pursuing your higher education!
Shane O’Neil – Completed March 2019
Throughout the program he enjoyed rotating through the different groups which allowed him to meet and work with all the journeymen, and learn multiple repair techniques. Shane is thankful for Paul Phillips who helped him launch a new mod machine C-1211 during the program.
Outside of DENSO Shane enjoys fishing and riding dirt bikes with his two children, and looks forward to taking his family on camping trips.
Richard Saylor – Completed February 2019
Richard appreciates the numerous people in each department that helped him learn important skills so he can succeed in his job. His favorite part was being rotated through the different areas allowing him to gain a variety of experience.
Something not everyone knows about Richard is that he started working on cars when he was only 13 years old!
Safety and Quality begin with 5S, so in the HVAC assembly area, they’re finding new ways to make 5S fun and rewarding.
A new 5S challenge, called “What’s in the Box?” rewards a team with free lunch for practicing perfect 5S in their area.
Once per rotation, a different associate does a thorough walk-through of the line. The associate is responsible to pick up anything they find on the floor and put it in the box. This could be anything from a screw, to a hair tie, to a scrap of paper.
“They know we’ll come around with the box, so it helps everyone keep their area clean,” said Lead Associate Sabino Lopez.
At the end of each shift the Team Leader reviews “what’s in the box” with the team. This helps them understand why objects were on the floor, and kaizen their processes to prevent it in the future.
The goal is an empty box. Once the team achieves this, management does a line inspection. The team earns a free lunch if the management also comes up with an empty box.
Each time a team reaches a milestone, they receive a new goal to continuously improve 5S.
“We knew the challenge was helping associates accomplish exactly what they wanted when 5S didn’t drop off, even after the free lunch,” said Eric Cole, HVAC Team Leader.
DENSO Manufacturing Michigan, Inc. associates have donated 2,726 pounds of food and 118 hours to the Food Bank of South Central Michigan over the past twelve months. Recently, 18 associates spent the afternoon assembling weekend school packs for kids as a part of DENSO’s work-time volunteer program.
In this program, each associate can volunteer eight hours of paid time each year through company-sponsored events. From sorting donations and stuffing envelopes to assembling food bags, DENSO associates are empowered to give back to the community.
Thank you to our work-time volunteers!
Over 100 middle school girls participated in the Society of Women Engineers Corporate Engineering Challenge at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo on Saturday, February 16, and DENSO was there to support them.
DENSO was an event sponsor and several engineers and members of the DENSO Women’s Network were on hand to help. Volunteers shared the fun of math and science career options at DENSO by showing off Travbot, a cobot our engineers programmed to play Tic Tac Toe.
In addition to corporate sponsor activity like Travbot, participants also took on an engineering challenge in the afternoon. Teams competed in the “Moon Landing and Exploration” engineering challenge. Team DENSO mentors Sara Rodriguez and Sidd Arora, both Total Industrial Engineering engineers, guided their team to create a device that simulated landing on the moon followed by exploring the moon’s surface.
“It was fun to watch the girls get excited about the technology,” said Rachel Thole, Advanced Condenser Process Engineer, who coordinated the event. “I enjoyed networking with other companies and being out in the community.”
In 2018, 28 associates reached the 25-years of service milestone. Roughly 45 people gathered to celebrate these honorees at the Quarter Century Club Dinner on Thursday, January 24. Thank you for choosing to make your career at DENSO. Congratulations!
Every day at DENSO, someone is making a prototype for an automotive part. Now up in the North Office, the Internet of Things (IoT) Team is prototyping something drastically different—a modern office environment.
The IoT office space is filled with big blue couches, circular desks, bright bold colors and a whiteboard that spans the entire office. This prototype is based on one central concept—collaboration.
“We want to create an environment that encourages discussion and openness,” said Teresa Hansen, IoT Section Leader. “This helps encourage learning between senior staff and new staff.
Most DENSO office areas are a sea of grey or beige, so the IoT office stands out. But modern office environments are now commonly designed with color and collaboration in mind.
“I like the color scheme and all the little nooks where you can meet up,” IoT Programmer Nam Le said. “We couldn’t separate ourselves for focused time if we needed the seclusion before. Now the whole room is very flexible.”
As the war for talent gets more and more intense, job seekers are coming to expect modern, collaborative office environments. But even longtime associates like Advanced Software Developer Joe Delbridge love the IoT prototype office.
“It’s the first time in my 21 years that I have seen an office change this drastic… and it’s a great change.”
The door to the IoT office space is locked for security reasons, but Teresa said that this doesn’t mean associates aren’t welcome. In fact, anyone can stop by to take a look around, or bring their laptop along to try out one of the collaboration spaces.
