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“Our focus was to have a facility that greatly expanded our capacity and flexibility to serve our customers. We completed a ‘center of gravity study’ to determine where to locate and that led us to northern Illinois. We looked at 50 to 60 buildings across the region before narrowing it down to six,” says Chuck Edwards, president of Lenze Americas. “Eventually we selected this 100,000-square-foot building in Glendale Heights, IL, because it provides greater capacity and capability for the present and future.”
Lenze has assembled gearboxes, motors and geared motors at the facility since March 2012. These electro-mechanical components are made for robots, packaging equipment, conveyors and pumps used in several industries—including automotive, consumer goods and intra-logistics, such as automated and intelligent warehousing.
Another reason Lenze selected the Glendale Heights facility is many of their customers are located in Chicagoland. Tom Jensen, program manager of OEM business development and technology evangelist for Lenze Americas, says several of these companies use Lenze components in equipment used at the upstream and downstream stages of production.
“Our customers know the physics of their machines,” says Jensen. “They know that using these components upstream and downstream improves machine efficiency and optimizes performance.”
Recently I toured the Glendale Heights’ facility, being allowed to see its training rooms, parts storage area, assembly floor and paint workstation. Training rooms include classrooms to train both workers and customers, application labs for engineers, and a customer innovation center. Gene Wood, director of operations for the Glendale Heights facility, says Lenze uses the customer innovation center to show customers the full capabilities of Lenze products.
Parts storage encompasses about 20,000 square feet. Edwards says this facility uses many metal parts from Germany, but is increasingly using local suppliers of shafts, flanges, nuts, bolts and screws. Doing so increases flexibility for this build-to-order plant.
The assembly floor encompasses 25,000 square feet and features many work stations, each of which is manned by a single assembler. Currently, the facility has 16 assemblers, although Lenze is actively seeking more, with plans to increase that number to 60 by the end of 2014.
All assemblers at the MA facility were given the opportunity to transfer here, but only three did, says Edwards. To offset the loss of experienced assemblers, the new assemblers have been extensively trained by Lenze Master Assemblers from Germany.
A single assembler builds a complete gearbox at his workstation, while multiple assemblers build a motor. Testing, such as signature analysis, is used to verify proper finishing of a component, building of a sub-assembly or final assembly. A verification printout accompanies each part, sub-assembly, or final assembly and must be signed by all parties involved in the assembly process.
The facility’s automated paint workstation encompasses 5,000 square feet, cost $1.2 million and is powered by Lenze motors and gearboxes. It was designed to effectively handle high-mix, low-volume production by local integrators KMI Systems (Crystal Lake, IL) and Richards Wilcox (Aurora, IL).
“Our automated paint line allows us to ship our product to customers just one hour after painting,” says Wood. “We paint parts any color our customers want—even pink, like we did for Owens Corning.”