Over 40 cranes and hoists were installed in GILLIG LLC’s new Livermore, California facility as the bus manufacturer recently completed its relocation from Hayward to the Oaks Business Park. The newly constructed, custom-designed, 600,000 sq. ft. site continues the company’s 128-year tradition of manufacturing in the San Francisco Bay area.
The hoists, manufactured by R&M Materials Handling Inc., were supplied by their master distributor, CraneTech Inc., which worked closely with GILLIG’s design team to provide comprehensive material handling coverage of an approximately 500,000 square foot manufacturing facility where completed heavy-duty transit vehicles roll off the production line having started as small parts.
From initial design to final assembly, each GILLIG bus is built to customers’ specifications; models are 29-feet, 35-feet, or 40-feet long. The vehicles incorporate a broad range of drive systems, including clean diesel, compressed natural gas, diesel-electric hybrid, and zero-emission battery-electric versions. It’s a manufacturing process that relies heavily on crane and material handling systems that range in capacity up to 10 tons.
“Relocating and starting a greenfield project was a new experience for the team,” explained Robert Murillo, Manufacturing Engineering Manager at GILLIG, “but one that we approached with determination. We started with a blank canvas and had an opportunity to work with architects, engineers, crane professionals, and other specialists in their fields to create a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility serviced by overhead lifting technologies, selected for the material handling needs of each particular production process. We had an existing relationship [with CraneTech] but we looked at a myriad of options and conducted site visits and tours to ensure we chose the best crane partner.”
Murillo explained that due to production demands, the existing Hayward site had to remain fully operational during the construction process. GILLIG couldn’t endure any downtime once it was time to start installing equipment. Thus, it wasn’t an option to relocate material handling or other equipment. Further, the new manufacturing facility is more than double the size of the approx. 200,000 sq. ft. shop floor in Hayward, which has since ceased operation.
The new facility boasts 15 separate crane bays, ranging from 20 feet to 100 feet wide and 100 feet to 1,150 feet long, in addition to areas serviced by a number of jib cranes. CraneTech supplied R&M’s Spacemaster® SX wire rope hoists (ranging from 1 – 10 ton capacities) and their LK electric chain hoists (ranging from ¼ – 2 ton capacities). The hoists were chosen for reliability, flexibility of options, efficiency of operation, and availability of parts, should future maintenance requirements arise.
“Initially, we were working from a spreadsheet,” Jim Stewart, CEO at CraneTech Inc., said. “As the project got closer, we attended a number of meetings to extend the scope to include workstation cranes and fall arrest systems. The sheer volume of equipment we were required to provide, coupled with orchestration of simultaneous installation made the Livermore project hugely challenging but extremely rewarding.”
CraneTech essentially supplied everything from the load hook upwards, while GILLIG provided lifting attachments and tooling required for rigging or manipulation of loads below-the-hook. Murillo explained that the material handling equipment is used for the duration of the daily production cycle, which sees buses move through the building as they take shape from chassis components and welded parts to finished vehicles, complete with tires and engines.
“The cranes have performed well in line with our high expectations since production started at the new site,” Murillo said. “Our production facility has to demonstrate great versatility as we manufacture only to order and our customers can require anything from a single bus to a brand new fleet; this is a high quality manufacturing environment that produces renowned, custom products.”
“Our new facility and the quality of buses built here represent a world-class operation that underscores our commitment to both our customers and our employees,” said Derek Maunus, president of GILLIG. “We are investing in the GILLIG team, the Bay area, and creating strong, stable U.S. manufacturing jobs.”
A Solution for Kimura Foundry America
Six R&M Materials Handling Inc. overhead crane systems were installed in just three weeks at the newly constructed Kimura Foundry America Inc. factory in Shelbyville, Indiana. The facility is the company’s first venture outside its native Japan, where it provides rapid prototype (RP) castings and small lot production services. Service Crane Co., which provides industrial cranes, workstation cranes and hoist systems, installed the R&M crane components in Kimura’s new 45,000 square foot facility.
“Before a new part, component, or product hits the market, extensive research, development, and testing must take place,” Cody White, Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator at the Shelbyville site, said. “Here at Kimura, we are responsible for manufacturing those items prior to mass production. We employ the latest information technology to increase productivity. As a result, we can provide more value-added RP castings and small lot production services to our customers.”
With Kimura’s processes, they shorten industry-standard lead times by months, delivering final products to customers within five to seven days.
With the goal of becoming the ‘world’s number one clean foundry’, the factory was a pioneer in factory operation based on ‘5S’: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. White, who oversaw installation of the cranes and conducted operator training, said Kimura’s automated systems are recognized for an ability to reduce performance variation and increase safe operation, as well as to improve productivity. Its clean factory operation effectively reduces workplace accidents and risks.
Due to Kimura’s extremely short lead times, they rely on crane components and parts that are readily available, easily serviced, and provide dependability, all while keeping a safe working environment.
That’s when Service Crane turned to R&M for a solution.
Mark Drake, Territory Sales at Service Crane Co., explained that originally only five top-running cranes were required, two three-ton and three two-ton, but the end user requested an additional three-ton unit when the others were already installed. The larger ones all have a bridge span of 63.1 feet.
“We continue to embrace the varied material handling challenges of Kimura,” Drake Added, “which has already involved supplying below-the-hook equipment to connect our lifting machinery to the facility’s varied loads.”