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Grove unveils renovations

December 11, 2000

Grove unveils renovations



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photos: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Product finishing systemSHADY GROVE, Pa. - It used to take four days to run crane parts through the paint booths at Grove's Shady Grove plant. Now it takes four hours.

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The big crane manufacturer is investing nearly $14 million to modernize its production lines, beginning with a $4 million remake of its painting operation that the company unveiled Monday in a plant tour for area media representatives.

The new facility was designed by Pangborn Corp. of Hagerstown, said Thomas E. Wojcik, Pangborn vice president of sales and marketing. The components were built for Pangborn by sub-contractors in the Tri-State area, Wojcik said.

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Tony Cooley and finishing systemPangborn closed down its manufacturing operations this summer at a cost of 100 production jobs. Wojcik said there are still about 100 employees working for Pangborn in engineering, design, sales and administration positions.

Herr Industrial, Inc., of Lancaster, Pa., installed the new system.

According to Dave Bonebrake, senior product engineer for Grove, parts move through a series of connected booths big enough to accommodate the largest crane in the production line. The first stop is the "blaster," which cleans the parts by pelting them with millions of tiny metal pellets. They then continue down the 300-foot line to priming and painting booths. Computers mix the new, high-tech, fast-drying paints that are applied by hand-held sprayers in the booths, Bonebrake said.

There are specially designed carts and fixtures that maneuver large and small parts through the finishing system. The company dropped its familiar "Grove yellow" color in April for a new color scheme that includes a brighter shade of yellow on top and dark gray for the chassis, said John C. Bittner, director of marketing.

Another integral part of Grove's new factory flow system will use state-of-the-art robots to weld parts together on smaller and mid-size cranes. It will cut production time by 60 percent. Riggers were installing the $1 million system Monday.

The new factory flow project, which includes the new painting and robotic welding systems, represents the single largest investment in Grove's 53-year history. It will improve the company's competitive position when it goes into full operation in February, Bittner said.

Another major move for Grove this year was moving its customer training center from Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., to the main plant this fall. The new Grove Training Institute opened in October in a 7,000 square-foot classroom building that has facilities large enough to accept the company's larger cranes for hands-on training.

The center trains customer sales staff as well as equipment operators.

Robert Guiney, director of the training center, said up to 1,000 Grove customers from around the world will be trained every year. Until this year, they were lodged and fed at the 55-acre training center in Blue Ridge Summit. Now, they are being lodged in area motels, Bittner said.

The Blue Ridge Summit facility has been put up for sale, he said.

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