The 2000 and 4000 series engines are also manufactured at Rolls-Royce’ North American plant in Aiken County, South Carolina. Lucy Fritz, Jim Darragh, Roger Ball and Tim Szeliga have been there from the beginning. They even followed the engines because they were with the company when the engines were still being made in Detroit. When production moved to Graniteville in 2011, they followed. Here they tell their story.
Lucy Fritz, a senior order management coordinator who has been with the company for more than 40 years. She still remembers the beginning of the cooperation between the then MTU Friedrichshafen and Detroit Diesel. The two companies had been developing the engines together since the early 1990s. "These engines have become good because they were developed by and many departments and locations together", says Fritz. “Just as with myself, I feel these engines have gotten better over time!
Jim Darragh, a senior production supervisor for all production activities related to the Series 2000 and Series 4000 engines, has also witnessed a great deal of change and advancement during his 22 years with the company. Darragh says that having been a “gear head” in his younger days and then having the opportunity to work professionally with these very large and powerful engines has been an amazing experience.
Roger Ball, a specialist for strategic manufacturing who has been with the company for 23 years, supports the assembly, testing and processing for the Series 2000 and Series 4000 engines. Ball joined the company not long after Detroit Diesel and the former MTU Friedrichshafen came together and was able to witness the sharing of technology as the transition occurred.
“The joy of seeing all these individual components come together into these big engines is always an incredible sight,” says Ball. “It’s very rewarding to help ensure that everyone has what they need to produce the level of quality that we’re known for.
Tim Szeliga, a senior manufacturing engineer, began with the company as a summer intern in May of 2000. Not long after he began, he joined the manufacturing engineering group for the Series 4000 engines and has been part of the department ever since.
“I feel as if I’ve grown up along with the Series 4000,” says Szeliga. “As a kid growing up in Detroit, I was always a car guy … but getting involved with these engines was a whole new world. I love watching all the parts come together into a functioning system used globally for so many applications.”
"The size of the engines impresses"
In 2010, Rolls-Royce built a new manufacturing plant in Aiken and many Detroit employees followed their employer, including Lucy Fritz, Jim Darragh, Roger Ball and Tim Szeliga.
“When I made the transfer from the Detroit area to South Carolina, my husband and I had only been married a short time,” said Fritz. “This is a man who had lived in the same city his entire life and here I was asking him to pull up stakes and move almost 800 miles away from friends and family. But the move has been a good one, meeting new people, exploring new places. When my husband has seen the engines during our Family Days events, he has been very impressed with the size of the engines we build here, as well as the cleanliness of the plant.”
“In early 2010 I traveled down to South Carolina with a group of people to interview more than 200 potential employees for what was to become the Aiken facility,” remembers Darragh. “Later that year I moved my family down and was heavily involved in setting up the facility, where we now carry on the great tradition of building the Series 2000 and Series 4000 engines.”
Special order: Engines for the New York Fire Department after 11 September
Darragh also recalls a very poignant moment during his time working with the engines.
“I remember being in the plant in Michigan on the Series 2000 assembly line on September 11, 2001 when the Twin Towers fell in New York and remembering the terrible feeling for all those lost souls. About six years later, we had the opportunity to be involved in the building of eight 12V 4000 M70 marine engines for the New York Fire Department to be installed in two new pumper boats. One of the boats was named “Three Forty Three” in honor of the 343 members of the New York fire department that died on 9/11.”
“These were to be the largest, most capable pumper boats in the world. There are four mtu Series 4000 engines in each boat,” says Darragh. “The engines we built for them were painted fire engine red, with chrome rocker covers. The engines were beautiful to look at. The New York Fire Department sent their company flag to us, so we gathered up all the employees that worked on the engines, stacked us all around the engines and took a great picture.”
“I think besides the longevity of these engines, the thing that makes them most special is the people,” Fritz added. “The mindset of the people who build them and the pride that goes into the build. It’s not ‘just a job’, the employees truly care about the quality of the engines. We are all just one person but what each individual person does can have such a big impact. I think that’s always worth remembering.”