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Future-proofing with automation: HS Inc.’s journey

Modern Industrialist Podcast

The episode:

HS Inc. is a success story of a family-owned manufacturing company surviving and thriving by future-proofing itself. Today its Director of Business Development, Paul St. Louis, joins the show to tell us about their fifty-year evolution from mold maker to automation integrator.

Founded in 1969 close to Detroit Michigan, HS Inc. got its start creating parts for the automotive industry. As the industry changed, HS Inc. changed too. They use their know-how to pivot towards making modular systems that could be easily adapted by a variety of industries– yes, even machines that make sheet cake.

Paul walks us through how HS Inc. leveraged automation to future-proof itself and how it now does the same for its clients.

Plus, stay tuned to the end for our “what we saw in AI this week” section where we discuss the Apple Intelligence announcement.

The podcast:

Presented by TXI, The Modern Industrialist Podcast is for technology-focused manufacturing and logistics leaders looking to gain a competitive edge with Industry 4.0 transformation. Join our host Jason Hehman as he brings together experts from companies blazing the path for the IIoT revolution. Topics range from advice to success stories, use cases, solutions, and more.

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The expert:

Paul St. Louis is a seasoned automotive leader dedicated to helping manufacturers achieve their quality goals, improve OEE scores, and ensure customer satisfaction. With over 20 years of experience in industrial controls, electrical systems, and manufacturing processes, Paul has become an expert in creating real-world solutions to manufacturing challenges. He is an IIoT solution provider, Industry 4.0 champion, and AI guru who leverages cutting-edge technology to assist automotive companies in optimizing their operations.

Paul's journey to HS Inc. is marked by a diverse career path. Before joining the family-owned business, Paul honed his skills and knowledge in various roles within the automotive industry. At HS Inc., he oversees the development of engineering standards, contract negotiations, design consultations, training, installation, and service. He is also responsible for fostering long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders in global organizations, ensuring international communication and leadership within the automotive team.

Founded 50 years ago by Harold Steele, HS Inc. began as a tool and die manufacturer in Michigan, built on hard work and expertise in injection mold design and production. Under Paul's leadership, the company has pivoted from its original operations to focus entirely on developing automation solutions for parts suppliers who contract manufacture parts for top-tier US manufacturers like Ford and General Motors. Today, HS Inc. is renowned for its strength, quality, and consistency in high-precision, high-production projects across automotive, defense, aerospace, and consumer markets.

Paul is committed to Harold Steele's vision of valuing people as the company's greatest asset. He fosters a culture of respect and collaboration, both within the team and with customers. This dedication to building relationships and listening to every voice has earned HS Inc. the trust of national icons and innovators, continuing Harold Steele's legacy of excellence.

Podcast Host: Jason Hehman, Industry 4.0 Vertical Lead and Client Partner at TXI

Co-host: Matt Reich, Lead Software Engineer at TXI

Guest: Paut St. Louis, Director of Business Development at HS, Inc.

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Summary and themes explored in this episode:

Introduction and Background

  • Host Jason Heumann introduces the Modern Industrialist podcast, focusing on the digital revolution in the industrial sector.

  • Introduction of guest Paul St. Louis from HS Inc., who has over 20 years of experience in industrial controls, electrical systems, and manufacturing.

  • The episode aims to explore Paul's career journey, the evolution of HS Inc., and the impact of cutting-edge technology on the manufacturing landscape.

Paul's Career and HS Inc.'s Evolution

  • Paul St. Louis joins HS Inc. at the start of the year, bringing a strategic approach to leveraging Industry 4.0 technologies and AI.

  • Discussion of HS Inc.'s history as a family-held company since 1969, starting as a mold maker and evolving into an automation integrator.

  • The company's primary clientele includes automotive manufacturers, but it has expanded to various sectors like aerospace and food and beverage.

Automation and Mold Making

  • Explanation of mold making, particularly in the automotive industry, and the shift to automation to increase efficiency and reduce manual labor.

  • HS Inc.'s transition from mold making to automation integrator due to economic changes and international competition, particularly from China.

Technological Innovations and Adaptations

  • Implementation of robotics and automation in mold making and other manufacturing processes.

  • Adoption of modular mainframe systems that allow for interchangeable tooling, reducing floor space and improving efficiencies.

  • HS Inc.'s strategy of staying ahead of the curve by continuously adapting and integrating new technologies.

Industry 4.0 and AI

  • The importance of understanding and implementing AI in manufacturing, with a focus on practical applications and ROI.

  • Examples of AI applications such as vision systems for inspection and robotic path improvements.

  • Challenges in integrating AI, including data infrastructure requirements and cybersecurity concerns.

Digital Twins and Spatial Computing

  • Growing interest in digital twins for simulating manufacturing lines and improving efficiency through predictive maintenance and remote troubleshooting.

  • The intersection of digital twins with spatial computing and advancements in machine tending robots.

Workforce and Knowledge Transfer

  • Addressing the changing demographics of the workforce and the importance of knowledge transfer through technologies like AR and VR.

  • Examples of using digital tools to train new employees and maintain consistent operational standards across different facilities.

HS Inc.'s Future Directions

  • Plans for explosive growth by diversifying the customer base and expanding into new sectors.

  • Development of next-generation modular systems with built-in Industry 4.0 readiness.

  • Commitment to continuous innovation and maintaining strong relationships within the industry.

Published by Jason Hehman , Patrick Turley in podcasts

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