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LG: A New Washing Machine Every 10 Seconds

  • August 26, 2017

Imagine a manufacturing plant so efficient it can produce a completely assembled new washing machine ever 10 seconds. LG broke ground on just such a plant in 2017, to open in 2019. When fully operational, the plant in Tennessee will employ 600 workers.

LG is a South Korean company. The $250 million faciiity is being built in Clarksville. 

The 1 million-square-foot (92,900-square-meter) facility in Clarksville is projected to cost $250 million and create 600 new jobs. Located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Nashville, the site was selected after a six-year national search.

The plant is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2019, and it is designed to be able to produce a fully assembled washing machine every 10 seconds. The company said the highly automated facility will also be able to shift production of models within four minutes.

Company and local officials were joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.

Ross said LG's decision to build the plant in Clarksville will bring "family-sustaining jobs to Tennessee."

"This is exactly the kind of job creation and investment that the administration is seeking for American workers," Ross said.

Corker praised President Donald Trump and his Cabinet for fostering investment in the U.S.

"The Trump administration has done an outstanding job, I think, of releasing the animal spirits in our nation and focusing on job creation," Corker said.

(AP Photo)

LG is also building a new $300 million North American headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and expects to at least double employment there from about 500 to more than 1,000 by 2019. The company also announced plans this week for two Michigan facilities: A vehicle components factory in Hazel Park and an expanded research and development center in Troy.

South Korean tiremaker Hankook also has a new plant in Clarksville. Hankook announced last year it was moving its North American headquarters from New Jersey to Nashville.

The new LG plant will be near a new Google data center in Clarksville on the former site of the $1.2 billion Hemlock Semiconductor plant that was shuttered in 2013. The company disassembled the plant and donated 833 acres of land back to the city and county.



Harrington Hoists: The Importance of Behind-the-Scenes Product Manufacturing

  • February 9, 2014

You bought the tickets several months ago, and the night is finally here. You are at the theatre to see an off-Broadway production that has received rave reviews, or at an arena to hear one of your all-time favorite bands. There is an atmosphere of expectation as you check your watch and see that it is time for the show to start. Suddenly, the curtain opens and the production is under way.

Few, if any, of us would give a second thought to how the curtain was opened. But opening stage curtains reliably is a primary concern for a company called Harrington Hoists, which has its U.S. headquarters in Manheim, Pennsylvania; and two other factories in Corona, California, and Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. The latter facility, affectionately called their E-Town plant, is making products previously produced in Japan, where the parent company, Kito Corporation, is based. And stage curtains for concert halls, arenas, and theatres only scratch the surface of the hoist products that their workforce makes.

Beyond entertainment-center applications, Harrington produces manual, electric, air-chain and wire-rope hoists, as well as complete crane systems, most of which are used in advanced industrial settings. Capacity ranges from one-eighth of a ton to 20 tons or more. As one satisfied customer, Stu Fenton of Ritz-Craft Homes, put it, “We have chosen Harrington because of the precision we require at the placement of any component.” He said their products allow for “smooth movement of our mammoth floor, wall and roof systems by giving us better weight distribution of our loads and the headroom we need for flexibility.” Put another way, Harrington’s manufactured goods make other manufacturers more productive and capable.  

Back to the entertainment industry, Harrington has developed a new product called the TNER theatrical hoist that gives set designers and stage crews more flexibility for a variety of venues. Harrington says the hoist, which is housed in a durable aluminum exterior, incorporates the world’s most reliable brake, and the simple design means there is no coil to fail or disc to wear out. After a performance, it can easily be packed and sent to the next venue on the tour.

The company traces its history to the year 1854, when a machinist in Vermont named Edwin Harrington founded his machine tool business. He moved the operations to the Philadelphia area a few years later, and began focusing exclusively on the hoist market in 1867, just two years after the conclusion of the Civil War. Ownership changed hands several times in the decades that followed, with Kito purchasing it in 1990. The California facility opened in 1993, and is now three times its original size.

Whether a hoist is being used in an advanced-manufacturing factory or in a 20,000-seat arena, it is a great example of a “behind-the-scenes” product that makes up an important segment of manufacturing in North America.

