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News Release

Manitowoc inaugurates its Center of Excellence in Charlieu

10/7/2011 Charlieu, France

Manitowoc welcomed nearly 400 guests to its factory in Charlieu, France this September to showcase expansions and upgrades incorporated into the facility over the past 12 months.

The inauguration highlighted Manitowoc’s strategy of leveraging the Charlieu facility as a Center of Excellence, with a focus on four main activities:

• The manufacture of hoist drums for Potain tower cranes and Grove mobile cranes
• The manufacture of large self-erecting telescoping cranes from the Igo T range
• The manufacture of large welded elements for Grove mobile cranes
• The refurbishment of cranes under Manitowoc Crane Care’s EnCORE program and the manufacture of spare parts.

As part of the creation of this new Center of Excellence, Manitowoc made significant investments in a new hoist production line.

Bruno Durand, director of operations for Manitowoc at Charlieu, said the facility was a natural choice for hoist production.

“We’ve always had good machining capabilities at Charlieu. When we looked at consolidating and expanding hoist production, it made sense to focus those operations here,” he said. “For hoist production, we need to roll thick steel very precisely, and it’s important to have an organized and efficient production line. Charlieu was the best choice, and we’ve invested time and money in developing this key capability. It’s important because a high-quality hoist is crucial to the productivity benefits that Manitowoc cranes offer.”

Production for hoists, as well as the Igo T cranes and Grove mobile crane welded elements, is based around lean manufacturing. To design the new production lines, Manitowoc used its global expertise in lean manufacturing and also worked with the Ecole Catholique d’Arts et Métiers, one of France’s leading engineering schools.

The result is a production line that, viewed from above, resembles a U-shape stretching around three sides of the production hall. There are two production lines following this U-shape, one for hoists and the other for Igo T cranes. Inside the U-shape are a further two additional lines, one for machining components for Grove mobile cranes and the other for EnCORE refurbishments.

Changes at Charlieu began in 2008, but the majority of upgrade work took place in 2010. A key part of the work was balancing the movement of hoist manufacture from La Clayette to Charlieu, while also moving production of the Igo 32, Igo 36, Igo 42 and Igo 50 cranes to Niella Tanaro in Italy. Manitowoc’s factory in Niella Tanaro already builds the other cranes in the Igo line.

With the change of operations and the move to lean manufacturing, adjustments were required outside the factory too, notably with suppliers. Lean manufacturing requires components to be delivered directly to the production line, in smaller batches and on a more regular basis. Manitowoc partnered with its suppliers to ensure that on the new production lines there are no delays.

With the changes now complete, work moves faster and more efficiently. Lead times for cranes and components are reduced, while quality has improved with the move to lean manufacturing and other quality-focused initiatives.

Durand said the changes had immediate impact, not only for Manitowoc staff.

“The distance that components travel for the production of hoists is dramatically reduced, parts are delivered faster and there is more standardization,” he said. “We are building cranes quicker, and we’re seeing quality improve with simpler build processes. Those who have previously seen our Charlieu factory are amazed at the changes. But most importantly, it is allowing us to build even better cranes, which is great news for our customers.”

About The Manitowoc Company, Inc.
The Manitowoc Company, Inc. (“Manitowoc”) was founded in 1902 and has over a 117-year tradition of providing high-quality products and support services that are tailored to customers’ needs. Its 2019 net sales were approximately $1.83 billion. Manitowoc is one of the world's leading providers of engineered lifting solutions. Through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Manitowoc designs, manufactures, markets and supports comprehensive product lines of mobile telescopic cranes, tower cranes, lattice-boom crawler cranes, boom trucks and industrial cranes under the Grove, Potain, Manitowoc, National Crane, Shuttlelift and Manitowoc Crane Care brand names.
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