Kobelco U.S. Facility Continues to Grow & Ramp Up Production
Talk about showing commitment to the US marketplace! Less than four years ago, Japan’s Kobelco Construction Machinery Co. had no manufacturing presence on American soil. Today, the construction equipment manufacturer has a US headquarters and parts distribution warehouse in Katy, Texas, plus a hydraulic excavator production plant that opened in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in June of 2016.
The first excavator to crawl off the assembly line in Spartanburg was a conspicuous guest of honor at the Grand Opening ceremonies. Since that day, the facility has continued to increase production of SK210LC-10, SK260LC-10 Long Reach, SK300LC-10, and SK350LC-10 excavators. Kobelco is currently on pace to produce 1,800 units per year.
This past fall, the company planned to add production of the SK500-LC-10, and early this year it will add the SJ260LC-10 High & Wide excavator. The models being produced today are all part of the company’s Generation 10 series. Overall, Kobelco designs and manufactures crawler excavators in classes from 3,000 lb. to 245,000 lb., with models for zero tail swing, compact, standard, long-reach, mass excavation, and demolition applications.
State of the art manufacturing
In keeping with the company’s corporate commitment to helping customers boost productivity through innovation, the new manufacturing facility was patterned after their Itsukaichi facility in Hiroshima, Japan. The company says these plants are the “most modern, energetic, and high quality excavator factories in the world.”
The facility includes fabrication, painting, assembly, and warehousing. In its current configuration, it brings about 130 new jobs to Spartanburg and nearby Greenville. As a member of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Kobelco actively supports the organization’s “I Make America” campaign. This program promotes creation of skilled jobs in heavy equipment manufacturing.
Spartanburg was among almost 50 communities in eight states that competed to become Kobelco’s choice for the new excavator plant. The company says they were particularly impressed by the large tract of land available and its proximity to major domestic ports. The site is about 85 acres. The manufacturing facility incorporates a 156,000 square food production plant and a separate 17,000 square foot building devoted to administrative offices. There are also areas to park equipment and to demonstrate excavators in action.
To complete the project – which took just one year – the company says it had to move 367,000 cubic feet of earth. That included 14,680 truckloads. But there is still plenty of additional space left over, enabling Kobelco to expand.
As North American sales continue to increase, the company says the Spartanburg plant will see increased production of this machine and, eventually, most of the excavators in Kobelco’s lineup.