Automotive Strong

Written by, Alicia DeCroix, Marketing Manager at dlhBOWLES, Inc. September 9, 2020

The Automotive industry has seen its share of turbulence, and oftentimes those of us who live and breathe Automotive our entire careers wonder why we put ourselves through the cyclical cycles of up and down that happen like clockwork every 1 ½ to 2 Automotive Cycles (9 to 13 years for you non-automotive folks). But 2020 has brought us something that nobody could have dreamt up and looks so familiar to the dystopian books that are near and dear to my heart; Coronavirus (AKA COVID-19).

It’s seems like just yesterday that we were in Las Vegas for CES 2020. Hosting multitudes of people in our Suite, shaking hands with exhibitors, and breaking bread with our partners. I was sick with an awful cold in Vegas this year and thinking back now, I definitely would not have gotten on that plane with the little sniffle I had on day 1 had I known that our world was about to become what we see today.

Fast forwarding to March 4, 2020 I landed in Detroit for an Automotive conference just 2 hours before my company restricted all business travel. The conference was “guarded” a couple people were wearing face coverings, handshakes were replaced by elbow bumps or head nods. It was awkward to not hug my long-time automotive friends. By the time I reached home on March 9th, the world was trying to figure out what to do. Flights grounded; Cruise ships stranded at sea; People were in utter disbelief and many did not believe it was real at all…still the case with some people.

March 12, 2020 our schools announced they were closing, March 13th was my last day at my office where I have not returned since. Like many of you, I was trying to get acclimated to my new home office and new tools to connect to others at work while trying to keep my head about me and help my son with virtual school (which admittedly was a failure in our household). All while attempting to keep up on the latest Automotive plant closures to report to Management, release a new sales forecast every couple of weeks, wade through real from fake news, what is happening with the economy? the virus? shuttered businesses? unemployment is skyrocketing? Anyone, including myself had every right to be anxious or to wonder when it will end or will it get worse.

But then suddenly things started to improve. We didn’t want to believe it at first, but the world had figured out how to continue to live (albeit with major changes to our daily lives). We figured out how to reopen factories, restaurants, entertainment venues. Reinforced the use of our nations parks and getting outside to enjoy safe socially distanced activities with friends and families. Not perfect, but better.

Despite everything COVID, work was busy with assisting with medical product supply chains, and our development partners hadn’t slowed down, keeping us optimistic that new technology, research and development in key areas within our industry continue to thrive despite this new environment.

Fast forward to September 2020. The Automotive industry has seen month over month growth in Sales as people return to the dealerships. August ended at a strong 15.2M SAAR which many of us wondered if we would come close to in 2020. Dealerships turned over 50% of their inventory in August keeping factories running as fast as they can to replenish the stock despite dealing with rampant absenteeism still even 6 months since the world shutdown. The real question on everyone’s mind, is this sustainable? Although I would like to be the first Automotive analyst to jump up and down and say our industry is only going up from here, sadly my crystal ball went hazy back in March when the unthinkable happened and COVID-19 started sending everyone home to quarantine.

What I am comfortable predicting is that the Automotive Industry will prevail and recover better than ever. We have learned a lot of lessons across the globe, across the country, and at each of our individual companies. We have learned that we can safely operate our businesses and keep our employees and their families safe from not only this disease, but any disease. We have learned compassion for our employees and that we truly are all in this together. The Automotive Industry has successfully learned to cope with the impact of COVID-19 giving us hope that the industry and economy could better handle any future outbreaks or flare ups without catastrophic effects.

WE ARE AUTOMOTIVE STRONG.

About the Author
Alicia DeCroix is the Marketing Manager at dlhBOWLES, Inc. in Columbia, Maryland. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Science in Management, Strategy, and Leadership from Michigan State University. She has worked in the Automotive industry for 20+ years and is a seasoned veteran in forecasting and analyzing the Automotive Industry providing stakeholders with insight to drive business forward.

Now and in the years ahead, manufacturers will be asked ‘what was your COVID-19 strategy?’

Now and in the years ahead, manufacturers will be asked ‘what was your COVID-19 strategy?’  True enough, industry leaders will reflect to this pivotal time in their forward trajectory to celebrate team accomplishments which ushered in a faster push towards urgent transitions in manufacturing.

