Now in its 28th year, the annual program recognizes North American plants that are on the leading edge of efforts to increase competitiveness and customer satisfaction. Accuride’s Rockford facility earned the award following a rigorous assessment process and will be recognized during ceremonies at the 2018 IndustryWeek Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo.
Rockford Operations – part of the Accuride Wheel End Solutions business unit – manufactures and assembles Gunite and KIC-brand brake drums, hubs, rotors, slack adjusters and other wheel end components for the North American commercial vehicle industry. The longest continuously-operating manufacturing plant in Rockford, the facility’s origins go back to the 1850s.
Accuride says principal drivers of the plant’s manufacturing resurgence include:
- Building a culture of continuous improvement through the engagement of the associates and support of the leaders of Accuride and UAW Local 718, which represents hourly workers at the plant.
- Investing over $70 million in capital for upgrades to machining, foundry, assembly and facilities and grounds.
- Adopting common Lean manufacturing and Quality management processes that enabled the plant’s achievement of consistent world-class operating metrics for quality, on-time delivery, warranty and lead-times.
- Implementing the Plex ERP system that supports data-driven operation and rapid decision-making.
“Rockford was a classic story of a rust-belt factory that had been starved for capital and left for dead by previous owners,” says Rick Dauch, Accuride’s president and CEO. “Together with our UAW-represented workforce, we decided to restore the business to competitiveness and profitability. It was hard work, requiring all stakeholders – suppliers, local government, management, union leadership and the workforce – to work together to save a business.
“The plant’s ‘phoenix’-like turnaround demonstrates that American manufacturers can be competitive and profitable while paying a good wage. In my 25 years as a manufacturing and business leader, I have never been prouder of a team.”