This is the Bilstein Hamilton manufacturing facility. Nestled in the rolling hills just outside of Cincinnati, this plant produces a majority of the OE shock applications you find on brands such as Mercedes, Chrysler, Nissan, and Chevy. Bilstein also caters to the high-performance supercar category. With output of nearly 8,000 shocks per day, this facility is a swarm of activity 14 hours a day.This is the Bilstein Hamilton manufacturing facility. Nestled in the rolling hills just ou Over the last 5 decades, the German-owned ThyssenKrupp Corporation has built a trusted name in automotive product technology. It all started back in 1873 when a German entrepreneur named August Bilstein began a small window hardware manufacturing business to meet the demands of the ever-expanding industrialized world. August's son Hans Bilstein took over the company in 1919 and was responsible for its swift growth and diversification. Using plating technology developed in the United States, Bilstein initiated a foundry which eventually evolved into Europe's first large-scale supplier of chrome-plated car bumpers. As the company grew, so did its product portfolio. From elevators to car jacks, Bilstein became a mainstay. August Bilstein's approach was simple really; build the very best product available. He conducted production based on utmost attention to detail. Then in 1954, Bilstein made the decision to enter the automotive shock absorber business. He perfected a new design and kept up with demands of prestigious OE manufacturers such as Daimler-Benz. Over the following 12 years Bilstein established 16 worldwide patents on gas-pressurized shock absorbers. At the same time, Americans were raiding the deserts, discovering the pleasures of recreational off-highway motoring as well as competitive desert racing. At the time, Bilstein's Mercedes-Benz shock absorbers were the cream of the crop. Naturally, their use became well-known and it wasn't uncommon to see a Meyers Manx running around on OE Mercedes dampers. The famed Baja 1000 race eventually led to the formal presence of Bilstein in North America. Today Bilstein employs nearly 200,000 people worldwide, realizing sales of more than $67 million annually. This large-scale presence doesn't just happen. It is the result of the meticulous procedure and protocol that is so often associated with German products. Recently we were invited to Bilstein's Cincinnati plant to go behind closed doors and see what goes into a Bilstein shock absorber. What we discovered was impressive. Although we can't show you a few of the critical steps due to confidentiality, let us assure you that August Bilstein's original concept of "product perfection" radiated in every aspect of the facility. Some 200 quality assurance procedures ensure each and every part of a Bilstein shock will perform flawlessly. In our opinion, it was almost silly to see such an obsessive approach to manufacturing. But hey, who are we to judge a company with more than 15 locations worldwide and net sales in the billion-dollar range? Check out some of the cool stuff we got to feast our eyes on inside the plant. 1. It all begins here in the Design and Validation center. This is where Bilstein engineers develop solutions to meet the growing demands of both OE and aftermarket customers. When we visited the facility, we witnessed several engineers working in front of computers like the one shown here. Typically it takes design engineers up to 2 years to complete a 2- to 3-phase project. Many of the resources Bilstein employs for OE shock design and manufacturing are also used to support its aftermarket product line.1. It all begins here in the Design and Validation center. This is where Bilstein engineer 2. First and foremost, Bilstein is a materials company. Every aspect of production revolves around its extensive market share in the raw carbon steel industry. In Europe it is the number two supplier of sheet steel material. With resources like that, efficiencies associated with focused component construction allow individual parts like these shock shafts to be mass-produced at a highly specialized plant, and then shipped globally to assembly facilities like Hamilton.2. First and foremost, Bilstein is a materials company. Every aspect of production revolve 3. These are raw steel shock bodies as they look prior to manufacturing. In essence, these steel pipes are responsible for dissipating the heat generated during shock motion. Material type, thickness, and grain structure are all areas of concern that Bilstein incorporates into quality control with these units. The next stop for them is a mechanized end closeout tool that seals up one end of the tube. Unfortunately this equipment was not running at the time of our visit.3. These are raw steel shock bodies as they look prior to manufacturing. In essence, these 4. This batch of shock bodies recently came out of the end close-off machine. The machine that processed these parts is quite impressive in size and spits out nearly 400 pieces per hour operating at over 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit.4. This batch of shock bodies recently came out of the end close-off machine. The machine 5. Here you can see one of the Bilstein shock technicians feeding a shock body into a robotic welder that installs a circular shock eye for applications with bushings.5. Here you can see one of the Bilstein shock technicians feeding a shock body into a robo 6. This machine is basically a glorified parts washer. Its purpose is to ensure that each and every shock body is free of shavings or other foreign substances after machining and welding prior to the shock assembly process. This unit is very important because any metallic dust contamination could potentially ruin a batch of shocks.6. This machine is basically a glorified parts washer. Its purpose is to ensure that each 1 | 2 | » | View Full Article Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!