Bobcat Company is planning a $9.5-million expansion of its Bismarck, ND, facility.
The expansion includes development of a manufacturing support center (MSC), rather than an addition to the existing plant. The new facility will be approximately 100,000 sq. ft. and should open up space at the current factory for additional fabrication and assembly, according to the company.
The groundbreaking for the MSC will be late first quarter of 2005; the facility should be complete and fully operational sometime during the fourth quarter.
A “sequencing center” will enable supplier components to be sub-assembled prior to being sent to the current Bismarck plant for final assembly.
“Operationally, this puts us at the forefront of the industry,” said Gerald Swimmer, an Ingersoll-Rand vice president. “Our vision is to be a global industrial enterprise with market-leading brands. We have the market-leading brands in Bobcat and others. Now, in terms of processes and logistical improvements, this is another step toward world-class prominence. It also shows that Ingersoll-Rand can be globally competitive from North Dakota.”
The announcement was made during the 16th annual Economic Development Conference. Ingersoll-Rand and Bobcat officials made the announcement during the “Marketplace for Entrepreneurs,” because officials said the brands “epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit” within the state of North Dakota.
The facility also will include a “just-in-time” parts control area to support the Bismarck plant, and everything will be tied together with a routing and information management system, communicating directly with the factory’s assembly lines. The site of the MSC is in the Northern Plains Commerce Centre (NPCC).
Bismarck Mayor John Warford unveiled plans for the NPCC in September. It will be Western North Dakota’s first foreign trade zone, on city-owned property adjacent to the Bismarck Airport.
The foreign trade zone designation means companies can import product components for finished goods without incurring duties. In addition to industrial facilities, construction in the area will include rail development and port buildings.
“We saw a synergy between our needs and the NPCC,” Mike Ryan, president and CEO of Bobcat, said. “We can utilize the rail interface, and it’s in a nice location, within a half mile of the current plant.”
Bobcat business grew approximately 17 percent in 2003 over 2002. According to the company, 2004 will reflect an even higher rate of growth. Ryan attributed this growth to the organization’s “lean” approach to manufacturing and its world-class product offerings.
“It’s all about waste elimination, standardization, one-piece flow and customer pull,” he said. “The result is speed of delivery to the market.”
Ryan added that hand-in-hand with the lean approach is quality, maximized by “process optimization, process control and variation reduction. This new facility is a great example of continuous improvement of a process,” he said. “This expansion enables us to do things better, in a shorter amount of time, while freeing up the space for more fabrication and assembly at the current Bismarck plant.”
He added that the expansion is another step toward establishing a “global footprint” for Bobcat. “It’s about growing locally, in order to support global growth in the market,” he said.
Though it was founded and built on the success of the skid steer loader –– which was first mass produced in 1958, Bobcat Company is now known as one of the premier manufacturers of compact equipment: various models of skid steer and track loaders, mini loaders, utility vehicles, compact excavators, loader backhoes, telescopic tool carriers and the Toolcat 5600 utility work machines.
“This investment in the new Bismarck facility reflects Ingersoll-Rand’s intention to maintain its leadership position in the compact equipment industry,” Swimmer said. “In addition, this investment acknowledges Ingersoll-Rand’s continued dedication to growth in the United States and North Dakota.
“Our employees are key to our success, and Bobcat employees have consistently demonstrated operational excellence as they develop innovative, market-transforming products and services. Their ongoing dedication will contribute powerfully to Ingersoll-Rand’s overall dramatic growth.”