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2004/05 Visteon Challenges

Who is Visteon? Visteon is a leading full-service supplier that delivers consumer-driven technology solutions to automotive manufacturers worldwide and through multiple channels within the global automotive aftermarket.

The company employs nearly 75,000 employees in over 25 countries. Visteon’s vision is to be the World's Leading Supplier Of Integrated Automotive Systems.

Challenge 1:  Visteon Challenge Satellite Radio:

Investigate how Visteon can more effectively market and sell the concept of satellite radio within motor vehicles.  Research may include: the concept of satellite radio, marketing techniques, target audience, cost, benefits.  Develop a marketing plan that will enable Visteon’s satellite radio product to stand out from the competitors and attract new buyers.  The plan should identify the target audience and outline the marketing strategies used as well as cost and longevity of the marketing program.

Background Info:

Satellite Radio offers more than 100 streams of digital entertainment, with 60 commercial-free, original music streams. High orbit satellites deliver clear programming anywhere in the US to satellite-enabled radios in vehicles, homes, offices and boats

Delphi and XM were the first to companies to market this technology, with XM having close to 700,000 subscribers.  Visteon and Sirius are second to the market and currently have about 100,000 subscribers.  Visteon's North Penn facility in Lansdale, PA manufactures electronic circuit boards that are needed for satellite radio, therefore it is in our interest to create a higher level of awareness of this product, thus a larger market.

Suggested Resources:  

Sirius Radio Web Site

Satellite Radio - How Stuff Works

XM Radio Website

Visteon’s Expectations

Business Case Considerations – A Business Case should address certain key items including assumptions and risks, short and long-term goals, and marketing costs.  A complete summary that includes data to support your recommendations is desirable.


The Judges Scoring Sheet will be used but submissions will also be judged on the basis of:

  1. Viability - how implementable is the idea?

  2. Cost - how much will it cost to implement the idea?

  3. Sustainability - how likely is the idea to produce lasting results?


All written submissions must be received by January 28, 2005.
Team coordinators will be notified of their status by February 25, 2005.
date TBD. To be held at the Visteon North Penn facility in Lansdale, Pa.

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Challenge 2: Robots in Lean Manufacturing:

Examine ways that Visteon could utilize and adapt a certain robot in a lean manufacturing “lean cell” to provide an edge over other competitors. The robot adaptations should increase product quality and production efficiency in the station while maintaining the desired flexibility necessary to a lean manufacturing station.  Research issues including recent manufacturing trends (ie: lean manufacturing), robotics adaptations, Adept 6-300 or 6-600 model robot, monetary costs, the benefits, as well as drawbacks. Create a business case that outlines a well-researched and defined implementation plan to integrate an adapted Adept robot or group of robots into its lean manufacturing “station”.

Background Information and Definitions:

--    Hard-tooling: The fitting of robots with a specific piece of equipment that remains a “semi-permanent” part of the robot and typically enables the robot to complete a highly specific task.  If a robot is hard-tooled, it may be less flexible for performing other tasks.  This is because a robotics tool that is specifically designed to do one task can’t be used for a different task and likely will not be removed easily or changed inexpensively.

--    Work-cells: Small, automated stations that may incorporate a robot to accomplish some specific assembly task and could operate independently or in conjunction with other work cells. Work cells had been typically fastened together with long conveyors connecting each work cell in a “transfer line” arrangement, which expedited mass manufacturing.  These cells are now designed to be more flexible and are assembled as a group of stations, typically in a “U” shape.  This group of cells is often referred to as a lean cell (more information contained in “detail section”)

--    Throughput: The amount of completed assemblies that are processed through a given operation or operations.

--    Assemblies:  Typically a printed circuit board that is in the process of being populated (small electronic parts installed) or being assembled to a casting and covers that will house and protect the printed circuit board.

--    Lean Manufacturing:

Manufacturing trends have changed considerably in just the last 10 years.  There has been a marked change from the use of hard-tooled automation to assemble electronics, to a leaner, more flexible approach that can include using work cells. 

