I just returned from a meeting in Chicago where Thule was reviewing the 2013 Spring lineup. Chicago is home of Thule's North American cargo box manufacturing facility. One of the great things about working for a company that manufactures domestically is that it is easy to access our facilities and get a first hand look as to how our products are made.
As a matter of fact, about 80% of Thule branded items sold in the US are actually made here! The Chicago plant is just one of two major US facilities that produce product for our Sport & Cargo division.
Below are a series of photos highlighting our technology of manufacturing along with the human side of assembly of the world's best cargo boxes.
The abbreviated process goes something like this (follow the images left to right):
- First, the raw (recycled) sheet stock arrives on pallets
- The metal form for the box is pulled from the shelf and placed in the oven along with the sheet stock
- The sheet stock and form are heated in a large oven until the plastic is pliable
- The forms are then pushed up into the heated sheet stock to make the top and bottom of the box
- After they are cooled, a robot cuts the excess trim from the formed half's
- Tops and bottoms are stored and ready to be joined together as orders dictate their demand
- Two and four person teams install the hardware, attach the top and bottom together and QC the box before it's packaged for delivery
- Once assembled, they are wrapped, padded, bagged and boxed in preparation for shipment via LTL
- Several hundred boxes are ready to go for delivery within days of retailers order