Kash Alur is a manufacturing engineer at Marlin Steel. Or as Marlin Steel President Drew Greenblatt likes to describe him, "manufacturing engineer rock star." Since arriving from the University of Maryland at College Park three years ago, he's been integral in helping Marlin expand its capacity in machining, computer-assisted design, ISO-level quality control and sheet metal fabrication (like the case study below of a job he designed.)
Marlin also had to learn a lot about its customers' businesses, as it did three years ago with Delta Air Lines. Delta has a jet maintenance facility in Atlanta, where it refurbishes the turbine blades from its own jet engines and those of other airlines. "They use heat on the blades," says Kash Alur, a design engineer at Marlin. "They use chemicals. They can't touch the blades with their hands. And they need a basket that holds the parts in a specific orientation."
Alur flew to Atlanta to see what the baskets had to do every day. "Delta did have baskets, but they were falling apart," he says. "I took measurements. I took notes. I took pictures." Turbine blades are heavy but delicate. The baskets had to be durable. They had to be stiff--Delta didn't want any flex at all. And they had to be interchangeable, able to hold all kinds of turbine blades. "They didn't want nine different kinds of baskets for nine different kinds of blades," says Alur. In essence, Delta wanted a high-tech dishwasher rack.
A revamped design process helped give Delta what it wanted. Alur's designs are in Marlin's computer system. He can email them to Delta, share them with the four other design engineers at Marlin, or tweak a design and instantly see how the changes work. "They've reordered a couple of times," he says. ...
Says designer Alur, "people come to us with a problem and we try to solve it." Marlin has taken something utterly pedestrian and turned it into a tool of innovation--for its customers.
Alas, he's leaving us today to depart for graduate studies at Georgia Tech University. We wish him well. Good luck and Godspeed, Kash.