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Pa. plant shows off new 'clean room'

February 27, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

Waynesboro, Pa. - The future of York Refrigeration, which has a major manufacturing facility in Waynesboro in the former Frick Co. plant, is looking brighter in some markets and still struggling in others, the company's top officer said Tuesday.

Ole Andersen of Denmark, CEO of York Refrigeration Group of York International, visited the Waynesboro plant to officiate at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new "clean room" assembly facility. The manufacturing innovation first was installed in a York Refrigeration plant in Denmark, he said.

Andersen was in the United States for a stockholders meeting at York International's corporate headquarters in York, Pa. He said he has visited the Waynesboro plant several times.

York International bought out the Frick Co. in 1988, said John Ansbro, director of marketing for York Refrigeration in Waynesboro.

Andersen said revenue last year for the refrigeration division was $900 million. He said he expects the amount to be lower this year because of the economic slump in the North American market.

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Andersen said he believes the slump has hit bottom and the economy will start to recover.

York Refrigeration, a world leader in the manufacture of refrigeration compressors, sells to the food and beverage, petrochemical and natural gas industries.

Andersen said business in the food and beverage market has picked up.

Frick makes giant compressors for the petrochemical industry, but that market is still slow.

"We think it will improve by the second half of next year," he said.

He said business was "tremendous" last year for York compressors in the gas industry. He said that market, which has seen a decline, also will increase as the economy improves.

York's refrigeration division has more than 20 plants worldwide with a work force of about 5,800 employees, Andersen said.

"We are the largest supplier of industrial compressors in the world," he said.

Andersen said the company has invested $16 million in the Waynesboro plant.

"It's becoming a world-class plant but it's not there yet," he said.

About 550 workers are employed in the Waynesboro plant at 100 Cumberland Valley Ave., Ansbro said. About 150 workers were laid off in June. A few have been called back, he said.

An existing 8,000-square-foot assembly room was converted into the clean room, Ansbro said.

Employees must wear clean clothes when they enter the work area where the company's large compressors are assembled. Workers step on a sticky floor mat that cleans the bottom of their shoes before they enter. The room is pressurized to keep out debris, is air-conditioned and maintains a constant temperature of 72 degrees to prevent expansion and contraction of the metal parts, Ansbro said.

The plant makes most of the parts for its large compressors, but even those supplied by outside vendors must meet strict company requirements.

All of the parts are pre-cleaned before they are brought in for assembly, Ansbro said.

Such care is taken because of the extremely close tolerances between the parts of the compressors, he said.

Andersen cut the ribbon, officially opening the new assembly room.

The official name for the Waynesboro plant is York Refrigeration/Frick, Ansbro said.

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