Saint-Gobain Seals’ Bristol, Rhode Island, Team Works Together with Boston University Students to Improve Meldin Split Piston Rings Machining Process
Saint-Gobain Seals’ team members collaborated with Boston University students, Megan Fantom, Sophia Perriseau, Shannon Sulmasy and Katherine Taube, to improve the machining process for Meldin split piston rings that are designed and manufactured at the Bristol, Rhode Island, site. The project is one of Saint-Gobain Seals’ initiatives to retain and develop women within the organization in order to engage and support the next generation of female engineers. At the end of the project, the group of women developed a new design that will decrease physical labor to a fraction of the initial demands and produce six times more rings per run, making the system 362% more efficient.
“They were very intrigued in working with our company because of the kindness our engineer, Carlos Hinton, had shown them in the initial communication. Once the stud ents arrived for a tour and a better introduction to the proposed projects, we found that this year’s group of students were all female engineers, which we thought was great to see so many females in a usually male-dominated profession,” Kayla Lacombe, Lead Machinist, said.
Currently, women make up about 47 percent of the labor force, but only 27 percent are part of the manufacturing industry. There are a number of factors that contribute to the lack of female engineers going into or remaining in technical fields such as encountering sexism, having a lack of representation, being stereotyped and experiencing motherhood; however, in all stages of the engineering profession, women are necessary in order to address the industry’s growing labor need.
Lacombe, who just received her five year service award, added, “They really felt it was empowering to work with a woman in such a male-dominated industry. They were able to see how far women have come in the industry and in this company alone.”
The improved efficiency of the Meldin split piston rings is extremely valuable since the product is used in many automotive core applications such as brake systems for active safety and climate control systems for driving comfort. The Bristol site is Saint-Gobain Seals’ key location in the United States for their automotive customers and supports other key sites in Wertheim and Neuhaus, Germany; and Minhang, China. Aside from split piston rings, the Meldin product line also includes seals rings, thrust washers, injection molded parts, scroll tips, bearings, washers, electric harness components, bushings, vanes, and push pins that are used in aerospace, automotive, industrial, electronics and life sciences.