As the Automotive industry continues to increase activity after the pandemic shutdown,  it is fitting to recognize the great efforts of our employees.  We are proud of the work we have done to support the frontlines in the COVID-19 fight through new ad hoc groups formed to take immediate action.  The great cross-company, cross-industry achievements stand testimony to the values of cooperative effort we hold close.

Working remotely and masked while socially distanced, dlhBOWLES employees pivoted to adapt our manufacturing capabilities and answer the need for ventilator and respirator parts supplying General Motors and Ford respectively.

Logo with caption we are results-driven.

In late March and early April, we partnered with General Motors (GM) to supply parts for the Ventec Life Systems VOCSN ventilator. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra shared the GM strategy on what was learned during their COVID-19 response and how the automaker intends to use that ‘ventilator fast’ strategy : Move from asking why to asking what can we do: https://s.gm.com/hmzp2.

During this same time frame, dlhBOWLES also partnered with Ford to produce the 3M Versaflo™ respirator flow indicator tube assembly.  In a moment’s notice Ford took American ingenuity and manufacturing capability and put it to work:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/ford-motor-company/.

Both projects retained many of the same team of individuals responsible for implementing a new workflow.  Shattering paradigms and pushing our limits, dlhBOWLES proved to have the dynamic chameleon-like capability to change amid our industry’s environment.  To our strategic and manufacturing teams, and all who supported us:  Thank you!

References:

Apple. (n.d.). Apple Podcasts Preview. GM’s Mary Barra: “Deep, profound sadness and going ventilator fast.”  Retrieved from https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/id1507293907?i=1000477842389

Bigelow, P. (April 26, 2020). dlhBowles is finding innovative solutions to a dirty problem. Automotive News.  Retrieved from https://www.autonews.com/shift/dlhbowles-finding-innovative-solutions-dirty-problem

Announcement: dlhBOWLES Part of the Inaugural Class of PACEpilot Honorees

For 26 years and running, the Automotive News  PACE Awards have proclaimed the Automotive Industry’s greatest commercialized game-changing innovations. The accelerated tempo of change has been driving vast innovation in the pilot phase through processes, products and systems that have not yet been brought to market. Development within these areas has given rise to the need for a new program started in 2020 heralding the achievements of eleven honorees.

The new Automotive News PACEpilot program reviews and recognizes innovations from suppliers, including startups, that have reached a working pilot demonstration phase but are not yet commercialized with a contracted sale.  A glimpse into dlhBOWLES’ innovational spirit is provided in Automotive News’ Pete Bigelow’s article featuring Chief Executive Officer John Saxon and Director of Business Development Russell Hester.  In a live ceremony event (9:00 am EDT on Tuesday, April 28,2020), Automotive News will broadcast the full list of winners. Register here.  

Thanks to a special project challenge from dlhBOWLES customer General Motors (GM) and through the joint expertise of fellow industry veteran Rausch and Pausch GmbH (RAPA), we designed our multi-sensor Fluid Control Unit (FCU) technology to reduce the amount of fluid consumption by cleaning the right location at the right time.  The long-term vision for our automotive grade tested and proven Clēr™ camera and sensor cleaning product line is scalability and quick integration with current original equipment manufacturer (OEM) systems.  Market availability of the Clēr™ multi-sensor FCU parallels the timeline of Level 4 and Level 5 vehicles.

As we celebrate the recognition of dlhBOWLES for Automotive News’ esteemed PACEpilot award, we are sincerely grateful to our employees, fellow first tier colleagues, partners, and especially our customers.  Through partnerships with automotive industry veterans and start-ups alike, dlhBOWLES is continually inspired.  Within our 60 years in the automotive industry, we have not seen a more exciting time to be a part of creating innovative solutions on future vehicles. 

References: 

Automotive News. (2020). PACEpilot. Automotive News. Retrieved from https://www.autonews.com/awards/pacepilot 

Bigelow, P. (2020). dlhBowles is finding innovative solutions to a dirty problem. Automotive News. Retrieved from https://www.autonews.com/shift/dlhbowles-finding-innovative-solutions-dirty-problem 

NHTSA. (2020). Automated driving systems. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/13069a-ads2.0_090617_v9a_tag.pdf 

dlhBOWLES Assists in Managing Supply Chain Risk During COVID-19

We’re answering the call to help with the COVID-19 response with unparalleled urgency. dlhBOWLES is leveraging resources and decades of Automotive and Consumer Products manufacturing experience responding to demands for critical medical supplies. You can count on dlhBOWLES’ quick response and expedited lead time for injection mold tools and assembly equipment, enabling rapid production.