In the past, hard tooling would allow for repeatable operations as robot tooling was built to move and/or assemble some very specific sizes and shapes of units in very large quantities for LONG periods of time, perhaps as long as 10 years. Many companies have re-examined the hard-tooled approach and determined a more efficient and cost effective way to manufacture electronic components that need to change every couple of years rather than each decade.

To compensate for this need to change the robot’s configuration more frequently in electronics manufacturing, companies have built equipment that will only assemble electronics boards in a certain form factor for perhaps 1-2 years.  To accomplish this, some companies have utilized workcells that are built to help assemble electronic assemblies. The work cells must be both flexible and quickly changeable to allow for reuse as unit shapes and sizes change in short cycles of time (1-2 years).  This process of using a mix of people within a group of workcells to maintain a flexible manufacturing setting, is a form of lean manufacturing.

This switch in manufacturing trends addresses some drawbacks to hard tooled automation.  This includes less complex adaptations needed to the automation to keep up with the changing market, the initial cost of tooling the machines, etc.  Given the direction manufacturing techniques have taken, it is important to consider how Visteon can utilize robotics to continue to improve quality and throughput without sacrificing the flexibility desired by lean manufacturing.


When approaching this challenge, you will need to research the direction manufacturing has taken, particularly the lean manufacturing concept in the last several years.  This will provide a better understanding of how humans are utilized in this concept.  For example, each time a person touches an electronic device, there is additional risk to the integrity of the part by doing harm to the electronics, yet there is no value added to the part.  Think about how Visteon can utilize a given robot more effectively to make the robot more like a person such that we can increase quality and efficiency of the workcell and also reduce the number of times that a human touches the electronic components.

Typical Manufacturing Workcell Details:

Individual workcells that are placed together to create a complete “lean cell” may do some of the following operations:

  1. Dispensing of sealants, coatings, etc
  2. Soldering
  3. Programming
  4. Pick/Place to ovens, etc.
  5. Vision Inspection

These workcells are typically placed next to one another in order of operation in a “U” shape with a small space between so as to allow access to the cells for maintenance.  This is limited to minimize the loop size that the lean cell operator must walk to move the units from station to station.  Although a lean cell varies in the number of workcells it contains and therefore  ultimately it’s “U” shaped dimension, consider an average lean cell to have between 8 and 12 work cells with a “U” shaped dimension of approximately 40 ft x 60 ft. Consider these lean cell dimensions when you create a plan using the specified robot below.

Robotics apparatus to be used:

Students should plan to utilize the Adept 3-300 or 6-600 model robot which is a six axis robot that is more easily programmed to simulate the tasks of a human being used in a lean manufacturing environment.  Students may also utilize the idea of a six axis robot mounted on a linear axis. See resource section for suggested websites describing the Adept robots.

Possible Approaches:

  1. Design of a "hand" to be mounted to the robot that can pick up any size or shape of an electronic assembly that could easily be moved by a human.
  2. Design of a vision process to allow the robot to be more flexible in terms of picking up different shapes/sizes, and doing quality inspections at the same time.
  3. Design of a communications protocol to allow multiple robots to work together in a lean cell.  Examples: Synthetic voice/voice recognition

Suggested Research Areas: (Stayed tuned for additions.)

Lean Manufacturing:

Adept Robot:

Visteon’s Expectations

Business Case Considerations – A Business Case should address certain key items including assumptions and risks, short and long term goals, monetary requirements, as well as how we might quantify the return on investment.  A summary that details your recommendations is desirable.

Technical Considerations – Technical considerations should include whether this is an enhancement of an existing technology, or a completely new concept.  If it is unproven, provide details as to why this idea will work, as well as why it will enhance our position in manufacturing.  Provide as much data to support the concept’s viability as possible.

Judging Criteria:

The Judges Scoring Sheet will be used but submissions will also be judged on the basis of:

  1. Feasibility of the idea
  2. Cost of the idea
  3. Does the idea work within the scope and direction that lean manufacturing is taking us?


All written submissions must be received by January 28, 2005.
Team coordinators will be notified of their status by February 25, 2005.
Finals date TBD. To be held at the Visteon North Penn facility in Lansdale, Pa.

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