Technical Center—engineers put their capabilities and insights to test, forging the path for the North America Aisin Group

  • Northville, Michigan, U.S.
  • Aisin Technical Center of America (ATC-A)

Corporate Data

Company Name:
Aisin Technical Center of America (ATC-A)
Northville, Michigan, U.S.
Business description:
Design, evaluation, and engineering trend survey in the field of automotive parts (e.g., car bodies, powertrains, electronics, chassis, and safety devices)

Interview with Erik, ATC-A

Tell us about yourself and what you do at ATC-A.

I belong to ATC-A's Roof Group which is a team within the Car Body division, and I design sunroofs. More specifically, I design top load panoramic sunroofs and new systems for them, and I occasionally assist with product benchmarking and North America customer support.

Erik at his desk.
Erik at his desk.

Could you tell us a bit about ATC-A?

ATC-A was founded to strategically design and develop products targeting North American markets and maximize the efficiency of local operations. It is a production, knowledge, and customer support hub to leverage human assets as well as geographic advantages both at home and overseas. ATC-A gathers engineering expertise needed for products targeting Europe and America, builds robust customer relationships for better engagement, and monitors entire product lifecycles for responsive and efficient product control.

ATC-A also takes the initiative when it comes to improving efficiency and collaborating in R&D across Aisin North America group companies.
It provides an open office concept, a series of internal, casual gathering, areas, where team members discuss and share creative, forward-looking ideas.

Spanning a vast area of 4,000 square meters, ATC-A's product design laboratory is now home to Aisin designing and engineering. It is furnished with a complete set of laboratory equipment and instruments for designing, drawing, prototyping, and testing for ensured consistency in product development.

ATC-A lab researchers and engineers test and evaluate:

  • Product performance (at both unit and system scale)
  • Resistance/strength in exposure to temperature, humidity, corrosion, ultra violet rays etc.
  • Endurance
  • Materials
  • Drivetrains
  • Manufacturing/machining workflows
Erik taking a look at a roof part with an engineer
Erik taking a look at a roof part with an engineer

Please share some of the current industry trends in North America with us.

As I mentioned earlier, I work in the field of automotive sunroofs. In recent years, we’ve seen a shift from single panel to double glazed panoramic roof windows. The trend spurs users' preference towards interior comfort and requires vehicle manufacturers to offer high-quality and innovative products.

So, what tactics will you employ to overcome this challenge?

As a sunroof designer at ATC-A, I always strive to ensure that what I do paves the way for future market opportunities while ensuring that Aisin maintains its existing business. Using monitoring metrics, I watch market tendencies in both North America and Europe so as to understand the latest trends and specifications that customers and end users want, and I always endeavor to anticipate what is coming next and to offer something more.

Product safety is another aspect upon which I place a lot of importance. Once a design is finalized, I visit customer sites such as factories and sales offices to see that both the products on the production lines and those which we have supplied are of the highest possible quality. Our products must be compliant with all regulatory requirements in order to ensure confidence in end users, so I keep up-to-date on the latest governmental regulations.

I do what I do in the best way that I can. I hone my skills to become capable enough to be a senior engineer in the near future, who heads up a project and drives design, production and development teams forward.

At the ATC-A Halloween party. Seasonal events encourage team member engagement.
At the ATC-A Halloween party. Seasonal events encourage team member engagement.

Please tell us about your city, Northville, Michigan.

Michigan is the tenth most populous of the 50 United States, and the 11th largest in terms of total area. It is known as "the Great Lakes State" due to its more than 11,000 inland lakes and ponds. Northville, where ATC-A is located, is a vibrant city proud of its 150-year history, with a charming cityscape, a bustling business district, and a number of parks and hiking trails which residents and visitors alike enjoy whenever they need to unwind.
The city lies 44 km (a half-hour drive) from Detroit, the largest United States city on the United States–Canada border. Detroit is also known as the Motor City and has long been recognized as the historic heart of the automotive industry worldwide. The geographical convenience of Northville attracts leading automotive manufacturers and suppliers, many of which have their engineering sites here, and they are all just a few minutes’ drive from ATC-A.

The magnificent contrast of the weathered land against the pristine blue lake superior seen at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The Renaissance Center skyscraper complex on the Downtown Detroit Riverfront. Owned by General Motors and used as its world-wide headquarters.

What do you do for fun?

Michigan is a paradise for outdoor lovers. People here love soccer, American football, mountain biking, and running, and many also have boats and villas to enjoy weekends surrounded by the natural beauty of the northern area and the Upper Peninsula.
Detroit and the surrounding areas host music and cultural festivals one after another in spring and summer. In the warm seasons, international and local auto shows showcase all sorts of cars, including high-end executive and classic cars that would cost a small fortune, luring car enthusiasts from around the globe.

Crossing a stream in a forest on horseback.
Erik and his family at a mountain hike in Vail, Colorado.