For over a year, Multicraft International has been working closely with academic institutions to provide students with real world experience in the engineering field. On the high school level, Multicraft partnered with Pelahatchie High School to form the Multicraft Innovation Academy which provides a 2 year manufacturing course curriculum and an Industrial Maintenance Technology Certificate to interested students. This program has finished its first year this spring. For university students, Multicraft partnered with Mississippi State University to give college seniors the opportunity to improve an engineering process for their senior class project.

Students from the Mechanical System Design course at Mississippi State University worked with Multicraft International on a process improvement study. The purpose was to analyze a park brake switch manufacturing process as part of Multicraft’s continuous improvement activities.  Specifically, the Mississippi State team, along with direction from Multicraft staff Jesse Havard and Olinsser Villafranca, worked to increase the accuracy of the preload force reading device on Multicraft International’s break switch assembly line.

The report states, “In an effort to improve the accuracy of the preload force reading device on the break switch assembly line in Multicraft International’s Pelahatchie branch, HailState Engineering devised a four-phase refinement process. The first phase sought to more closely align the line test method with the test method implemented in the lab. This involved replacing the original preload force reader, which was comprised of an air cylinder system which read the force at full extension, with a new system, made of a linear actuator with a programmable controller and a linear position sensor. Originally, this solution utilized a stepper motor similar to that used in the lab, but it was found to be much too slow for the assembly line time constraints. The next phases included installing a larger contact foot to minimize any inaccuracy incurred by the position of the switch, installing an angle check system similar to that of the other lines, and as a last resort, replacing the foot with a slider system to imitate the contact the brake lever. Though only one phase could be completed in the time allotted for this project, a 14.97 percent improvement to accuracy was noted.”

Below, the graph gives more detail about their results.

This refinement process allowed the test on the line to increase its speed as well as the accuracy that the lab test originally provided.

“The project from Multicraft was an overwhelming success for our students and for Multicraft because the students were able to work on a real production line and make an impact that was beneficial to Multicraft.  The experience that the students attained by working on a real production line will enhance and shape their skills in solving engineering problems in the industry and that is the most impactful educational experience I can think of,” said Dr. Wil Whittington, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

A special thank you to the students Justin Moore, John Davis, Caleb Hill, Sarah Lea, Micah Peacock, Cailin Console, and Cody Evans for working with Multicraft Quality Manager Jesse Havard and Senior Electrical Engineer Olinsser Villafranca to produce these results.

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