Tognum starts up new engine plant in the USA
Posted on December 01, 2010
The new US production facility set up by the specialist for propulsion and power solutions Tognum is now up and running.
- Series production has begun in Aiken/South Carolina
- More local value added creates the prerequisite for public contracts
- Cooperation with training center
Friedrichshafen/Aiken, 1 December 2010. The new US production facility set up by the specialist for propulsion and power solutions Tognum is now up and running. In Aiken in the US State of South Carolina, assembly of Tognum’s mtu Series 2000 and 4000 engines earmarked primarily for the US market recently got underway. The official opening of the facility takes place today, December 1. The assembly lines are the first step on the way to developing the Aiken plant into a broad production base in the USA. Commencing in spring 2011, a manufacturing department for components is scheduled to go into operation as the next step. Further expansion of the plant is possible.
The facility in Aiken County is the Tognum Group’s cornerstone production plant that will enable it to gain more market share in the USA and in the US dollar region. “Our success in the USA shows there is a large market here for our products,“ says Volker Heuer, CEO of Tognum AG. As a result of the tougher emission regulations and rising energy prices, drive and energy systems manufactured by mtu and mtu Onsite Energy with their leading technologies are in demand primarily by customers who appreciate high reliability and low life-cycle costs. Heuer: “We used the low real estate prices during the economic crisis to prepare ourselves for further growth in the USA.”
“Engine assembly here will get us off to a good start at this location,” says Dr. Ulrich Dohle, Member of the Tognum Executive Board for Technology & Operations. Since October, a workforce of around 80 people has been assembling engines for industrial applications and power generation. At the moment, virtually all the parts are supplied from Germany. “When we begin to machine cylinder heads and large components in Aiken in spring, however, we will not only be able to respond more flexibly for our customers in the USA and supply them with units more quickly, but will also increase the value added created in the USA. That is a key prerequisite for obtaining public contracts offered in the USA,” adds Dohle. The premises in Aiken offer Tognum the flexibility to meet customers’ specific requirements. There are currently eight CNC machine tools being installed that will in future be used to machine components ready for assembly.
Since the beginning of series production in October, over three dozen engines have left the test cells incorporating state-of-the-art technology. Around 50 people from the region have been hired for engine assembly. Some 30 employees from production-related areas have moved from the former Detroit production site to South Carolina. By summer 2011, around 50 additional jobs will be created to manufacture the engine components. In four years time, as many as 250 people are expected to be employed here.
Because the production of high-tech engines is also complex, Tognum has set up a special training program in cooperation with Aiken Technical College (ATC). “There are specialists in this region with excellent knowledge of metalworking or engine technology. We give them further training to qualify them for the specific requirements of our engine production and to use our manufacturing facilities,” says Jörg Klisch, plant manager in Aiken. Selected assembly specialists with the required skills were trained in Friedrichshafen (Germany) to become instructors for the workforce in the USA.
The Tognum Group had acquired the approximately 40 hectare site in March 2010, which includes a 25,000 square meter production building, in the Sage Mills industrial park near Graniteville in Aiken County. It has been modified in just six months to meet the specific needs of engine production. In addition, Tognum has rented a 11,000 square meter (120,000 square foot) warehouse close to the plant, which will supply the parts required for production. By the time component manufacture starts in 2011, the Tognum Group will have invested some US $ 45 million in Aiken. The US State of South Carolina, Aiken County and state authorities are supporting the development of the new location with subsidies and tax relief and have made an additional site available. The Aiken plant is part of the company’s international production network, which currently consists of twelve locations.