Taking a gun to the board at DMR

This blog continues with my observations gleaned while touring the DMR (Design, Manufacture and Remanufacture) facility in Hibbing, Minn. It is one of the six manufacturing plants strategically located throughout the U.S. and in Mexico operated by Detroit Diesel Remanufacturing (Detroit Reman), the leader in the remanufacture of products for on and off-highway power systems.

The DMR facility specializes in the remanufacture of a complete line of electronic and mechatronic components under various brands, including the Detroit Genuine Parts brand for Daimler Truck North America’s on-highway market.

Besides the calm and quiet at the DMR plant, I was surprised by the amount of hand soldering that goes on there. While there are automated soldering machine, hand soldering is required owing to the customization involved with much of the work done at the plant. 

Have a go

At one work station during the tour, I was invited to try my hand at soldering components to an electronic control board. The idea was to look at the enlarged video camera view of the board on a computer screen while soldering.

I hesitated to give it a go because I was afraid I'd embarrass myself in front my fellow industry journalists, and the plant officials and workers. The last time I used a soldering gun was many, many years ago when I assembled a transistor radio kit.

What the heck. I decided. I sat down at the workstation and managed to solder in the components. But, it was done ever so slowly and by looking directly at the board rather than the computer screen.

I'm certain that given enough time and practice I could eventually be certified for soldering.

To the competition

Later on in the plant tour came a soldering competition. The scenario was that a Greyhound Bus' DDEC (Detroit Diesel Electronic Control) engine control module (ECM) was not functioning properly and needed a wire soldered to two particular leads to "jump" the problem and get the bus started.

This challenge was as a learning experience for us truck journalists and to tie in with the 99th anniversary of Greyhound Bus Lines which was founded in Hibbing in 1914 by Swedish immigrant Carl Eric Wickman who began transporting miners from Hibbing to Alice, Minn., for 15 cents a ride.

Each contestant was given a different wiring schematic to follow for the soldering task. A prize would be awarded to the one with the fastest time for a correctly repaired ECM.

I figured I had the competition in the bag given my earlier soldering experience.

I'm proud to say I had one of the fastest times. My repair, however, had to be reworked. I was informed that I had soldered one end of the jumper wire to a wrong lead.

I'm pretty sure my wiring schematic had been tampered with.