April '19

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54 • RV PRO • April 2019 rv-pro.com A F T E R M A R K E T and then we're able to push it hydraulically in all dif- ferent directions." In addition to stress t e s t i n g , Pro g re s s a l s o conducts cycle tests on its hitches to simulate actual working condi- tions. SAE International standards testing is done in-house as well to ensure the products will receive an SAE stamp when they're sent to independent labs. The company also prides itself on building every hitch and all components with U.S.-made steel, a statement Anderson says helps Equal-i-zer stand out from its competitors. "We're using suppliers that we've been using for nearly 50 years on some components. On others, funny enough, the steel industry about 10 years ago had a big rollup and so some of them have a different name now, but they're the same com- pany," Anderson says. "We're actually visiting those mills and working with them to make sure that not only do we get what we want, but we also understand metallurgy to the point that we can recipe our steel as we need it." Once materials make it to the company's 80,000-square- foot production floor, the scrutiny continues. "We do what's called capabilities studies where our quality team actually goes out onto the floor and randomly – and also in an ordered manner – observes a process to verify that the operation is following the standard operating procedures for Maintenance Technician Claudio Correa has worked at Equal-i-zer hitch for 17 years. He enjoys being part of a company that feels like family. that process," Anderson says. "Then, they have conversations with those operators so that the operators are able to give feed- back and input on what could be done to improve the process either for quality or for safety or for efficiency." Then, individual parts are measured. "We're looking for even slight variations from the expected production," Anderson says. "Let's say there's a hole being drilled in a product. It has to be centered and it can be out of center by an eighth of an inch. Our quality team is checking those processes to make sure that if that hole is trending out by even a hundredth of an inch out of center, they will then adjust the whole system to get it back into center well before it gets out of tolerance." The goal is to catch the potential for out-of-tolerance prod- ucts before they're ever made and every process in the system is evaluated monthly to ensure tolerances. Anderson believes it's a task that pays huge dividends once the hitches leave the factory. "It matters in not only how well the hitch goes together – because when you're installing the hitch as a dealer, you don't want to find out that there's a hole out of place that you can't Progress Mfg. has developed various sway control hitch models with differing towing capacities to meet different towing demands, such as those of RVers with small, lightweight towables and larger toy hauler trailers. The company debuted a new 16K hitch at the recent RVX show.

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