The exterior décor of the Volvo/Mack powertrain plant in Hagerstown, MD, harkens back to industrial factory designs of the early sixties. The powertrain plant originally opened its doors in 1961 and only built Mack powertrain components for a long time.
Mack began planning the transition of its heavy-duty drive axle assembly to Hagerstown two years ago. That transition also included the machining of Mack carrier housings at the factory as well.
Most of the 1,800 or so workers at Volvo/Mack's Hagerstown plant took an early lunch break to witness the official inauguration of drive axle production at the facility.
Standing: Pierre Jenny, VP of Hagerstown operations. In the background, seated left to right: Stephen Roy, president of Mack Trucks North America and Stu Russoli, highway/powertrain marketing manager for Mack.
“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,” said Roy in his prepared remarks. “Building Mack engines, transmissions and now axles under one roof also demonstrates our continued commitment to integrated powertrain design.”
Russoli noted that building drive axles and machining carrier housings at the Hagerstown plant also gives the OEM a greater ability to “tweak” its entire powertrain system to potentially generate further fuel savings down the road for customers.
Left to right, Pierre Jenny, Stu Russoli, and Stephen Roy. takes questions from the journalists attending the axle assembly inauguration event. “Hagerstown has played a crucial role in powering Mack’s truck models for more than 50 years,” Jenny noted. “With this new axle manufacturing capability, we are truly the birthplace of Mack’s famous Gold Bulldog, which adorns every Mack model equipped with a complete Mack proprietary powertrain.”
Dan Dawson, a nearly 40 year veteran of the Hagerstown plant workforce, talks about the processes by which Mack's axle carrier housings are now machined at the factory.
A look down the new drive axle assembly line. Drive axle assembly takes up 100,000 sq. ft. within the plant's total 1.5 million sg. ft. of space and 100 new workers were brought on to handle just drive axle production needs.
Automated Guided Vehicles or "AGVs" move axle housings and engines within the plant from assembly point to another. In essence, the AGVs are self-guided robots.
A finished drive axle undergoing a leak test.
A look down at the front half of the Hagerstown plant's engine assembly line. Again, yellow AGVs move the engine block from station to station, where operators then add in specific components, such as pistons, crankshafts, etc.
All of the engines built at Hagerstown - Volvo and Mack branded units alike - undergo 2,500 distinct validation processes. Operators require two hours of training to handle the duties at each specific station on the engine line.
Between the 'front' and 'back' sections of engine assembly lies the parts area. Specific part 'kits' are 'built' for each station on the line in this area; that allows the assembly lines to be more efficient.
Volvo D11 and D13 engines, along with Mack MP 7 and MP 8 engines, are assembled at Hagerstown. However, the Volvo D16 and Mack MP 10 engines - big 16 liter units - are built entirely in Sweden and then shipped to Hagerstown for final testings before being sent on to specific Volvo and Mack truck plants in Dublin, VA, and Macungie, PA, respectively.
The Hagerstown engine assembly area underwent an overhaul back in May; part of a two year, $30 million investment made by Mack Trucks that primarily focused on adding drive axle production and carrier machining to the factory but that also improved its engine assembly process and centralized aftermarket core warehousing operations.
Completed Volvo engines are painted a teal-green color that sets them apart from their Mack brethren.
Completed Mack engines sporting their distinctive dark red coloring.
Volvo and Mack transmissions are also built in Hagerstown; this line assembles the Mack T-300 manual transmission.
Volvo I-Shift and Mack mDrive and mDrive HD automated mechanical transmissions (AMTs) are also assembled in Hagerstown.
The internal gearing for I-Shift and mDrive AMTs being put together.
Mack brought assembly of its mDrive AMT to Hagerstown in 2012. The mDrive HD, a heavy-duty version of the mDrive, started production in Hagerstown in February this year.
Mack said some 70% of new Pinnacle highway tractor orders are now being spec'd with mDrive AMTs.
The tan "boxes" are were completed I-Shift and mDrive AMTs are put through a fully battery of tests across their forward and reverse gears while under load.
Centralization of parts warehousing makes putting together specific "kits" for the various assembly lines at Hagerstown much easier.