Before an enthusiastic standing-room-only crowd, largely composed of hundreds of assembly line workers, Mack Trucks executives on Oct. 13 officially ushered in the new axle production line installed at the OEM's Hagerstown, Md., powertrain assembly plant.
The line, which began running back in July, is the fruit of a $30 million investment in a two-year project that also upgraded the facility’s engine-assembly operations and centralized its aftermarket-core warehousing.
Setting up the new line, which boasts automated production advances, brought the assembly of all heavy-duty drive axles and machining of carrier housings to the Hagerstown plant, which has been assembling Mack powertrain components since 1961. The axle production line covers 100,000 square feet and is currently producing 128 units on each shift.
“Our goal is to keep this new line, and all lines, in Hagerstown running at full speed,” said Stephen Roy, President of Mack Trucks North America, addressing the gathering on the plant floor. “Bringing axle production to Hagerstown allows us to oversee the manufacturing process – from design to assembly – and deliver the high-quality components our customers depend on.
“Building Mack engines, transmissions and, now, axles under one roof also demonstrates our continued commitment to integrated powertrain design,” he continued.
Roy said the advantage of this approach is that components can be engineered “to work seamlessly together” to provide better vehicle performance and fuel efficiency for customers while also cutting production time for faster delivery to buyers.
On top of all that, he said that integrating components is helping the OEM engineer solutions to comply with stricter mandated reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions from trucks.
“Customers are looking for us to bring them something different, better,” Roy added. “And there’s no guesswork involved when all the major components are manufactured by the same company.”
For the OEM, the ultimate expression of component integration is to put together a Mack with a Pedigree Powertrain— meaning one spec’ed with a proprietary engine, transmission and axles.
The truck builder goes so far as to distinguish these Macks by ornamenting their hoods with a special mascot. “Hagerstown has played a crucial role in powering Mack’s truck models for more than 50 years,” noted Pierre Jenny, vice president of powertrain production. “With this new axle manufacturing capability, we are now truly the birthplace of Mack’s famous Gold Bulldog.”
Mack began assembling its mDrive automated manual transmission for highway trucks at Hagerstown in 2012 and is now assembling its new heavy-duty version for vocational trucks, the mDrive HD, at the plant as well.
The Hagerstown plant also assembles the Mack T300 manual transmission; Mack MP7 and MP8 engines; Volvo D11 and D13 powerplants; and the Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission.