Engineering a Masterpiece Part 6: High Tech Automation
High Tech Automation
Marathon’s Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) Router, a large machine that thinks and works in 5D, is used by our engineers to cut cabinetry out of sheet wood. Its precision and speed allow our builders to produce strong, high-quality cabinets and parts while reducing wood waste. This amazing machine cannot work without engineers such as Andy Johnson, who is the machine’s CAD engineer. Andy began at Marathon in 2000, and joined the engineering team in 2005, when the CNC Router was brought to the floor. Andy takes the detailed drawings from the cabinet engineers and custom programs them into a specific software that the CNC Router reads, turning a sheet of wood into precise parts that the cabinet builders put together with ease. This cuts down the time it takes to cut out and build the 50+ cabinets that are in each coach. The CNC Router is also used for Corian countertops and sometimes sheet aluminum.
When prompted about the other aspect of his job, using the 3D printer, Andy lit up, saying, “Being able to take a theory and create something tangible is exciting.” The 3D printer is used to make custom parts for our coaches. The programs connected to 3D printing mean we can replicate a part down to the last, precise detail, every single time. Having this printer often allows us to cut out the middle man and create our custom parts here, which then moves our installation schedule forward.
“Our longest print right now is 36 hours,” said Andy, “but that print involves multiple parts being created at once, so it’s still far more economical than ordering from an outside vendor.” 3D printed parts are used throughout the coaches, from carbon fiber nylon panels in the underbelly storage, to the poly carbonate parts that secure the blinds in every coach. Because we print these parts in-house, we can assure the quality of each piece. That quality is what sets our coaches apart from other coaches on the market.
A common theme throughout this department, and echoed by each engineer, is that working at Marathon is inspiring and they love their jobs. There is always a new project to take on, always a new problem to solve, and the engineering team thrives on the challenge. Many of our engineers started on the production floor. Then because of their talents and skills, they were recognized by company leadership and invited to join this ever-growing, ever-innovating team. This is one of the hidden strengths of Marathon and how a masterpiece comes to life. A collection of talent that uses each other to inspire and create each coach, while never relying on one individual for systems’ design