ElectroLux: Manufacturer Sees the U.S. as a Great Place for R&D and Production

  • January 9, 2014

Electrolux is a Swedish-based manufacturer that offers appliances under its own brand name, as well as Kelvinator, Eureka, and Fridgidaire. Its global workforce is an impressive 58,000 people. While the U.S. is not the fastest-growing market for appliances – that distinction goes to developing countries that are on a fast growth curve – Electrolux nonetheless sees the U.S. as one of its key markets for R&D and production.

As of 2014, the company employed 1,500 associates in North Carolina, about half of them at its North American headquarters facility in Charlotte. The others work at a dishwasher-manufacturing plant in Kinston and a distribution center near Asheville. That corporate footprint is about to expand in a positive way.

The company plans to build a new 675,000 square foot facility that will accommodate R&D, marketing, and other corporate functions. R&D activities will occupy two floors in the planned six-story building. Electrolux has committed to creating more than 800 jobs by 2017, with an average compensation of $100,000 plus benefits. That constitutes a doubling of its corporate presence, and a great example of the types of careers available to candidates with the right skills in modern manufacturing. The company will also invest $85 million in plant and equipment.

In achieving those targets, Electrolux’s investments and job creation will trigger $27 million in performance-based Job-Development Investment Grants, paid to the company  over a period of 12 years. The grants will be funded from a portion of the state income tax generated by the new positions.

Electrolux is also expanding in Memphis, Tennessee, where it currently employs 550 workers. That will rise to 1,200 employees by 2019, as the factory, which produced its first kitchen ovens in October 2013, kicks into full gear. The plant is designed to produce as many as 600,000 kitchen ranges and ovens in a single year. It features advanced robotics and lasers that make for some of the most efficient appliance manufacturing in the world.

Coincidentally, on the same December 2013 day that the North Carolina expansion was announced, the unemployment rate in North Carolina reached a five-year low. As this story shows, manufacturing and R&D continue to be the source of excellent jobs.

STIHL Incorporated: Continuous Improvement in Manufacturing

  • December 20, 2013

After touring modern manufacturing facilities, visitors are often surprised not only by how efficient and clean the plants are, but also by the laser-like commitment that so many manufacturers make to continual improvement of their operations and products.

One such Great Manufacturing Story comes from Virginia Beach, where nearly 1,700 employees work at the U.S. headquarters of STIHL Inc., a manufacturer of hand-held outdoor power equipment, such as chain saws, blowers and brush cutters. The employees work in a variety of manufacturing, assembly, quality-control, engineering, sales, logistics, and management capacities.

This company was founded in Switzerland in 1896. Today, it employs 12,000 people worldwide, and sells its products through 40,000 dealers, many of whom are also authorized service providers for their products.

STIHL began manufacturing in the U.S. in 1974, and by 1986, it had already produced its one millionth 1120-series chain saw in Virginia. The Virginia Beach plant is comprised of 2.1 million square feet of manufacturing, office, and warehouse space.

Continual improvement is part of the company’s culture, by design. In 2013, the Virginia Beach plant received a coveted honor from the Association for Manufacturing Excellence. The assessment team from AME observed, “The Virginia Beach facility has made strides toward the establishment of a continuous improvement system, focusing on the implementation of advanced technology, integration of automation, data systems, work instructions, kanban and steps toward the establishment of flow.”

The evaluators called special attention to outstanding practices in terms of total-cost thinking for new product and process development projects, and the use of inventory flywheels to balance high-service levels and low-cost production linearity goals.

Another characteristic about STIHL Inc. is that it remains family owned. Its leaders say the company values its independence, emphasizing that they can focus on investing for the future without being distracted by shorter-term considerations. 

Their commitment to continual improvement is not something new. The Virginia Beach facility is also a past winner of the Virginia Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award and the inaugural Virginia Shingo Prize by the Virginia Manufacturers Association. More broadly, the company has established a world-wide employee feedback and suggestion system that allows employees to share in any cost savings or new revenue that their suggestion might generate. 

As the U.S. strives to be the best place in the world to do business and make products, companies like STIHL that focus on continuous improvement will be a big part of America’s manufacturing story.

