Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) will begin building excavators and excavator and wheel loader cabs at its Asheville, NC, manufacturing facility.
The company plans to invest, initially, $25 million with a possible additional $30 million over the next few years to increase its fabrication and assembly capabilities to meet growing requirements in the excavator market in North America. Production at the nearly 400,000 sq. ft. facility will begin in mid-2007 for delivery of the machines, initially, to the United States and Canada markets.
The Asheville plant will build four of Volvo’s 11 excavator models — the Volvo EC160B, Volvo EC210B, Volvo EC330B and the Volvo EC360B. The manufacturing facility will continue to produce five models of the ten Volvo wheel loader product line. The new production project of excavators and machine cabs will add between 250 and 300 new employees at the company.
The project will not impact other Volvo excavator production operations at manufacturing facilities in Germany, China and Korea.
Since the beginning of Volvo’s development of its excavator line in 1998, the company has established major production and delivery operations in key markets around the world, first in Korea and China, then Germany and now North America. Production of excavators by Volvo CE has more than doubled during the ensuing eight years
Volvo officials said the Asheville production facility is an important plant in the entire worldwide Volvo Group manufacturing complex, which is spread across four continents.
“We are delighted with the decision to bring the excavator and cab manufacture to Asheville,” said David Million, Volvo CE vice president and the plant’s general manager. “We have invested heavily in Lean/Sigma training and have established a benchmark within Volvo Construction Equipment for our company’s 5s+1 manufacturing initiatives and become a leader in Lean/Sigma practices. Our present facilities are more than adequate for the first years of excavator and cab production.”
Volvo said the production of excavators in Asheville will give customers and dealers several advantages in the marketplace, including shorter product delivery lead time and greater customization flexibility for North America customers. Company officials have estimated that delivery time of excavators to dealers and customer can be reduced by as much as 50 percent from present-day schedules.
“We are extremely pleased with the selection of Asheville as the North America home of the Volvo excavator,” said Denny Slagle, president and CEO of Volvo CE North America, the Volvo CE sales, marketing and customer support company for North America. “The excavator market is very important for us and our dealers, and this move will greatly strengthen our position. The excavator business line is our fastest growing product line and the continued development of the Asheville facility will enable us to meet the challenges of the market…and it gives us a showcase of manufacturing excellence for our customers.”
Volvo CE has been building construction equipment at the Asheville location since the early 1980s when Clark Equipment (which began building for the construction industry here in 1977) and Volvo CE merged to form VME. In 1987, Volvo CE acquired the Clark interest and the company was re-named Volvo Construction Equipment in 1995. The production facility’s close proximity to major shipping routes simplified distribution and streamlined the production process. The plant has dedicated work teams, provides consistent quality improvements, labor savings and cost control, and efficient production procedures to meet ISO 9000 and ISO 14001 certification criteria.
In a statement made upon completion of the plans to establish excavator and cab production in Asheville, Eric Nielsen, president and CEO of Volvo CE, Excavators, said “The United States and Canada markets are very important for our company. Our growth in North America over the last several years has shown that the high productivity and fuel efficiency of our excavators is appreciated by our customers. Having production in North America will now allow us to deliver our machines with much shorter lead times to meet the high performance needs of those customers.”
Million credited the support of several state, county and city government agencies with the decision to expand the company’s Asheville construction equipment operation. These agencies, recognizing financial advantages in the expanding of a major business member of the community, have provided tax incentives, funding to local community colleges and reimbursements to Volvo of expenses related to new employee training and other financial considerations. CEG