Manufacturing leaders mark milestones in 2007

PLANT ENGINEERING’s 60th anniversary celebration isn’t the only major commemoration in manufacturing in 2007. Many companies reached important milestones as well. The Raymond Corporation: 85th anniversary The Raymond Corporation rededicated its Muscatine, IA plant in September as the company’s only Class III lift truck manufacturing facility in North America.


PLANT ENGINEERING’s 60th anniversary celebration isn’t the only major commemoration in manufacturing in 2007. Many companies reached important milestones as well.

The Raymond Corporation: 85th anniversary

The Raymond Corporation rededicated its Muscatine, IA plant in September as the company’s only Class III lift truck manufacturing facility in North America. The event also was a celebration of Raymond’s 85th anniversary.

But for director of operations Terry Mitchell, it was a chance to reflect on the successful implementation of the production system that fueled both a renewed sense of manufacturing excellence and positioned the Muscatine facility as a key player in Raymond’s long-term strategy.

In its 85 years, Raymond had reached beyond the iron foundry George G. Raymond Sr. began in Lyon, NY in 1922. The company invented the double-faced pallet still used today and in the process developed the first hydraulic lift truck for pallets. Raymond and Christian Gibson patented the first narrow-aisle lift truck in the 1940s. Raymond has produced pallet and stacker trucks in Muscatine since 1950, delivering almost 250,000 trucks in that time.

When Toyota Materials Handling Group acquired Raymond in 2000, it brought with it the Toyota Production System, which Mitchell was charged with rolling out to employees at Muscatine in 2005. “It’s a mindset,” Mitchell said. “It’s an adjustment for people. You want them to understand what the long-term benefits are. It’s made a positive difference in the facility.”

The switch to TPS allowed Raymond to develop one-piece flow, which has reduced the time to build trucks. “There’s been a dramatic improvement in quality. When you go through the plant, you see metric boards all over the facility. You measure items that are meaningful.”

The hallmark for the program is an emphasis on continuous improvement, a goal that Mitchell said continues even with the success of the TPS deployment. “We’ve still got a lot left to do,” he said. “We know that if we look at other industries, if you don’t change, you’re going to get left behind. People understand that. They saw the investment in the factory. With the Class III designation (by Raymond) they understand that if they continue to do a good job, the facility is going to continue to grow.”

The changes in the Raymond process have filtered through all its North American facilities, said vice-president of manufacturing Michael Field. “The TPS system is flowing through all the plants,” Field said. “We’re finding opportunities in production and design capabilities and engineering and manufacturing.”

“It’s getting to be an easier sell for the direct labor force,” said Mitchell. “What we offer for employees is the Raymond name and the Toyota association. The labor pool can get a little tight, but we’ve been successful in recruiting people and retaining people.” —Bob Vavra

Square D, Lexington: 50th anniversary

A Sept. 27 event marked the 50th anniversary of Square D’s Lexington, KY plant. “Square D has played an important leadership role in the corporate community since forming its partnership with Lexington in 1957,” said Dave Petratis, president and CEO of Schneider Electric’s North American Operating Division.

One of Square D’s largest facilities, the Lexington plant employs more than 500 administrative, engineering, manufacturing and marketing people in a 480,000 square foot plant. Its products include load centers, general and heavy duty safety switches and components shipped to other Square D facilities.

Bosch Rexroth, U.S.: 40th anniversary

Bosch Rexroth Corp. marked its 40th anniversary of U.S. operations with an anniversary party Sept. 21 at its industrial hydraulics facility in Bethlehem, PA. It was the first in a series of events at Rexroth locations nationwide to mark the 40th anniversary of the company’s founding in nearby Easton, PA in 1967.

The company supplies industrial automation products for the machine tool, food and packaging, printing and converting, semiconductor, plastics, automotive and medical industries.

Read about more companies that celebrated 2007 milestones here .

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