The 50-year old, East Aurora-based manufacturer, Astronics Luminescent Systems, Inc., Astronics LSI, is a leading manufacturer of interior and exterior lighting products and supporting components for the aircraft industry. Some of the world’s most well-known commercial and military aircraft rely on lighting solutions from Astronics LSI.

In 2018, Astronics LSI joined the Shift program and over the next few months attended a series of workshops including Change Management, Robotics 101, Lean Manufacturing, and Options Testing to continue to build out their plan and prepare for additional technology adoption. Astronics LSI recently completed the Shift Innovation Audit where a team of Shift partners from Buffalo Manufacturing Works and Insyte Consulting worked with the Astronics team to identify opportunities for technology and process solutions throughout their organization. This process included interviews, a floor tour, and collaborative discussions about how technology can support Astronics’ long-term goals and strategic plans.

The Shift team asked Pat Pierce, Manufacturing Engineering Manager, about Astronics’ experience participating in the Shift program and here is what he had to say.

What was it about the changing manufacturing ecosystem that prompted you to enroll in Shift?

We’ve been in manufacturing for 50 years, and the continuously dynamic manufacturing ecosystem creates new challenges for us with both suppliers and customers. Increased customer demand and faster delivery requests, coupled with growing supplier lead-times and difficult resource hiring, challenge us to continuously improve our engineering, technology, and manufacturing processes. Our strategic plan involves bringing our technology and processes in line with the evolution of Industry 4.0. The Shift program offers us a structured way to make our plans reality. 

What facets or areas of your current capabilities are you looking to enhance through the Shift program?

Through the Shift program, we expect to improve our machining and assembly capabilities while supplementing our production staff with automation.  Strategically incorporating newer concepts like material moving and robotics into our production operations will help us achieve a variety of our goals. We can reduce demanding or repetitive tasks to more productively employ our manufacturing staff, ramp up throughput to meet customer demands, and improve quality. We believe that as we start to incorporate newer technology into our processes, additional benefits will be observed. 

What types of companies would benefit most from the Shift program?

Manufacturing companies that strive to be competitive in today’s markets and not are sure where to begin with newer technologies, such as automation and additive manufacturing, will benefit from The Shift program.  The Shift program workshops provide the foundation and an introduction of the tools needed to formulate a strategy for implementing technological innovations. Equally important is the networking opportunities afforded to participants in the program.