Volvo Construction Equipment: Ready to Boost U.S. Infrastructure

  • October 7, 2013

Talk to business associations and chambers of commerce in every state, and nearly all of them will tell you that enhancing our networks of roads, highways and bridges is a critically important priority.

One manufacturer that is preparing to help the U.S. modernize its transportation infrastructure is Volvo Construction Equipment. The company manufactures soil and asphalt compactors, motor graders, pavers and screeds, and milling machines at its Shippensburg, Pennsylvania plant, south and east of Harrisburg.

Volvo purchased the plant from Ingersoll-Rand in 2007. Manufacturing in the U.S. allows the foreign-owned company to reduce its exposure to exchange rate fluctuation, and to establish closer relationships with its customers and other stakeholders. The company hosted U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta for a plant tour on Sept. 6, 2013, and has a video on its web site from a recent customer tour. 

The plant was expanded in 2010, and is undergoing another $100 million expansion that will allow it to produce wheel loaders, articulated haulers, and excavators by 2014. More than 700 employees work in Shippensburg, in roles that include operations, sales and marketing, support, welding, painting, machining and assembly.

Policymakers like Rep. Barletta are committed to bringing increased predictability to our country’s highway investments. Volvo Construction Equipment is making the investments now to be ready to help meet the infrastructure needs of our dynamic U.S. economy.

For more Great Manufacturing Stories, click on Feature Stories.

Hyundai: The 5 Keys to Automotive Success in America

  • October 1, 2013


As the U.S. emerged from the deep recession, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing helped pace the auto industry’s comeback in North America. How Hyundai has achieved and contributed so much is a Great Manufacturing Story. 

The firm’s first key to success was becoming an American automaker, rather than simply shipping vehicles here. Hyundai invested $1.7 billion in their highly advanced assembly plant that employs 2,500 team members in Montgomery, Alabama. The company also has R&D facilities in California and Michigan, and a headquarters and test track in California, as well as its distribution centers. By demonstrating its commitment to the U.S. market, consumers knew Hyundai was committed for the long haul. Today, more than half of the cars Hyundai sells in this country are made here.

The second factor has been quality and reliability. Hyundai has received honors for product quality and backs up its cars with an industry-leading warranty.

Product design is a third key to the company’s success in North America. Hyundai understands the importance of combining quality with styling. The Sonata and the Elantra, which was named North American Car of the Year, were designed in California.

The fourth key to Hyundai’s U.S. success is their vehicles’ value and fuel economy. Thanks to their inspired workforce and state-of-the-art production facilities, Hyundai is able to deliver quality, fuel-efficient vehicles at very competitive prices. The company is devoted to developing and rewarding its workforce.

Last yet not least, the fifth key to Hyundai’s growth and success is its ability to stay flexible to anticipate and respond to market opportunities. This capability traces back not only to its workforce, but also to decisions made early on to allow them to produce different vehicles on the same assembly line, and to continue enhancing their plants, as with the $173 million expansion of an engine shop in Montgomery.

The results speak for themselves. Sales have risen substantially. Product reviews are strong. Additionally, restyled models of Sonata, Santa Fe and Tucson just arrived this autumn. Hyundai operations support – directly and indirectly – 94,000 jobs in the U.S. It all adds up to a success story that is benefiting consumers while having a positive economic impact on the U.S. economy.

Canon: One Thousand New Jobs in Virginia

  • September 21, 2011

If lawmakers from the nation’s capital want to see advanced manufacturing in action, they need not travel far. The Hampton Roads region of Virginia boasts a number of leaders in modern manufacturing, one of which is Canon USA.

In 2009, Canon completed a 700,000 square foot facility in Newport News that incorporates high-speed, automated technology for production and refurbishment of laser printer cartridges. With assistance from the state of Virginia, Canon’s investment in the project exceeded $640 million, creating about 1,000 new jobs.

Less than 40 miles to the north in Gloucester, Canon operates its newly expanded Industrial Resource Technology division. A decade ago, this facility manufactured three products. Today, it offers an array of contract manufacturing solutions, including high-tolerance injection mold tools, metal and plastic parts, and reverse manufacturing for clients in a range of industries. In total, the U.S. affiliate of the Japanese-based Canon employs more than 2,200 people in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, making it a Great Manufacturing Story.