The process to build a LVT trailer takes place in two buildings. In Building A, all of the metal is cut, bent, and welded before being sent to LVT Headquarters where the pieces are assembled. Trent Taylor is the Operations Manager at the LiveView Technologies headquarters. In this interview, he answers questions about LVT’s manufacturing process.
NB: What do we manufacture in-house vs. what is outsourced?
TT: We manufacture 98% of all metal fabricated parts. Almost every metal component is touched and modified before becoming part of our product. We outsource small amounts of computer numerical control (CNC) machined plastics and aluminum components for mounting some of our cameras to our live units. We outsource items like wire harnesses in order to focus our core strengths on manufacturing and assembling the products.
NB: What do we do in our other building?
TT: Building A is our metal fabrication facility and houses our field support staff. We operate a 9K Amada Ensis Laser to cut the metal, two state-of-the-art Amada Brake Presses, and a full team of welders running two shifts a day to meet our customers’ needs.
NB: How long does it take to produce one D3?
TT: A D3 Unit takes roughly four hours to work through our electronics assembly production line. It then runs through a series of tests for 48 hours to make sure each component is working as designed and intended.
NB: How many units do we produce in a day? A week? A year?
TT: We have built in capacity to build 20 trailers per day, 100 per week, and 5000 per year. We are constantly striving to implement lean manufacturing principles to improve our lead times and increase the quality of our products and people.
NB: Do we have an assembly line? Or does one person/team follow a trailer through the entire process?
TT: It is different at our two facilities. In the laser, bend, and weld portion of the manufacturing we use a small batch system that allows the teams to keep scrap costs balanced with daily and weekly production schedules. Some of that if affected by outside processes like galvanizing and powder coating. Basically, they run efficient small batches of grouped parts that make up a certain quantity of trailers and Live Units.
At HQ, we run multiple production lines that utilize single piece flow of product through their given processes. The Live Units run through a six-station production line that takes all of the fabricated metal components and combines them with all the purchased and proprietary electronics that make up our D3 and Omni platforms. The trailers run through a 12-station production line with several offline work cells that feed components into the line. Once finished the trailer/mounting structure is tested and labeled for the specific customer and combined with its finished head unit, also known as the Live Unit.
NB: How many people work on one unit?
TT: Throughout the entire process to take flat steel and aluminum and turn it into trailers, poles, wall mounts, and Live Units we employ between 55 and 75 people in direct labor. Support staff, purchasing and supply chain personnel, and manufacturing engineering add another 14 people to make it all come together.
NB: How many D3s do we make vs. Omnis?
TT: Roughly 20 to 1 D3 to Omni.
NB: How many units are typically in the works/in progress at any given time?
TT: At any given time, in the electronics assembly room we can have 50 units in process. On the trailer assembly line, we have 12 units in progress at any moment. If we look at the fabrication shop, we are generally moving through 10 full units a day. Furthermore, some of our lead times in outside coatings can be up to 5 weeks, so we can have between 250 and 500 units worth of parts offsite at any given time.
NB: What is your favorite part of the process?
TT: That’s like asking which one of your kids is your favorite. Our goal is to supply the highest quality product that fills our customers’ security needs. To that end, my favorite is when a Live Unit and mounting structure roll off the final portion of our production line, ready to ship to the next customer.
NB: Anything else you would like to add?
TT: The manufacturing arm of the company kept working at both of our facilities throughout the entire pandemic, only taking off a couple mandatory days for sanitization. We invited the Health Department into our facilities to advise us on how to keep our people safe while doing our critical work. We passed that inspection with flying colors. While we were not immune from the effects of COVID-19 on our people and supply chains, we fulfilled on-time delivery of every order in 2020 except for one which we missed by only two days. At times, it was a scramble due to global supply chains and the ever-changing COVID regulations, but ultimately we came out on top. Great people made it happen.