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Kenworth expanding Chillicothe plant by nearly 25 percent with $140M paint facility addition

This is an artist’s rendering of Kenworth’s Chillicothe, Ohio, plant after completion of a new paint facility. ( Photo: Kenworth )

Kenworth will increase the size its Chillicothe, Ohio, manufacturing plant by nearly 25 percent once a new paint facility comes online in early 2021, the company said at a groundbreaking for the new building on April 24, 2019. The $140-million, 120,000-square-foot building will sit adjacent to Kenworth’s 502,000-square-foot Class 8 truck manufacturing plant. The new paint facility is expected to add about 100 jobs to the facility.

“The critical role Chillicothe plays in Kenworth’s market share is highlighted by the continued investments, like our $30 million investment in the automated cab assembly this summer [and the paint facility],” said Mike Dozier, PACCAR (NASDAQ: PCAR) vice president and Kenworth general manager.

“The new facility will use the latest advancements and controls,” Rod Spencer, plant manager, said. The technology advancements will lead to a 50 percent increase in paint capacity. State-of-the-art robotic paint application systems and the latest in emissions control systems will also be included in the new building, which will replace an existing paint facility inside the current plant.

The ceremony featured Harrie Schippers, PACCAR president and chief financial officer; Mike Dozier, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president; and Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), as well as Judy McTigue, Kenworth assistant general manager of operations; and Rod Spencer, Kenworth Chillicothe plant manager. Federal, state, county and local officials from Ohio also participated in the groundbreaking.

Dozier said that the expansion will provide Kenworth additional capacity at the plant overall. Currently, the paint division runs three shifts, which limits total capacity at the plant. The new facility will allow Kenworth to shift to two paint shifts, opening up room to add a third should demand be needed.

“By adding more capacity to the paint facility, you [potentially] add capacity to the rest of the facility,” Schippers said.

Spencer said Chillicothe creates between 1,300 and 1,500 different colors each year.

 Kenworth, PACCAR and local officials took part in a groundbreaking for Kenworth’s new paint facility on the campus of its Chillicothe, Ohio, manufacturing plant on April 24, 2019. From left are Karen Logan, Kenworth Truck Company controller; Lex Tisdale, Kenworth Chillicothe director of engineering manufacturing; Jack Schmitt, Kenworth Chillicothe assistant plant manager; Judy McTigue, Kenworth assistant general manager for operations; Jay Timmons, president and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers; Harrie Schippers, PACCAR president and chief financial officer; Mike Dozier, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president; and Rod Spencer, Kenworth Chillicothe plant manager. ( Photo: Brian Straight/Freightwaves )
Kenworth, PACCAR and local officials took part in a groundbreaking for Kenworth’s new paint facility on the campus of its Chillicothe, Ohio, manufacturing plant on April 24, 2019. From left are Karen Logan, Kenworth Truck Company controller; Lex Tisdale, Kenworth Chillicothe director of engineering manufacturing; Jack Schmitt, Kenworth Chillicothe assistant plant manager; Judy McTigue, Kenworth assistant general manager for operations; Jay Timmons, president and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers; Harrie Schippers, PACCAR president and chief financial officer; Mike Dozier, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president; and Rod Spencer, Kenworth Chillicothe plant manager. ( Photo: Brian Straight/Freightwaves )

“We’ve painted almost 20,000 different colors [overall],” he said. “We have a color matching system so we can match almost any color a customer requests.”

Before the paint facility is complete, another investment will come online at the facility – a $33 million robotic cab assembly cell. Expected to be completed this summer, the cell will occupy 40,000 square feet on the existing production floor and will support production of T680, T880 and W990 models.

Earlier this year, the Kenworth Chillicothe assembly plant received a 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Award from the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council. The award recognized the Chillicothe team’s development of innovative material handling systems that protect paint quality throughout the assembly process.

“I want to congratulate Kenworth and PACCAR on this groundbreaking,” Timmons said. “You are part of the manufacturing [future] of America. This [facility] represents PACCAR’s commitment to manufacturing in the United States.”

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and fleetowner.com. Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.

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