The Kenworth plant in Chillicothe, Ohio, is getting a $17 million automated storage facility to bring cab parts inside, out of the weather, and add efficiency to assembly operations, executives said on Wednesday.
Contractors are adding a second story that will house the facility, along with a computerized material handling system that will store parts as they’re delivered and retrieve them for trimming and positioning on the assembly line, where they’ll be matched to chassis.
The facility is scheduled for operation in November, said Judy McTeague, the plant’s manager.
The plant now is on two shifts: the first shift produces the maximum possible, 80 trucks per day, and the second assembled 45 a day, following a “feathering” of production late last year to react to a slight softening in new-truck orders, she said.
The Chillicothe plant makes Kenworth’s two latest models, the T680 highway tractor and the T880 vocational truck and tractor, along with “legacy” T660 and T800 models. The T680, introduced four years ago, now accounts for half of all KW sales, said Kurt Swihart, marketing director. The T880, announced in 2013, accolunts for 30% of all sales.
The remainder of sales are of legacy trucks with some customers still prefer, but the percentage is dwindling as buyers discover the room and efficiency advantages of the more recent models, he said.
The new parts facility and handling system will boost efficiency through rapid storage of painted parts, and deliver them faster when they’re needed on the assembly line, McTeague said.The 25,000-square-foot addition, being built on the top of the current plant, will have a climate-controlled environment to provide quality improvements for painted parts.
The first Kenworth truck rolled off the Chillicothe assembly line in 1974. Employees at the state-of-the-art Kenworth factory produced the plant’s milestone 500,000th truck in February. Throughout the plant’s 42-year history, Kenworth-Chillicothe employees have focused on quality, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and environmental stewardship, executives said.
The Chillicothe plant in southern Ohio has earned the prestigious ISO 14001:2004 certification for effective environmental management systems established to help build Class 8 trucks in an environmentally sustainable manner.
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