Every year I try to start with a "State of the Union" blog to shed light on what was done the prior year and what the overall goals are for the new year. This year is no different, so without further ado, let's dig in.
2021 provided every opportunity for BenzForce to meet its objectives but I didn't hit the mark. Several projects were started then ran out of steam. These include the 6R80 and CD009 adapters. I also hit a wall with the om606 exhaust manifold. First off the angles are difficult to gauge without having a project w210 to work with. Next, the 3D printer was damaged and I needed to work through the issues with it. Both of these obstacles have been addressed for and we're getting back on track.
There are two disappointments about last year in the dyno testing and the pump building. If you haven't followed the social media posts closely, the transmission adapter on the dyno car has been nothing but a problem. I am already on the second flywheel now and it's already having problems with less than 50 miles on it. Frankly, it's hard to get amped up to work on a 617 and continue to fund it for testing when other people have already done it. The other tests are crude, in my opinion, as the dyno car is equipped with an AEM CAN system providing engine data and intercooler temperature measurements to a data logging system allowing people to see exactly what is going on throughout the entire test.
The other missed goal was pump building. This comes down to training and economics. When people see the price of upgrades they often think it's all profit but that is not the case. There is the cost of Dieselmeken hardware, gaskets, equipment cost, test fluids, and most significantly is the 4-6 hours labor to build a pump. After those expenses, the labor rate turns out to be much less than the profit of other activities.
This brings us to 2022. This year, like those before it, come with some lofty goals. Some will be realized, some won't and some will change. The decision has been made to start to treat BenzForce as a full-fledged business. Up to this point, it has only been given a small portion of my time and resources, but that will be changing. At this point, I have two more project-based mechanical engineers starting in Q1. The goal is to crank out parts for the om648 and look back at the om602. If time permits the m112 is still waiting to go into the Nissan 240sx. Additionally one of the engineers will be working primarily on the transmission adapters. If that effort progresses as expected, I have several more adapters I would like to see made. Additionally, we are actively working on the design of a universal performance shifter for manual transmissions, w123 carbon fiber instrument cluster blanks, an exhaust diverter valve, additional oil and fuel fittings, a BorgWarner exhaust flange, and some miscellaneous pump parts. New parts that are either in manufacturing or waiting to be sent are an angled 45-degree T3 turbo drain, oil filter relocation plates for the om617 and om606, and Mercedes flange to Spicer U-Joint driveshaft adapters.
This year I would also like to replace the BMW test car with a w123. A while back I did a post on making model-specific parts for things like brakes, steering, mounts, etc. To do that, I need to get a car to build on and the BMW won't hack it.
With all the potential product development spread across resources, business processes have become crucial. This is where my bread and butter skill set comes into play: Product Data Management and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). BenzForce has a CAD solution in place for teams and has already acquired licensing for Autodesk Upchain which will help manage the PLM process. Upchain promises to deliver on core PLM concepts such as item data (costing, lifecycle, revisions, etc), suppliers, approved supplier lists, manufacturers, manufacturer parts, bills of material, projects, etc; hopefully, it lives up to the hype. With sound business processes, a solid infrastructure/technology platform that enforces those processes, and experienced engineers, the product development effort should yield premium products. At the same time, it allows the business to become much more efficient in terms of time, component reuse, and reduction in manufacturing errors which will lower overall cost for BenzForce and the customer.
I hit on pump building earlier and the economics of building those in-house. Regardless of the opportunity cost of us performing this function, I do believe it's best to move that service under our roof from an intellectual property standpoint and to offer the best customer support. Finding a domestic trainer is currently in the works and ultimately a trip to Sweden would be in order.
So there it is! This is more of an introductory blog and soon I hope to blog on monthly manufacturing updates, BenzForce technology highlights, and revising our origins.