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ENGINEERING AT ITS BEST
CASE IH ENGINEER OFFERS AN INSIDE LOOK AT TRACTOR MANUFACTURING
Case Corporation, Racine, Wis., recruited Rob Schleicher for his leadership skills honed by more than six years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As a Boston University graduate in aerospace engineering, Schleicher says agriculture was not a focus, but an opportunity that he couldn't pass up.

Rob Schleicher, new product manufacturing specialist for CNH has been instrumental in the design, manufacture and launch of the 2003 MX Magnum tractor.
Schleicher began his career at Case Corp. in 1998 as a production supervisor, where he managed approximately 40 cab assembly line workers at the Racine Tractor Plant. In 2000, he moved to the position of process engineer on the final assembly line, a position much more focused on engineering than supervising. After Case Corp. merged with New Holland in 2001, the new entity needed a person with experience in many areas for the position of new product manufacturing specialist.

"CNH was looking for someone who knew the assembly process, had a good rapport with the people on the line and could voice concerns to the design engineers," says Schleicher. "I had the most broad-based experience of all of the engineers on the floor and was chosen to be the liaison between manufacturing and design."

A DAY'S WORK

Schleicher is currently in the process of launching the 2003 Case IH MX Magnum tractor, along with the similar-platform New Holland TG.

The job, specifically with the Magnum tractor, requires Schleicher to build the prototype schedule and coordinate design reviews with both process and design engineers to ensure manufacturing success. The job also calls him to assist with issues that arise on the assembly line. For example, he says there could be a problem where a hood is not fitting on a prototype tractor. In this situation, Schleicher relays this problem to the design engineer, and that person inspects the problem and modifies the design to make the tractor manufacturable.

This can often be the most difficult part of the job, says Schleicher. "Making the design engineers understand the manufacturing process and concerns that manufacturing has with what is designed can be difficult," he explains. "Explaining to design engineers why changes must be made to their designs in order to help the assembly process takes a lot of understanding of the entire tractor manufacturing process."

He says "finding the middle ground" between both of these groups is the most challenging part of the job, but seeing the shiny, red result makes it worthwhile. Schleicher says he is fascinated when he stops to think about the launch of the new MX Magnum. "What I enjoy most is seeing how the tractor began a year ago in development stages and how much influence I have had on building a quality tractor."

Schleicher also likes working in the fast-paced, challenging environment of tractor manufacturing. He says his schedule is always changing and each day is different from the next. "I like that there are new challenges every day and that I am able to work with many different personalities," he explains.

UP AHEAD

Schleicher, having worked with many different types of engineers, offers this advice to future engineers: "Know the entire process, develop your people skills, be open-minded and learn how to handle constructive criticism." Furthermore, Schleicher advises that those in the industry need to work on getting outside of their own box to look at the big picture.

He also suggests that those interested in engineering need to be familiar with specialized programs such as the 3-D CAD system called Pro-Engineer, which is used to complete design models and revise drawings.

´´pportunities in the engineering industry seem to be plentiful, although a USDA/Purdue University study indicates that the number of graduates in the next few years will outweigh the number of jobs. Nonetheless, Schleicher says once you get your foot in the door of the ag engineering field, "the opportunities are endless." He claims, "There are so many different opportunities in the ag business, such as manufacturing, marketing, working with dealers, finance, logistics and testing ... I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!" AM


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