- Over the last three years, Manitowoc has made considerable investments in its Potain tower crane factories in Charlieu and Moulins in France, Baltar in Portugal, and Niella Tanaro in Italy.
- The investments include new buildings and extended production areas, new production lines with automated welding, custom tooling, and redesigned processes.
- Implemented under The Manitowoc Way business operating system, Manitowoc’s lean initiatives have led to greater safety, quality, and productivity, as well as lower environmental impact.
Industry-leading cranes require industry-leading manufacturing facilities, which is why Manitowoc is continuously investing in its production sites. Over the last three years, Manitowoc has invested significantly in its European Potain tower crane factories, which have a combined surface area of 400,000 m2. These investments have been implemented according to The Manitowoc Way, its business system based on lean principles for driving operational excellence and increasing customer trust and confidence in every aspect of the business, and have led to significant improvements in safety, quality and productivity, while reducing its environmental impact.
Charlieu, France — new 2.45 m pivot production line
At the Potain factory in Charlieu, Manitowoc has invested in a new production line for 2.45 m top-slewing crane pivots to help improve quality and reduce lead time. The new production line includes volume setting tools for improved ergonomics and safety, as well as an innovative automated submerged welding process. This allows not only for a large deposit of solder but also optimum penetration, improving quality and saving time.
Moulins, France — new tube cutting line and bespoke K mast tooling
At Moulins, Manitowoc has replaced the old tube cutting line installed 30 years ago with a new 35 m long and 11 m wide automated line. The new tube cutting line has been designed specifically to Potain specifications and will be commissioned this month. Once operational, it will bring greater precision, quality, and safety. The Moulins factory has also received new custom tooling to enable the mass production of 3.33 m monobloc and 5 m K masts. By increasing production capacity, the new tooling will offer customers shorter lead times for the supply of these masts.
Baltar, Portugal — extended production areas, new machining centre and welding tools
Between 2017 and 2020, Manitowoc undertook a project to transform the Baltar factory to relocate production from the historic Fanzeres site. The project involved the extension of the welding and assembly halls, as well as the indoor and outdoor storage areas and has resulted in increased capacity, efficiency, and quality.
Manitowoc also installed a new high-performance machining centre to produce large mechanically welded elements (such as cab masts and pivots) at the very end of the manufacturing process. This has enabled Potain to improve the quality of these elements, compliance with tolerances and ultimately the assembly of tower cranes on site.
Further investments in welding tools have likewise improved quality, safety, and productivity. The new manipulators, for example, guarantee optimal welding conditions for better organized and more ergonomic workstations.
Niella Tanaro — new transport axle building, new test area, redesigned logistics flow and paint line improvements
At Niella Tanaro, Manitowoc has constructed a brand-new building dedicated to the manufacture of crane transport axles. At the same time, the factory invested in testing finished products and streamlined the logistics flow in shipping cranes.
Until now, the test area and delivery of cranes were carried out in confined spaces. As a result of these investments, employee safety, productivity and factory delivery times have all been improved. Furthermore, the Niella Tanaro team has made great strides with the paint line. By implementing a series of measures to increase operational efficiency, downtime in the painting area has decreased, overall paint consumption has been reduced by 10% and non-toxic solvents have lowered environmental impact.
“Most of the improvements realized are related to our Voice of Customer process. We pride ourselves on the quality, reliability and advanced technology of our cranes but staying at the forefront of the industry is not easy. Every day, we must challenge ourselves to do better, not only in the design of our cranes but also in their manufacture. We need to employ the most up-to-date equipment, the most efficient processes, and the most highly skilled people in our factories. In this respect, The Manitowoc Way has been our guiding star,” said Christophe Simoncelli, SVP for Tower Cranes Europe at Manitowoc.