Peterbilt rang in the New Year with the opening of a new Test Building and Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) for painted parts at the company’s manufacturing plant in Denton, Texas. The new additions completed a $100 million, three-phase expansion project started in 2015 to increase efficiency and quality throughout the plant. The plant improvements streamlined materials management, eliminated outside parts storage and consolidated testing capabilities into a more systematic process.
Materials Handling Efficiency
The first phase of the expansion added 17,500 square feet of receiving area, 7 dock doors on the west side of the plant, and 18 additional dock doors on the east side of the facility. The total number of dock doors increased from 30 to 55, resulting in a more direct flow of materials from the receiving area to the assembly line and a significant reduction of parts stored outside the plant. Most components now have a designated dock door from which they are transported directly to where they are needed.
The new dock doors have increased efficiency and safety throughout the plant by reducing the number of times that parts must be moved. Additionally, supplier deliveries have been rerouted, eliminating congestion and traffic at the plant.
Painted Parts Automated Storage and Retrieval
Peterbilt completed its new ASRS in December 2016. The painted parts storage facility is located in the plant’s high bay area above cab and sleeper trim. It has capacity to hold 400 painted hoods, sleepers and/or cabs: the equivalent of one and a half days’ worth of painted components. Operators use barcodes to log the painted parts in the ASRS, and then the parts are automatically stored using a system of elevators and transloaders. The system later retrieves the parts as needed and delivers them to the point of use on the hood, sleeper or cab trim line, exactly when needed.
The ASRS consolidates storage of all painted truck parts into a central location, which has increased efficiency by reducing the number of times a part is transported, and avoids product damage that can be caused by outside storage and transportation.
New Test Building
The final expansion phase concluded in January with the opening of a 102,000-square-foot test building. Denton’s prior test processes occupied 170,000 square feet of space―and required trucks to be transported inside and outside the plant several times to reach different test points. The new facility optimizes truck testing and validation by relocating test equipment into a lean and efficient, sequential process flow.
The test building is equipped with a new dynamometer that supports all multi-axle truck configurations and simultaneously completes brake testing. The cycle time of the new dynamometer is a 50 percent reduction from the previous process. The building also has two new paint booths which has doubled Denton’s painting capacity.
With the new building and improved process flow, Denton has reduced the total test time per truck by 30 percent, eliminated 1,400 truck movements per day and eliminated all outdoor test work.
A Successful Conclusion
The Denton expansion project increased production square footage of the plant from 480,000 to 600,000 square feet, and efficiencies achieved as a result of all three phases will yield significant annual savings.
“There were zero safety incidents and no production disruptions at the plant over the course of the two-year expansion,” said Jim Fykes, Peterbilt’s Product and Process Improvement Manager. “This outcome illustrates the diligence, dedication and flexibility demonstrated by Denton plant employees to get the job done. It’s a result we can all be proud of.”
Commitment to Continuous Improvement
The opening of Peterbilt’s new production and testing facility freed up 50,000 square feet in the plant to expand manufacturing capacity for the company’s growing 2.1-meter cab product.
“The Denton plant has experienced tremendous growth in the past two years,” said Leon Handt, Assistant General Manager of Operations, Peterbilt. “The recent expansions will drive efficiency and quality improvements as our business continues to expand and sets the stage to meet increasing demand from our customers.”
“There is a large team of people involved in delivering these expansion projects―on time and on budget―and the benefits we are seeing are greater than anticipated. I want to thank all employees for their efforts and dedication, and for ensuring Peterbilt’s continued growth and success,” said Ron Augustyn, Plant Manager, Peterbilt-Denton.