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Setting The Pace: The Present & Future Directions Of Adamson Systems Engineering

Behind the scenes with a manufacturing powerhouse quietly producing professional audio products in Canada.

By Kevin Young January 8, 2019

Adamson S10 line array cabinets moving along to final production.

Sum Of The Parts

While Adamson is a company that specializes in transducers, it’s important to note that it’s just one division of the operation. Oliver explains that there are actually 14 work centers on the factory floor that all live and breathe together. “This can be daunting for someone who doesn’t love manufacturing and professional audio,” he notes. “Those that do embrace the vision are better equipped to deal with every aspect of pro audio. You learn to leverage infrastructure and intellectual property to adjust fluidly to the market as it changes.”

Initially, blood and sweat was required to accomplish that, but as the company scaled, he says: “You’re more financially able to support each division – the wood, metal and machine shops, paint lines, driver assembly, welding bays, etc. – act as if each were its own company. It’s like having 14 companies to manage, but the more you grow the more independent they become.”

Even with the advantages of technology and automation, some production aspects are still best served by human hands.

Each work center feeds final assembly lines that are engineered in-house and evolve apace as the manufacturing process is streamlined. “The final assembly lines were produced in our fabrication environment along with the pneumatic lift and rotate system with a capacity of up to 300 pounds without straining our assemblers,” Oliver notes.

Another recent innovation is a custom ERP software system that provides inventory and shipment priorities as well as work orders to each of the 14 work centers. This happens in real time via large monitors placed at each location, with every view on the factory floor mirrored in the production offices.

“ERP software has the tendency to make companies adjust their processes to fit the software workflow,” Oliver states. Additionally, using an existing platform involved paying licensing fees that scale with the growth of workforce, which consequently, lead to the company to develop a platform of its own, tailored to its specific needs.

Adamson reached out to multiple ERP software developers, ultimately building from an open-source platform. While it didn’t meet their criteria for manufacturing software on the scale the company required, it did provide a starting point. From there it was built from the ground up, on site, overseen by a full-time developer and team that identified problems and worked through the processes and workflow, an evolution process that took several years.

“Now the entire facility is overseen by two production offices that look as if they’ve been lifted from the USS Enterprise, with every production function represented graphically,” Oliver says. The building and production offices are divided in two, he continues: “Primary (part making) – laser cutting, punching, milling, welding, whatever, and Secondary (assembly processes), where we ‘white glove’ it.”

Coming Together

Of course, the primary driver of the expansion was to better facilitate the development of new technologies. Moving forward Adamson is continuing along the path Brock Adamson pointed to in 2013.

With loudspeaker systems, he notes, “Technology convergence will determine the future direction and shape of the entire ecosystem. In the technology that we use, firmware, software and hardware platforms have shown us how fluid they have become. Merging with power, management and the loudspeaker, the resulting systems are a testament to the raw impact of technology convergence.”

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About Kevin

Kevin Young
Kevin Young

Freelance Music and Tech Writer, Professional Musician and Composer
Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.
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