Richard Hepperla (left), senior vice president and general manager of ABB Low Voltage Drives, greeted ABB employees at the ribbon cutting and official opening celebration at its redesigned New Berlin, Wis., factory.

NEW BERLIN, Wis. - With the completion of new receiving docks, ABB finished a $1.2 million, two-year capital investment in operational changes that the company hopes will facilitate continued double-digit growth.

Richard Hepperla, senior vice president and general manager of ABB Low Voltage Drives, addressed 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-foot production facility.

“The completion of this 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,” said Hepperla.

Starting in 2005, the company utilized an Operational Excellence model to study all existing phases and processes in place in the factory. It 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,” noted Hepperla. “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.”

Sales of ABB low voltage drives to the U.S. and Canadian markets have been rapidly increasing. Unit volumes have doubled since 2004, and the business has grown over 20 percent annually over the last three years.

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,” he said. “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.”

The new receiving area is marked with the addition of signage for quick recognition among arriving vehicles. The docks went into use immediately following the ribbon cutting and official opening ceremony.

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Publication Date:08/27/2007