“We want people to see this and want to be a part of it. We want this to show that we’re changing the game at DENSO.”
Contact Teresa or a member of the IoT team with questions or to set up a time.
Nearly 100 people teed off for this year’s DENSO Golf Outing at Binder Park Golf Course in Battle Creek on Sunday, July 29.
Congratulations to this year’s winners–Chuck Merwin, Matt Garland, Roger Froelich and Rich Tucker!
More than 500 Battle Creek associates visited the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Affiliate Rewards Road Tour on Monday, July 23.
Attendees test drove new Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles and enjoyed a free lunch courtesy of FCA while learning about associates’ eligibility for discounts on new cars.
Thanks for a fun time, FCA!
When the idea for a safety mural came up, Production 2B Associate Ashley Ellis came to mind. Her intricate butterfly design won the DMMI Making Strides Against Breast Cancer design contest. She was excited to help out and hand painted a beautiful “Safety Takes Us Home” message. Thanks for sharing your talents to help raise safety awareness, Ashley!
In support of the United Way Diaper Drive, we held our own diaper and feminine product collection at DENSO Manufacturing Michigan and designated our donation to Charitable Union.
Our team donated:
Thanks to everyone that donated!
Associates and their families had a blast during our annual bus trip to downtown Chicago. The weather lived up to Chicago’s reputation as the “Windy City,” but the sun stayed out to help associates enjoy shopping, dining and museums before being whisked home in comfort.
Thanks to the Social Activities Committee for planning this annual event!
How long have you been at DENSO?
What do you do?
As the Director of Product Design Engineering, I lead three teams including Manufacturing Product Design, Supplier Engineering, and Mold Design Engineering responsible for both HVAC and ECM Products. One of the unique aspects of this role is that these three groups support all TAC facilities and work closely with each other to support the development of TAC Products.
Manufacturing Product Design issues product designs from DNJP, supports ECI implementation, and is responsible for the development of Design For Manufacturing (DFM).
Supplier Engineering supports the development of new manufacturing processes at suppliers, localization of products, and the Design For Manufacturing.
Mold Design Engineering is responsible for the development and procurement of injection molds used to make our larger HVAC and ECM components. Injection molding is a process used to make plastic parts that many of us use every day, even things such as Lego’s. Injection molded parts in DMMI’s products include HVAC cases, radiator tanks, and cooling fans.
What’s the most interesting part of your job?
We get to see vehicles in their infancy and then watch them grow up. From the very earliest stages of design, we see cars develop through concept, quotation, prototyping – all the way to the troubleshooting mass production issues and potentially warranty improvements.
Our PDE Team was reorganized in 2017 to focus on Design For Manufacturing which is also very interesting. In product design, kaizen—continuous improvement by many small changes—can be too late. We need foresight during the design and development process to implement changes before the product is manufactured. Our biggest challenge is in making the product easier to manufacture and doing it during the design phase. It’s a big change for DENSO that we’re working on across North America.
What important lesson(s) have you learned in your career at DENSO?
I think the biggest thing is reflecting on what they do and don’t teach you in school. I pursued a really good education—a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from University of Cincinnati, an MBA from Western Michigan University—but what they don’t teach you in school is that people are your most important asset. Company A and Company B can have same facilities, same technology, but it’s the people that make it happen. The company that focuses on people is the company that will succeed.
My management philosophy is servant leadership. I believe that I’m here to help the individuals on our team that are doing the work. I’m not here to manage them, I’m here to help lead them to be successful. If I do my job well, they won’t need me anymore.
What advice would you give to an associate who wants to advance their career—either through a management path or as an individual contributor?
Take ownership for your future. Every job in this company is important. You need to find the one that will provide you with the motivation to succeed. When you find the right job, success will follow. What drives you to succeed is what you enjoy. No one will hand that to you. You have to find it.
What is your fantasy job?
Tell us something that people may not know about you.
I’m actually at my best when my feet are not on the ground. My passion for the last 20 years has been flying, both hot air balloons and single engine aircraft. I’m also certified to inspect and repair Lighter-Than-Air aircraft.
The Battle Creek community gathered to celebrate Chin National Day together this winter with sponsorship support from DENSO. The Community Cultural Center in Springfield was bursting at the seams for the annual event attended by more than 400 Battle Creek area Burmese.
Chin National Day was established almost 70 years ago to commemorate the day the Burmese threw out their feudal system, adopted democracy, and separated themselves from Great Britain. The holiday is a chance to preserve and maintain the rich culture, tradition, language, and literature of the Chin ethnic group.
This year’s event featured traditional music, dancing, food, storytelling, and fashion. The DENSO Burmese Resource Group and DMMI Business Partnering Manager Paul Gallagher represented DMMI and were recognized for the company’s event sponsorship and community support.