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A Year of Expansion and Success for Superior Trim: 2023 Transformer Impact Award Winner

Success Stories, Impact Award, Automation Fair
November 30, 2023

When your mantra is to continuously find ways to improve, turning tradition on its head becomes part of the day-to-day routine. Superior Trim has found itself in the unique position of transforming into a top supplier to the heavy truck market and outpacing goals not only in annual sales but also with accolades from the industry. For the past 16 years, Superior Trim has worked with Plex to bring their operations into an era of smart manufacturing.

The Impact Awards are a way to celebrate and recognize the extraordinary achievements of our customers, highlighting their successes from the past year. Superior Trim is the 2023 Transformer Impact Award Winner, a sure sign of their impressive efforts to transform the way they do business and modernize their facilities through automation and Plex technology.

Superior Trim

Superior Trim started as a single-plant, niche supplier for handmade, low-volume, and interior trim parts. They currently serve as a leading supplier to the heavy truck market, with a wide array of diverse processes: injection mold, thermoforming, cut-and-sew, 2D and 3D compression molding, molded foam, wood processing, assembly, waterjet cutting, and sequencing. Their current clients include Peterbilt, Kenworth, Navistar, Volvo, Mack, and Daimler and they operate across seven manufacturing plants in three different locations (Ohio, Tennessee, and Mexico). Their Plex implementation marks an era of major improvements for the company as it continues to expand its business.

Leading the Heavy Truck Market in Style

Although Superior Trim initially implemented Plex in 2007, the past three years are when they started to rev the engine on transforming their operations—the 2023 year, specifically, stands out as a hallmark time for the company. They are one of the most decorated tier-1 companies in the heavy truck market and have numerous awards from PACCAR, DTNA, Navistar, and Volvo to show for it. Beyond awards, they also have numbers working in their favor. A testament to their willingness to improve and adjust, their sales have doubled since 2017. This is considerably impressive, given that the timeline includes the COVID-19 pandemic when many industries found themselves struggling with supply chain delays among other serious challenges.

While the full year numbers aren’t in yet, Super Trim is hopeful the trend of increasing sales will continue. They are currently projected to beat their 2022 numbers by double digits (and their 2022 sales were already up by a record-breaking 26% compared to the previous year). Beyond sale indicators, Superior Trim has seen positive indications in other areas of the business. These successes have allowed the company to expand and diversify into other fields. With that, their newest product offering has positioned Superior Trim as a premium golf cart seating supplier, and they also launched their first interior for the school bus market in Q4 of 2023.

Tapping on Plex for Outstanding Results

But how did they achieve these results? Superior Trim points to Plex as a critical player in improving their processes and the benefits are plentiful:

  • Their smart production recording and inspection processes increased efficiencies, reduced scrap, and reduced inventory adjustments on the production. As a part of this, direct labor is down year over year to 7.8% from 9.0%.
  • With the help of Plex, Superior Trim integrated thermoform machines to improve accuracy of OEE, actual production cycle times and reduce mislabeling of parts. This integration has allowed their thermoforming facility to step up as an industry leader.
  • By integrating the cutting (waterjet) and sequencing processes, they were able to eliminate the manual entry of cut-file numbers. The waterjet now pulls from 9,999 cut files automatically from the customer's EDI via Plex, ensuring the file is cut properly every time. Since kicking this off in 2020, Superior Trim has received a top-quality award from PACCAR at the plant where this integration has been implemented.
  • A major investment in their 2D trim panel assembly, the Lightguide system is fully integrated through API calls to report bin-for-bin production and automatically put a part on "hold" if it doesn't pass the work-instruction inspection. This includes overhead projectors that light up the next component for the operator, shows them where to assemble it, and then provides a green check mark once assembled. Once the part is confirmed "good" they "earn" a label for the part.

With the entirety of these advancements, Superior Trim has decreased employee training time and will improve retention due to more user-friendly processes. For an industry that is often considered “old school,” Superior Trim is relentless in their pursuit to keep things fresh. They hope to inspire other companies in the field to follow their lead and bring other heavy truck market suppliers into the modern era.

The 2023 Transformer Impact Award

The Superior Trim team rallied around Plex to reimagine how their facilities could evolve and improve, and the results speak for themselves. As Superior Trim continues to broaden their utilization of Plex across their plants, we know there are only more positive results to come. The Plex team cannot wait to hear about those outcomes. Congratulations to Superior Trim for being selected as the 2023 Transformer Impact Award Winner!

See how Superior Trim leverage smart manufacturing solutions to improve processes and become the 2023 Transformer Impact Award Winner.

To learn more about how manufacturers transform their operations with smart manufacturing solutions from Plex, read a success story here.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.