Unanimous Vote: Shape is the Most Innovative

“When we put everyone on the table and asked, ‘Who was the most innovative?’ Shape was the unanimous vote”, said Jimmy Seacrist, director of quality at Futuris Automotive.

We currently make seven products for Futuris, a leader in automotive seating components. These products are components to structures on Tesla’s Model X second row seating. This complex piece has received rave reviews from Tesla and even the owner, Elon Musk himself.

Jimmy Seacrist, Allan Yageman, senior project manager, and John Wehrenberg, chief operating officer of Futuris Automotive, made a special trip from California two weeks ago to present associates with an award in innovation.

“You are the only one ruling the innovation category,” said John Wehrenberg. “We need [and want] to be working with customers like you every day.”

These seat structures were a hard piece to manufacture with the very tight tolerances. However, the most difficult challenge was the time-line of the process. Many major OEM’s start product development two to three years before the product launches. Tesla’s Model X process was just a few months long from concept to production; 11 months to be exact.

“Our team supported early DFM (Design for Manufacturing) processes. Every Monday night at 9:00pm we had a call with the Futuris design team, to stay on-top of the technical challenges for both Shape and Futuris members,” said Ryan VanderWeele, program manager. “This was both rewarding from a relationship stand-point working with our customer, and it supported Shape’s internal success to follow our systems to execute change-management.”

What makes the seating structure unique, and very innovative was our abilities to take out mass, while strengthening the component, and deliver on time. Automotive manufacturers are consistently being pushed to make their cars lighter, and safer. These demands often fall on their suppliers, like us, to execute.

“Shape’s experience and capabilities roll forming martensitic steels provided Futuris the confidence that our team would hit a “home run” on this program,” said Pete Klahorst, director of Diversified products business unit. “There wasn’t much wiggle room in the time line so a home run was needed!

“When a customer hands an award to me, I accept the award on behalf of the entire team that made the accomplishment a reality. In this specific case, there were a number of teams involved in the execution of this launch. Obviously, the manufacturing and program launch teams were working closely together. But we also needed a ton of support from the corporate maintenance, supply chain management, and shipping teams as well. A true team effort!!”

We want to thank and congratulate those who worked very hard on this project! Thank you for being innovative in every way, creating great quality products, and exceeding our customer’s expectations.