The AIM Center is only the beginning, too.
RI&S in September also announced it will build more state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities in McKinney by 2025. The new project will deliver even more advanced technology to RI&S’ customers and generate an additional 700 skilled jobs.
“These investments will serve as a model for RI&S’ digital transformation,” said Place. “We’re investing in high-tech manufacturing and our people to make it faster, easier and more affordable to put disruptive technology in our customers’ hands.”
That transformation entails reinventing the business to bring faster delivery cycles and create more powerful innovations to develop and deploy new products quicker than ever before.
In that digital practice run last year, for instance, the immediate benefit became apparent as soon as the team arrived at a key product testing area. Specifically, the operators quickly realized they needed an extra wall.
The design-build team responded accordingly, making that tweak on the fly during construction, when changes are cheaper and easier.
“We really did treat it like the same kind of process you would go through to design a new product – and it paid off,” said Alicia Clark, an RI&S senior project manager, who has been leading the AIM Center’s creation.
The RI&S team added in precision and sophistication at every step. The business enlisted the help of its in-house experts in building sophisticated products to bring those same techniques into the construction of a facility, which will make those very products.
They even pulled in Porsche Consulting – the luxury sports car experts – for insight on how best to build a masterpiece manufacturing facility that can create exquisite products while also accommodating growth.
The approach reflected the desire of RI&S’ business leadership to build a center marked by sweeping changes, rather than incremental improvements over existing facilities.
“One of the things the AIM Center did was pull together what is possible and put them in one place,” said LeAnna Kopydlowski, RI&S’ AIM Center design lead.
A 3D digital model allowed designers to better visualize the space in its conceptual stages, much the way product designers model and simulate a product design.
The team then deployed a laser scanner throughout the building process to take thousands of scans totaling more than 10 terabytes of data. The result was a true digital replica – one that could even see through walls to view every wire, pipe and other minute detail in the facility.
That confidence in design is important because the AIM Center, which saw some workers start using the space earlier this year, was built to put people at the forefront.
Factory employees never have to go more than six feet to grab a necessary tool or complete a key task. Technological improvements include automated torque controllers and an RFID grid. The new clean room simultaneously controls humidity, temperature and cleanliness. Ergonomics and safety are built in, and open, modular designs mean that the people doing the work can better collaborate, communicate and innovate to deliver on commitments.
“The AIM Center puts the product and the people at the center of the design,” said Kelly Dodds, RI&S’ advanced manufacturing tech director. “We all understand the importance of our mission and that each of us plays a part in delivering for the ones who keep us safe.”