International crane leader Manitowoc Cranes in Franklin County, Pa., is leading the way in the industry with its new multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art quality assurance facility, according to company officials.
Manitowoc executives and workers unveiled the company’s newest tool to outpace its competition during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and facility tour on Tuesday.
Believed to be the first facility of its kind in the crane industry, Manitowoc’s Product Verification Center is an 18,000-square-foot testing center that will examine the components that go into its cranes.
Jim MacIntyre, director of global quality systems for Manitowoc, said the company has hired 42 people to staff the testing facility with another seven or eight to be hired in the next year.
He said the company is looking for engineers, specifically hydraulics, electrical and mechanical engineers to work in the new facility. In addition, MacIntyre said electrical technicians, mechanical technicians and hydraulic technicians also are in demand.
While the new facility might only add 50 jobs to the local economy, MacIntyre said the new verification center could mean more jobs over time.
Not only are crane components tested in the new facility, but about 5 acres in front of the center are dedicated to testing of entire cranes. The cranes are tested on one of the center’s six test pads.
With 200 cranes shipped out of the Shady Grove facility each month, putting the testing center in Shady Grove made sense, said Larry Weyers, executive vice president of Manitowoc Cranes Americas.
Eric Etchart, president of Manitowoc’s Crane Group, said the company has plants in Europe and emerging markets such as India, China and Brazil, but the Franklin County plant is one of the busier plants.
To upgrade the existing shell of a building to the latest research and development site for Manitowoc, the company invested $4 million, Weyers said.
“For Manitowoc and its customers, this new center marks the beginning of an exciting phase in modern crane design and testing,” Etchart said. “By meticulously inspecting the quality and endurance of individual components, we will be able to reach new, unprecedented levels of quality.”
The testing facility has a number of technologies to provide a detailed picture of anticipated crane component performance including:
- A hydraulic system test bench that simulates the hydraulic power elements of a crane.
- A structural-durability test system that permits the accelerated testing and simulation of stresses on major structural components.
- A temperature and humidity chamber that exposes zero hour and design failure through stress screening.
- Engine testing that measures load resistance and allows for Tier 4 testing.
- A control room that monitors engine testing, environmental testing, hydraulic testing and more.
- A HALT chamber that replicates and accelerates stress cycles due to temperature and vibration.
- A cycle corrosion chamber that re-creates salt-water exposure and fog conditions.
MacIntyre said the verification center has been operating since the first week in January and already has enhanced crane performance.
“We recently used thermal-imaging technology when analyzing engine performance on one of our industrial cranes. As a result, we adjusted the design to increase fuel economy and improve productivity,” MacIntyre said. “In the future, we will be able to replicate this kind of innovation on a much bigger scale.”
Not only will the testing facility increase the company’s new product cycle by at least 30 percent, MacIntyre said it will help Manitowoc respond to customer needs quicker.
While many think of Manitowoc as a company that hires only blue-collar workers, L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said the new state-of-art testing facility opens up job opportunities for a more skilled work force.
“This is a big deal,” Ross said. “This is part of the operation that I don’t think the public is aware of.”