Tognum starts up new USA engine plant

02 Dec 2010
Assembly line workers from South Carolina being given special training at MTU’s plant in Friedrichshafen

Assembly line workers from South Carolina being given special training at MTU’s plant in Friedrichshafen

The assembly of Tognum’s MTU Series 2000 and 4000 engines earmarked primarily for the US market recently got underway at the company’s new US production facility in Aiken, South Carolina.

The assembly lines are sais to form the first step on the way to developing the Aiken plant into a broad production base in the USA. Commencing in spring 2011, a component manufacturing department is scheduled to go into operation as the next step and further expansion of the plant is possible.

The facility in Aiken County is the Tognum Group’s will, the company says, 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. As a result of the tougher emission regulations and rising energy prices, the group has established the plant to make its MTU produts available in a market sais to be driven by demands for high reliability and low life-cycle costs.

Since October, a workforce of around 80 people has been assembling engines. At the moment, virtually all the parts are supplied from Germany but, when the company begins to machine cylinder heads and large components in Aiken in spring, it will be able to respond more quickly to customers in the USA while also increasing the value added created in the USA. That, says Tognum, is a key prerequisite for obtaining public contracts offered in the USA.

Some 36 engines have now left the test cells and around 50 people from the region have been hired for engine assembly. About 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.

Tognum has set up a special training programme in cooperation with Aiken Technical College. “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 25,000m2 production building, in the Sage Mills industrial park near Graniteville in Aiken County. It has been modified in six months to meet the specific needs of engine production. In addition, Tognum has rented an 11,000m2 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 $45 million in Aiken.

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