Lasers and material handling streamline chassis production.

Position:Automotive manufacturing

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

NACCO Materials Handling Group Inc. (NMHG), a subsidiary of NACCO Industries, designs and builds internal combustion and electrically powered lift trucks sold globally under the brands Yale and Hyster. In the U.S. market alone, there are more than 130 varieties of lift trucks that lighten the load for those working in manufacturing, warehousing, retail, container handling, or heavy manufacturing.

At NMHG's manufacturing facility in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, 190 miles south of the U.S. border at Laredo, TX, innumerable chassis await export to the United States. The steel infrastructure of every model sold in the United States is prototyped, tested, and put into full production at this facility. Final fabrication occurs at NMHG's manufacturing facilities in Kentucky and North Carolina.

Motorized hand trucks and lift trucks are designed with a range of capacities. Some models can handle loads in excess of 15,000lb.

Alejandro Oliva, general manager of the NMHG Mexico S.A. DE C.V. operation, has managed the facility for six years. During this time, the company has realized a 300 percent increase in growth. The plant now has six laser-cutting systems, 360 employees, and a production area greater than 170,000 sq ft. The first two lasers, a Bystar 3015 and a Bystar 4020, were installed when the facility opened in 1998. Production began in 1999, and additional lasers were installed as product lines evolved and expanded. NMHG now has five Bystar 4020's--four with 3.0kW and one with 4.0kW--and one Bystar 3015, 4.0kW laser. Each Bystar has a Byloader 4020 material-handling system and a shuttle table. They also have two automated material storage systems, one with four shelves and the other with five.

NMHG already had Bystronic laser-cutting systems in its European manufacturing plants, and results were positive, The philosophy in 1998 was to bring this same level of reliability and productivity into the Ramos Arizpe facility.

Oliva says the laser-cutting systems have also helped the facility achieve better quality. We" have noticed an improvement not only in our finished edges, but in our ability to maintain exceptionally tight tolerances," he says. "The quality of our overall product has certainly increased because of these systems."

Adding kanban

Oliva explains that the operation runs three shifts per day, six days per week. The six lasers process 2,500 tons of metal each month--which equates to 115 sheets of steel cut every day...

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