MARYVILLE, MO—The Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing plant here is adding three additional assembly lines starting this fall. Additional capacity is needed due to the high demand of Kawasaki Engines. There will be one new assembly line added on first shift and two on the second shift.
Anita Coulter, vice president of operations, said this will create an additional 100 production positions, along with 10 to support the lines.
“Our forecast is increasing our capacity to where we would have to outsource it somewhere or move it to another Kawasaki location,” Coulter says.
The plant has expanded a dozen times, employs more than 850 people and has become the main manufacturer of general-purpose engines worldwide for its parent company. The addition of the new lines marks the first time Kawasaki will run assembly on any shift other than the first.
“If we can add second shift to assembly lines and continually run them on first and second, our capacity could be endless,” Coulter says.
The additional line will make 12 assembly operations in the plant, with about 60 employees working on each. With COVID-19, the additional line and shifts will allow Kawasaki to continue social distancing efforts for employees’ safety.
“It’s difficult in a manufacturing facility of this size to social distance especially on an assembly line when you’re trying to increase capacity,” Coulter says. “With this option we can still social distance but still increase capacity.”
Coulter said another positive that goes along with the additional lines is giving parents a choice when they’re trying to navigate school and possible closures for their children. Kawasaki wants to create the best options possible to benefit employees, because they’re the ones that make the high-quality product and create the demand.
“If they wanted to continue income coming in, maybe one parent could work during the day and one on second,” Coulter states. “I know some parents have online learning that they might want to be home for.”
Kawasaki will be looking to Northwest Missouri State students to provide possible manpower, and they can have part of their paychecks sent directly to their tuition costs. The new assembly line is in process now and will be started in November. The hope is to start the second shifts in October.