Peter Dorsman, senior vice president of global operations for NCR Corp., says his company’s new assembly plant in Columbus, GA, is a "next-in-class" facility.

Peter Dorsman, senior vice president of global operations for NCR Corp., doesn’t consider his company’s new assembly plant in Columbus, GA, to be a best-in-class facility. To him, that implies other plants are comparable to the Columbus facility, which assembles NCR’s high-end line of automated teller machines. Frankly, Dorsman believes the plant has no equals.

“It’s a ‘next-in-class’ facility,” he boasts. “We took the best of what we were doing at all our plants around the world, plus the best thinking of [state and local] organizations.”

Once NCR decided it needed a new plant, Georgia was the logical place to locate it. After all, the company was moving its corporate headquarters to Duluth, GA, in June 2009, and it planned to open a new global service parts headquarters in Peachtree City, GA, in November. Moreover, the company could tap the resources of Georgia’s university system, and it would be near the seaport of Savannah, GA.

“The plant’s proximity to our product development team and our customer service organization has enabled us to condense the innovation process,” says Dorsman.

Rather than build from scratch, NCR renovated an old battery factory that had stood vacant for two years. After acquiring the building in May, the company opened its new 350,000-square-foot plant just five months later. “It was a daunting schedule,” admits Dorsman. “If you saw the before and after pictures, you wouldn’t believe it’s the same facility.”

Some 1,800 tons of concrete and cinder blocks were removed from the old plant. A floor-level conveyor was installed, and epoxy floors were put down.

From the beginning, NCR wanted the facility to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. That decision affected everything from how the company disposed of demolition materials to what equipment it installed inside. Old concrete from the building’s interior was recycled to make exterior walkways. Energy-efficient lighting and computers were put in. NCR worked extensively with Georgia Power, the local utility, to reduce the plant’s overall power consumption.

The layout of the line is fairly traditional, and except for the conveyor, there’s not much automation. Still, Dorsman is proud of how his team has “leaned out” the flow of materials and assemblies. “I love the design of our line,” he says. “If anything slows down the line, everybody sees it, whether they’re in assembly, testing or packaging. It creates real accountability.”

Approximately 870 jobs will be created at the plant over the next three years. With the help of the state and local government, NCR has already hired and trained nearly 120 employees through Georgia’s Quick Start program-a customized workforce-training program for businesses across the state.

“Quick Start was instrumental in getting the facility up and running so quickly,” says Dorsman. “It posted the jobs, screened the applicants, tested candidates and ultimately trained our workforce.”

Quick Start even sent a delegation to NCR’s assembly plant in Budapest, Hungary, to learn firsthand the process of assembling ATMs and to shoot video of the line for training purposes.

“Our decision to bring our North American ATM manufacturing in-house was driven by our belief that as self-service ATM technology becomes more innovative and strategic to financial institutions, the ability to control manufacturing in key markets [will be] a competitive advantage,” says Dorsman. “By in-sourcing the production of our SelfServ ATMs, we will decrease time-to-market, improve our internal collaboration, and lower our current operating costs.”

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