To help reduce your supply chain risks, the dlhBOWLES team offers varying degrees of immediate support utilizing USA based facilities in Maryland and Ohio or our Reynosa Mexico plant.

Our Capabilities:

  • Injection Molding and tube extrusion of nearly all thermoplastics (excluding silicone), with access to an extensive network of tool shops 
  • “Lights out” injection molding using 33 to 330-ton presses
  • 2 to 3.5-inch extruders
  • 4ft to 8ft diameter index forming tables
  • In-house injection mold tool and machine shops from our North American locations

Current Projects:

dlhBOWLES is currently producing parts for the Ventec Life Systems VOCSN Ventilator in cooperation with GM and Ventec.

dlhBOWLES is supplying the 3M Versaflo™ respirator flow indicator tube assembly in cooperation with Ford and 3M.

To get started, contact:
Russell Hester (rhester@dlhbowles.com, 410-562-8346)

dlhBOWLES remains open and shifts capacity to support production of critical and essential items in response to COVID-19 crisis.

dlhBOWLES is considered to be part of critical industries based on our country’s Defense Production Act (DPA). Specifically working with FEMA, MEMA, DHS and other agencies and companies who direct us to remain open for production. Given this, we have asserted critical and essential status and invoke exceptions to any enforced shutdowns by our local or federal government.

On March 27, 2020, dlhBOWLES entered into a supply agreement with General Motors (GM) to produce parts for the Ventec VOCSN Ventilator. We will remain open for business throughout the COVID-19 crisis at all locations in North America in order to work closely with GM on this project as well as to provide critical parts for the trucking/transportation, military, agriculture, and medical device industries. As part of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce our employees and facilities may be operating and working despite local or federal shutdowns.

Should there be any question regarding dlhBOWLES’ status as a critical and essential manufacturer, please refer to the Department of Homeland Security website or contact a member of our leadership team.

Advances in Sensor Cleaning Pave the Way for Autonomous Driving

As Automated Driving Systems (ADS) technology grows exponentially, the idealist in us envisions that the practical safety of such systems can keep pace.  At dlhBOWLES, we see the collective harmony of innovative automotive design, technology, safety, and convenience as the key to giving customers what they need.  Specifically speaking, this means that our sensor cleaning is ready to deploy before drivers are alerted to the need for it.

Megan Lampinen’s (2020) article featuring dlhBOWLES Chief Executive Officer, John Saxon, spotlights the challenge presented by sensor systems exposed to dirty, buggy, icy, and rainy encumbrances in the very environment they are designed to navigate.

Lampinen, M. (2020). Advances in sensor cleaning pave the way for autonomous driving, Automotive World. Retrieved from https://www.automotiveworld.com/articles/advances-in-sensor-cleaning-pave-the-way-for-autonomous-driving/

dlhBOWLES and RAPA to Exhibit Newly Developed Camera and Sensor Cleaning Technology at CES 2020

COLUMBIA, Md., Dec. 10, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — dlhBOWLES of Columbia, Maryland USA announces a new development for an innovative technology supporting Advanced Driving Systems (ADS) and Autonomous Vehicles (AV) with the RAPA group located in Selb, Germany and in Auburn, Alabama USA.  Clēr™ is a Camera and Sensor Cleaning product line that uses patented technology developed by dlhBOWLES to distribute air and water at the right time to the right location on a vehicle in order to keep cameras and sensors free of environmental contaminants.

dlhBOWLES’ Clēr™ product line includes RAPA’s solenoid distribution system to control when, how, and how much air or liquid is distributed to a sensor.  Together with dlhBOWLES’ expertise in fluid distribution, the Clēr™ system provides vehicle manufacturers with a highly engineered system to maintain functionality of their ADS and AV Systems while the vehicle is in operation. This technology will be on display by invitation only in the Westgate Hotel at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada from January 7, 2020 through January 10, 2020.  Contact dlhBOWLES at marketing@dlhbowles.com to request a private viewing of this technology.

dlhBOWLES Chief Executive Officer John Saxon announced, “Our recently formed partnership with RAPA underscores dlhBOWLES’ commitment to serve our customers with excellence in everything we do and furthermore reflects our desire to collaborate with companies who share our vision of constant improvement. We consider CES 2020 an ideal time and place for our new product line reveal as we build upon our past, leverage our present, and shape our future.” 

