Building lift trucks in Berea

NACCO Materials Handling Group Inc. is able to mix different models on the same line instead of making lift trucks in batches due to its one-piece workflow-enabling demand flow technology.


Photo Courtesy: Tim Webb PhotographyNACCO Materials Handling Group Inc.'s (NMHG) Berea, Ky., plant manufactures both Hyster and Yale lift trucks. Although there are similarities, each brand offers different options and features that accommodate different applications.

Because demand flow technology (DFT) enables one-piece workflow, NMHG can mix different models on the same line instead of making lift trucks in batches. E-Schedule defines workflow by dividing incoming orders into requirements for the various components manufactured at the Berea plant. From there, the process of building lift trucks begins.

Initial cutting and burning operations are done in a common fabrication area. Although this is a common area, it is logically grouped according to families of parts.

These components are moved into the welding booths where robots weld the major lift truck components such as masts, overhead guards, and frames. Although robots perform most of the welding, some manual welding tasks are required as well.

Welded components and subassemblies are then painted. After painting, mast components go into the mast assembly area. The remaining painted components are placed on the appropriate assembly line.

Lifting capacities determine lift truck sizes. NMHG categorizes these sizes into three ranges for assembly purposes. Three separate lines handle lift truck assembly according to these ranges.

“When the truck is put online, it triggers various feeder cells and subassemblies,” White said. “Then we start assembling the truck. We prep the frame; put in the power train; and put on the overhead guards, the seat, and the covers. We put each lift truck through various quality checks and test a variety of components. From here we apply the final decals, including the last one that states ‘Made with pride in Berea, Kentucky.’ Each forklift is then prepared for shipping to its final destination.”

Smith is president of BIT Writing and Editing Services and former Plant Engineering editor.

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