Automotive: Roundup - JSMC survives frustrating year

By Lance Mihm

February 23, 2014

LIMA — It was a frustrating year for the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, plant manager Keith Deters said.

“Our business in 2013 was impacted by both sequestration and foreign military sales,” said Deters, whose plant is capable of refurbishing and building Abrams tanks and other military vehicles.

Deters said many foreign sales opportunities that had been anticipated in 2013 did not materialize. He said the plant has managed to diversify its work while waiting on the economy to recover.

“Fortunately we have diversified our work at JSMC over the past 10 years,” Deters said. “It has allowed us to maintain critical skill sets as we work through a period where most of our customers, both foreign and in the U.S., have seen budget reductions.”

Deters said the plant currently is performing Abrams tank work for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the U.S. Army. Other operations include building an Israeli personnel carrier and structures for the U.S. Army's Stryker vehicle.

General Dynamics Corporation had $31.2 billion in revenue in 2013, and the General Dynamics Combats Systems business had $6.1 billion in revenue.

Crown Equipment

Crown Equipment in New Bremen celebrated 2013 by opening facilities in Minster and Troy.

"Crown is one of the world’s largest material-handling companies," said Randy Niekamp, vice president of human resources. "Our award-winning line of forklifts maintains a reputation for advanced product design, engineering and technology and integrated manufacturing processes."

Offering a broad range of forklifts, as well as automation and fleet management technologies, Crown provides customers with forward thinking and innovative products designed to improve performance and lower operating costs. Headquartered in New Bremen, the company has regional headquarters in Australia, China, Germany and Singapore as part of a global service and distribution network.

Crown employs about 10,100 globally and 3,350 in the area. The company had $2.2 billion in revenue in 2012.

Crown continued to develop its Crown Insite product, which offers an information technology lift truck fleet management solution to its customers. Crown Insite is now offered through a "cloud" solution, so customers do not need to make a large technology infrastructure investment.

The company is in the process of completing the renovation and expansion of the Opera House in downtown New Bremen for additional office space. The Opera House was damaged by a fire in February 2012.

Ford Lima Engine Plant

LIMA — The Ford Lima Engine Plant began operations in 1957 on the current site with 1,250,000 square feet of floor space. In 1958, the first full year of production, 161,980 V8 engines for the Edsel, Mercury and Lincoln models were assembled by a workforce of 1,039 people.

Now it will add another legendary vehicle to its engine roster. At the North American International Auto Show, company officials announced the 2015 model will have four engine choices, including an all-new 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine, built at the Lima Ford Engine Plant.

Operations at the Lima plant have now grown to be one of Ford's largest manufacturing facilities, encompassing over 2.4 million square feet. The Lima Engine Plant is one of the largest employers in Allen County.

The Lima plant employs 627 production workers, 184 skilled laborers, 17 apprentices and 123 salary employees. The plant produces a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a 3.7-liter V6 engine that are used in Edge, Taurus, Explorer, Fusion and Flex vehicles, as well as several Lincoln automobiles.

The Lima Engine Plant donates more than $113,000 annually to local charity drives, and employees volunteer many hours to local service organizations.

Ford recently announced that 2013 was one of its best years ever concerning full-year pre-tax operating profits. It was the fourth consecutive year of pre-tax profit of $8 billion or higher.

​The Lima Engine Plant achieved ISO 14001 recertification again in 2013. It has received the honor every time the plant has been audited.

The ISO 14001 Standard is a family of standards related to environmental management systems that exist to help organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment, comply with applicable laws and continually improve.

Honda East Liberty Auto Plant

EAST LIBERTY — The Honda East Liberty Auto Plant reached a milestone in 2013 by producing its one millionth CRV sports utility vehicle Dec. 2.

“I am very proud of our ELP associates for reaching this milestone,” said plant manager Noburu Takahashi.

Takahashi said the CRV earned a host of favorable ratings in 2013, including a five-star rating for overall vehicle score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Other awards were earned from organizations such as, Kelley Blue Book's and U.S. News & World Report.

“Over the years, the East Liberty plant has been challenged to introduce new technologies,” Takahashi said. “This pioneering mindset has made it possible to be recognized with these honors.”

Takahashi said the plant also continued to make a strong presence in the Initial Quality Study released by J.D. Power & Associates in 2013. For the second straight year, the Honda CRV ranked first in its designation for the second straight year.

The East Liberty Plant was designated with the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star certification for superior energy efficiency. The award is given to manufacturers that rate in the top 25 percent. It was the sixth consecutive year that the East Liberty plant earned the honor.

Major areas where conservation was used included the installation of energy-efficient equipment, implementing new technologies in auto-painting systems and lighting efficiency improvements.

“Improving the energy efficiency of Honda manufacturing operations continues to be a big focus of the company's efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our operations,” said Karen Heyob, who leads Honda's environmental sustainability initiative at its North American Facilities. “We set challenging targets for improving energy efficiency at our facilities.”