Also, RAPA LP Chief Executive Officer Kelly Nelson sees this cooperation as a great opportunity for the future: “Anticipating the engineering challenges of our customers before they face them is at the heart of our product developmental strategy. The opportunity to collaborate with a company like dlhBOWLES should be seen as a clear commitment to our customers to that end. Together we will lead the way in providing solutions to our customers within the ever-changing and challenging engineering landscape of autonomous driving.”

dlhBOWLES provides cleaning systems for automotive cameras and sensors that seamlessly integrate into a vehicle’s existing washer system, improving the effectiveness and safety of today’s Advanced Driving Systems and tomorrow’s Autonomous Vehicle technology.  Foreign materials like dust, mud, road salt, snow and water can cause sensor obstruction that will lead to degraded system performance or even render the system inoperable.

Any vehicle utilizing optical sensors (including cameras) will need a clear, unobstructed view to function properly and ensure safe operation. The presence of cameras and sensor systems on new vehicles has increased significantly over the past few years and will be part of standard equipment in the coming years as more vehicles adopt the lifesaving ADS technologies.

As a partner of the Automotive industry, RAPA shapes the current trends in automotive engineering. With innovative solutions in safety, comfort, e-mobility, efficiency and sustainability, this family-owned company based in Selb, Germany will soon be celebrating 100 years of success as a reputed technology partner and hidden champion.

Rausch & Pausch provides engineering and installation services for large premium automotive brands such as BMW, Daimler, Jaguar, Tesla and Porsche to name but a few. RAPA focuses on the development of parts, components and systems for vehicles and assists along the entire cycle from pre-development to the start of production. With an ultra-modern, high-tech laboratory at its headquarters, the latest measuring and test equipment, and prototype production; RAPA offers an excellent infrastructure at its plant in Selb, Germany and Auburn, Alabama, USA. But this is still not enough as every production system is developed in-house and is tailored exactly to specific requirements.

For over 60 years, dlhBOWLES has been a pioneer of innovation thanks to their deep strength in research and development leading to more than 250 patents in the area of fluid management systems and devices.  The company utilizes dedicated engineering teams using state-of-the-art prototyping and manufacturing processes, allowing for a penchant to take the initiative.  In 2012, the company was first to market with its front camera cleaning system on the Ford F-150 Raptor.  dlhBOWLES has achieved its standing as a valued and trusted supplier of washer, sunroof and powertrain components to many original equipment manufacturers.  Proven product effectiveness and focus guided by key partnerships brings the benefits gained to find real answers to customer pain points thereby Making Safety Systems Safer.

Media contact:

Russell Hester

Director of Business Development

Email: marketing@dlhbowles.com

Exciting Products from Webasto

We are excited to collaborate with Webasto, the world market leader for roof systems, developing creative solutions for the future of mobility. At this year’s IAA Frankfurt Auto Show, Webasto unveiled their Roof Sensor Module, the solution to integrate sensors, cameras and associated features attractively into the roof of autonomous vehicles. This also includes the dlhBOWLES Sensor Cleaning System to ensure sensor functionality in all weather conditions. We combined our respective expertise to seamlessly integrate a cleaning system; using our distinctive nozzle technology and exceptional engineering to clean sensors faster and more efficiently. For more information about the Webasto Roof Sensor Module:
https://www.webasto-group.com/en/ For more on dlhBOWLES camera and sensor cleaning technology: https://dlhbowles.com/solutions-services-2/adas-autonomous-vehicle-technology-2-2-2/

Poised, Prepared, and Proactive Sensor Cleaning is a Must

Engineers who eat, sleep and breathe the objectives of automated driving, machine vision, LiDAR, driver monitoring, and active safety know that the sensor requirements keep evolving every six months. Application of these automotive technologies calls upon the need for proactive sensor cleaning.  In his article, Freddie Holmes (2019) points out that while the vehicle’s beltline is the ideal viewing point for vision sensors, it can also be the dirtiest.  As sensor availability is mission-critical, sensor cleaning takes on a prominent role.  Read more about the intrigue of sensor cleaning and the dlhBOWLES proactive approach here:  https://www.automotiveworld.com/articles/poised-and-prepared-proactive-sensor-cleaning-is-a-must/

Holmes, F. (2019). Poised and prepared: proactive sensor cleaning is a must. Automotive World. Retrieved from https://www.automotiveworld.com/articles/poised-and-prepared-proactive-sensor-cleaning-is-a-must/