CHATHAM, Ont. — International is completing a US$270 million overhaul at its Chatham assembly plant to prepare it for the production of its new flagship aerodynamic tractor – the ProStar.
Limited production of the ProStar is already underway with full-scale production slated to begin in January. International is aiming for a “flawless” launch and the company has gone to great lengths to ensure the Chatham facility and its employees are up to the task.
“We expect a flawless launch because we have developed a truly great product using a great process to ensure we understand and deliver on our customers buying motivations,” says Tom Baughman, vice-president and general manager of Internationals Heavy Vehicle Center. “As the International ProStar represents a new standard for linehaul tractors, the Chatham plant represents the new standard for manufacturing heavy trucks.”
International has reconfigured the assembly line at its Chatham plant to accommodate the ProStar’s modular production process and increase efficiency. It has also added a new chassis spray paint booth, improved dyno testing procedures and developed in-depth training programs for employees.
“We want to get to a flawless launch by job number one,” stresses Jodi Presswood, program manager, Heavy Product Center with International. “We want to get the first product into the customer’s hands and make sure it is a perfect truck and doesn’t have any issues.”
To ensure that’s the case, International will hold back most of the first ProStars it builds (with the exception of evaluation units). The company expects to release the majority if its trucks around March of 2008 so it can immediately address any issues that arise in the field. So far, field testing has been encouraging, Presswood says, with multiple units in customer hands including one in Canada.
For a more detailed article about upgrades at the International plant in Chatham, see the November issue of Truck News.
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