There’s nothing quite like an automotive stamping plant. Massive presses every few seconds thump sheets of metal into body panels and other parts. You can feel the vibration constantly while you’re on the factory floor.
This is Daniel Tunis’ world. His title is professional maintenance pillar lead. He works at FCA US LLC’s Warren, MI stamping plant.
“My main focus is having proper maintenance in place for all of our equipment,” he said. That involves ensuring preventative maintenance schedules are kept. If a problem arises, he wants to make sure it doesn’t reoccur. “My role is to try to orchestrate all that, to make sure we keep running our machines as long as possible and minimize downtime.”
Tunis is from southeastern Michigan, which meant he was exposed to the auto industry at a young age. “As a kid growing up in the Detroit area, it’s the biggest thing here, obviously,” he said.
He received a bachelor’s of science in industrial and systems engineering from Oakland University (Rochester Hills, MI). While attending school, he joined FCA US in May 2012 as a manufacturing intern. The internship was a partnership between the company and Oakland, which consists of engineering students who focus their careers on auto metal stamping. Tunis worked out of the Warren stamping plant during his internship.
Early in the internship, Tunis worked with a Warren plant employee who was skeptical of what the newcomer was trying to do. “I pulled the gentleman over. ‘Hey give me a chance. It hasn’t been working but let’s try to make it work.’”
Later, “The guy said thank you for getting things accomplished.” Tunis said it “was one of the most impactful moments I had.”
After graduation in 2013, Tunis was promoted to maintenance supervisor within the automaker’s pressroom operations. He supervised several tradesmen within the maintenance organization as well as being part of a troubleshooting team for equipment malfunctions. In June 2014, Tunis was promoted to the Professional Maintenance department.
Tunis has been involved in efforts to cut the time needed to change dies, improve maintenance procedures and the company’s World Class Manufacturing audit efforts.
World Class Manufacturing (WCM) is an association of companies who work to eliminate waste in production operations. FCA is the only automaker involved. Chrysler adopted WCM after Fiat acquired a controlling interest in Chrysler in 2009 as part of a US government-backed bankruptcy and reorganization.
Representatives of association members audit each other’s factories. Turis helped the Warren plant receive a bronze certification from the group and wants the factory to get a silver certification by the end of this year.
“We’re getting ready for one of our World Class Manufacturing audits,” Tunis said when interviewed in April. “We have three professional maintenance projects we’re showcasing. We have a World Class Manufacturing audit scheduled about every six months.”
Tunis was asked to describe what it’s like to work at a stamping plant.
“It’s very organized chaos,” he said. “It’s very chaotic but the amount of organization and control and mechanics is just tremendous. We have dies the same size as the pickup trucks we make.” When a stamping press has to be worked on, “We’re talking about gears the size of a table at a wedding.”
The stamping presses are “very similar to a Swiss watch but 200 times bigger,” he said.
This article was first published in the July 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read all of the 30 Under 30 2016 Profiles as a PDF.