‘No North American Team has done this’ - Iowa aerospace operations team going to Japan

Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 6:02 AM CST
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ORANGE CITY, Iowa (KTIV) - There are a lot of parts that go into the manufacturing of an airplane. Some of those parts are made right here in Iowa.

Employees from Sekisu Aerospace Operations, in Orange City, Iowa, are now going abroad for a global competition.

“No North American team has ever done this. That’s huge,” said Halle O’Connor, Sekisui Orange City Master Technician. “And we’re gonna brag about it for a long time.”

From Orange City to Japan, a Sekisui Aerospace Operations team looks to claim its prize and make a name for themselves.

Sekisui provides engineering products for commercial aerospace and defense markets and produces composite structures, systems and engine components. Orange City is one of only three United States facilities.

“We think we have a really good project. And we really want to prove that we are able to stack up against everyone else that goes there as well,” said Matthew Van Roekel, who does destructive inspection for Sekisui.

The brainpower won a North American Regional Competition that all started once determined a beavertail carbon fiber part used in an aircraft engine was defective.

“You have to find and dig and investigate the process in order to figure out what the problem really is,” said Craig Kallemey, the manager behind the team.

Then a team of 17 employees executed a nine-step process to find the solution to the failure. Kallemeyn said teamwork was critical for problem-solving.

“And you solve it at not just the surface level. But you get down into the root cause,” said Kallemeyn.

The breakthrough solution not only saved costs but ultimately limited the defect rate.

“I think this project gave us a path forward to solve more projects. The same way, we came at it as a group, and not just as individuals,” said Van Roekel.

The experts behind the innovation will compete in Japan next week against 13 other groups around the world for the global title. The winner of the competition will be announced on Jan. 20.