Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has completed a $30 million, 200,000 sq.-ft. expansion of its manufacturing facility in Shippensburg, Pa., and is now in full production of its comprehensive heavy equipment line. The broad-scale expansion of the facility began in June of 2009 to improve manufacturing flow and increase production capacity to meet an anticipated growth in the demand for construction equipment in North America and to incorporate the full-line production of Volvo motorgraders.
The new facility now covers 580,000 sq. ft. and is a major member of the worldwide Volvo Construction Equipment industrial operations spread across four continents. Employment has risen to approximately 600 at the expanded Pennsylvania industrial complex.
In a recent statement, Pat Olney, executive vice president operations, of Volvo Construction Equipment, said that the building of the facility “is a testament to the importance that Volvo CE places on our dealers and customers in the North American market. Volvo remains as committed today as ever to invest the resources — money, people, know-how — in developing the Shippensburg facility for the future.
Despite the difficult economic environment, we maintained our commitment to the $30 million investment at this factory in Shippensburg — not a penny was cut from the expansion program budget during this crisis, because we are committed to providing a state-of-the-art production facility here in the United States to serve our customers where they work.
“We have increased our commitment to road products in North America. Research and development in North America has increased during the crisis, and we are currently investing heavily in engineering to provide enhancements that are requested by our customers; to take care of customers who have put their trust in Volvo; to secure the development of the next generation of products to meet your demands; and, to continue to invest in research into future technologies to provide our customers with a competitive edge in productivity, safety and environmental performance,” said Olney.
The Shippensburg facility currently produces more than 60 models of Volvo asphalt pavers, soil and asphalt compactors, milling machines and motorgraders. The expansion, in addition to the installation of new and extensive equipment assembly systems, includes a high-speed motorgrader test track, a rubber pit for testing vibrators-on compactors, and a broad-spectrum materials service center.
Production line practices at the plant have been implemented that integrate equipment components and tools at strategic line stations to create more effective assembly procedures. This, in turn, will increase equipment production and reduce delivery time. The LEAN 5S+1 system — an element of the Volvo Production System that is being established by plant management — substantially eliminates wasted motion and time in the assembly process by placing assembly elements at the line locations to balance, synchronize, and cut actual production times. The manufacturing plant carries ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSA 18001 certifications.
The facility’s close proximity to major shipping routes will simplify and speed distribution throughout North America and a streamlined support and supply chain will increase the company’s production capabilities. These were among the major reasons for the decision to invest in the expansion and modernization project in Pennsylvania, according to the manufacturer.
Göran Lindgren, president of Volvo Construction Equipment North America said, “The development of this facility is yet another demonstration of the commitment we have made to our dealers and customers to provide them with the finest construction equipment on the market today. It opens new roads for our sales and marketing operations in North America to meet the opportunities of recent market forecasts… and to meet those opportunities with a production facility located within the market we serve.”
A major element in the expansion plans for the new Volvo manufacturing facility was to build one of North America’s most innovative and environmentally friendly buildings. The focus was on sustainability in its design, construction, operation and culture to meet the extremely high standards of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
LEED certification ensures that there is a focus on energy reduction and environmental care during construction and in ongoing operations. Energy efficiency is promoted, for example, with a customized building automation system, high efficiency lighting, skylights and substantial insulation.
“This facility has been built to create a work environment that promotes eco-friendly practices and is sustainable,” explained Chris Stone, director of industrial support and projects in Shippensburg. “One of Volvo’s core values is care for the environment, and every aspect of our facility now emphasizes the importance of that worldwide standard. We are working hard to achieve LEED certification.”
The expansion of the plant and its manufacturing capabilities was made possible in part by a $1 million Opportunity Grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development.
Jim Thompson, president, Operations Americas (manufacturing) and the plant’s general manager said, “The major investment that this company has made in these rather uncertain times sends to our marketplace a firm declaration of our commitment to manufacturing excellence. In addition to new manufacturing technologies for more efficient production, we are fortunate to have the best work teams in the business who produce Volvo equipment for a knowledgeable and demanding market. They provide and maintain efficient production procedures and technology for the benefit of our customers and to meet the most demanding manufacturing standards in the world.”
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