In 2015, Engineering and Machining Precision in Tunis celebrates its fifth anniversary of producing, designing and testing high precision products for the aerospace, electronic and automotive industries. Its growth has been marked by a commitment to total quality management and continuous improvement. It is an exciting time to be involved in all three industries, where technological improvements are coming at an accelerated pace. In aerospace in particular, much of this advancement is driven by the introduction of private enterprise into the business of space launches.
The Final Frontier is Entered for the First Time by a Dog
The Space Age was launched in October, 1957 when the Soviet Union put Sputnik into orbit. The satellite was about the size of a beach ball and announced to the world that Soviet technology was world class. The Space Race was on.
Not only did the Soviet Union manage to put a satellite into orbit before the United States, but Sputnik sent constant beeps from its radio transmitter 24 hours a day to remind everyone, including the Americans, of the Soviet accomplishment. It orbited conveniently close to earth, so close that anyone with a pair of binoculars could see it race across the sky on a clear night.
The next month, the Soviets launched a dog into orbit. Laika, a terrier mix, was the first living creature to go into orbit. She survived a few hours and managed to make four complete circles around the globe while still alive. Some wags in the English speaking world christened her “Muttnik.”
The Americans tried to match the success of the Soviets in December with a launch of their own. Instead, many Americans watched a live broadcast of the rocket exploding on takeoff. It wasn’t until January, 1958 that the Americans successfully launched a satellite into orbit, using WWII era German rocket technology just as the Soviets did.
For the next three years, the two countries launched dozens of rockets with machines intended to either orbit the earth or take pictures of the moon. Many of them failed, but the ones that succeeded brought a host of new data about the far reaches of our atmosphere, and photos from perspectives that were impossible before, including the dark side of the moon.
Private Enterprise Becomes a Major Player In the Twenty-First Century
Every year, there is more private investment in space travel, as entrepreneurs compete with governmental space agencies. One of the challenges they face is the high cost of building rockets for a single use. The Holy Grail of the industry seems to be developing a reusable launch vehicle. Most industry experts estimate that reusability would reduce launch costs by 80 to 90 percent.United Launch Alliance, for example, announced in April, 2015 that its next generation Vulcan rocket will have a reusable first stage engine.
CEO Tory Bruno said “We will return them to the Earth …. return them to the factory to quickly recertify them, and then plop them under the next booster to fly." Blue Origin, founded 15 years ago by Jeff Bezos, is building the engines for United Launch Alliance while at the same time working to develop reusable rockets of its own. While the United Launch Alliance vehicle will be recovered in midair, the Blue Origin rocket is a vertical landing vehicle. According to Bezos, “We continue to be big fans of the vertical takeoff, vertical landing architecture. We chose VTVL because it’s scalable to very large size.” Companies targeting space tourists like Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace are feverishly working on reusable space planes. Since these companies engage in suborbital flights and their vehicles more closely resemble airplanes than rockets, the challenges are less daunting. Then there is Airbus, which is developing a rocket that lands on a runway. The vehicle is expected to be used on the Ariane 6 rocket flown by the European Space Agency, although it would also be compatible with other launch platforms. SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company, is developing a vertical landing reusable launch vehicle.
There is a lively debate about the advantages and disadvantages vertical landing and runway landing. The primary disadvantage of vertical landing is that it requires a substantial amount of fuel to slow the rocket down, which reduces potential payload. Its advantage is that development is much further along, and the vertical landing vehicles don’t require large wings. This allows the construction of much larger vehicles.
High Tech Industry Requires High Tech Suppliers
A firm like EMP, which does design, manufacturing and testing in house, is invaluable for aerospace companies
Few industries are as safety conscious as aerospace and automotive. And few require as much precision as electronics. In Tunisia, Engineering and Machining Precision (EMP) supplies all three with custom designed and manufactured components for domestic and international customers.
EMP has been in business since 2010 and has already earned a reputation for quality among such clients as Zodiac Aerospace, Hutchinson, Sagem, and Dytech. The company has also earned ISO 9001 certification and is about to complete EN9100 certification.
EMP is committed to a program of continuous quality improvement, providing intensive human resource development, in particular in leadership training, where young staff members are groomed for future responsibility. The company also places particular emphasis on client collaboration in design, research and development in order to improve quality and shorten design to manufacture times. At manufacture time, EMP has available a 4-axis machining center, 2 3-axis machining centers, a CNC lathe, a CNC lathe with C-axis, Electric Discharge Machining, 2 universal milling machines, and a mechanical lathe.
One area where EMP dedicates significant resources is technology and software, and its engineers use CATIA, SolidWorks and Mastercam, among other programs, giving them the ability to design and manufacture a huge array of parts. Not only does CMP use state of the art CNC manufacturing, but it has its own quality control laboratory on site providing continuous quality improvement throughout the build process.
In addition to manufacturing, EMP provides design, engineering and testing services for parts that require the highest degree of precision and tightest tolerances in the industry. From technical advice to prototyping to the final production run, EMP is capable of helping anyone with an idea make it a reality.
The BID committee was particularly impressed with the company’s emphasis on human resource development, its seamless process from concept to final product, and its collaborative approach to meeting client needs. Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, EMP has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015 at the convention in London.
ABOUT BID AND THE INTERNATIONAL QUALITY CROWN AWARD:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.