ABB completes renovations to New Berlin office | Automation.com

ABB completes renovations to New Berlin office

ABB completes renovations to New Berlin office

NEW BERLIN, WI, August 8, 2007 - “The completion of a new receiving area for the factory marks a milestone in ABB Drives’ $1.2 million, two-year investment in production and operational changes that will fuel our growth into the coming decade,” noted Richard (Rick) Hepperla, senior vice president and general manager of ABB Low Voltage Drives. ABB’s North America drives headquarters and related businesses employee nearly 400 people in the New Berlin Industrial Park.

Hepperla was addressing hundreds of ABB employees gathered for the ribbon cutting and opening of three new receiving doors and large dock area at the back of the 136,000 square-feet production facility.

Starting in 2005, the company utilized an Operational Excellence model to study all existing phases and processes in place in the factory – and then created a new plan to optimize production “This morning, we celebrate the culmination of hundreds of employees working very hard to transform this facility and implement lean business processes within the Operational Excellence discipline,” Hepperla noted. “Doing so has increased, dramatically, the workflow, efficiency and capacity of this facility to produce drives. That stimulates our ability to grow even more rapidly and now ship finished drives within days, even hours, of our customers’ orders.”

Drive Sales on Blistering Pace
Sales of ABB Low Voltage drives to the U.S. and Canadian markets have been on a blistering pace. Unit volumes have doubled since 2004, and the business has grown over 20% annually over the last three years.

Employment at the company has continued to grow during the same period, as lean initiatives such as Kaizen events, and 5s procedures were implemented by associates throughout the factory. “The model here indicates that Operational Excellence identifies and releases tremendous production capacity,” Hepperla said, “and that’s meant adding people to grow with that capacity. As we refine the processes, this trend and potential will continue to expand.”

Marking the 25th Year
The New Berlin business was founded here in early August, exactly 25 years ago as a custom manufacturing operation of highly engineered, electronic-controls products; these were assembled for large local companies like Harnischfeger. ABB then evolved into a volume production-and-assembly plant for standard motor drives. More recently, ABB Drives has evolved to a high-volume assembly and late-finishing business, with the ability to assemble built-to-order motor controllers rapidly, in response to a wide variation of customer demands.

Facilitating Total One-piece Production Flow
According to Hepperla, there are more such changes to come, as the facility works to optimize all its production capacity. The new docks, he noted, make it easy to handle high volumes of parts and components quickly, and this improves material flow significantly. “Components and finish goods from vendors now can move rapidly in a straight line down the supply bay, and feed laterally to the assembly area. Assembly and late-finishing then can operate to any variation of a 365/24/7 production schedule, so that drives can be made to order very rapidly,” he said.

Open for Business!
The new receiving area is marked with the addition of signage for quick recognition among arriving vehicles. And the docks go into use immediately, following the ribbon cutting and official opening today.

ABB, Automation Products, Low Voltage Drives, is the world's largest manufacturer of electric motors and drives. In the USA, an integrated channel of sales representatives, distributors, and system integrators allow ABB, New Berlin, Wisconsin, to supply a complete line of energy-efficient electric drives, motors and engineered drive systems to a wide range of industrial and commercial customers. Products manufactured include AC and DC variable speed drives for electric motors from 1/8th through 135,000 HP, and application-specific drive system solutions to meet diverse customer needs.

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 111,000 people.

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