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Navistar Revving Up Engine Production in Huntsville with $125 Million Expansion

The shovels dug deeply into wet but fertile ground as Navistar officially broke ground this week on a 50-acre, $125 million expansion of its manufacturing facilities in the Jetplex Industrial Park in Huntsville.

Ground was broken for the ground-breaking $125 million Navistar expansion. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

The build-out will drive Navistar’s total Huntsville footprint to 80 acres and add 110,000 square feet to its 300,000 square-foot plant. It will also add 145 skilled manufacturing jobs to build next-generation, big-bore powertrains.

“Over the past two decades, the city of Huntsville has been a valuable partner and we are eager to expand our presence here,” said Persio Lisboa, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Navistar. “The local skilled workforce has proudly supported the implementation of our product strategy, and we look forward to incorporating some of the most advanced manufacturing standards into our Navistar Diesel of Alabama facility to continue to bring best-in-class products to the market.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle tied Navistar’s truck engine production here to the rocket engines under development just a few miles away’

“Our skilled manufacturing workforce is ready to take on the production of Navistar’s global powertrain, adding capacity to Huntsville’s reputation as the ‘propulsion capital’ of the world,” he said. “Whether it’s across the country or across the universe, Huntsville gets you there.”

Already using the latest state-of-the-art technology, the company will implement a “manufacturing 4.0 strategy” in the plant.

Next-level software and assembly lines will drive everything from receiving components to delivery to the customers, revving up production while giving them more control over that production.

Navistar’s A26 engine is built in Huntsville. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

Navistar’s principal engine built in Huntsville is the International A26 – a 12.4-liter big-bore engine. The current 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space is dedicated to the A26 engine.

Navistar will use the additional space to produce next-generation big-bore powertrains developed with its global alliance partner Traton.

According to Brandon Tucker, Director of Operations, Navistar has built more than 1 million engines in Huntsville over the past 20 years.

“It’s easy to say one million engines, but if you step back and think about that – it’s a lot of engines,” he said. “It’s a lot of parts. It’s a lot of overtime. It’s a lot of work fixing problems. It’s a lot of hard work.

“Engines are what makes us great, it’s what gives us the competitive advantage … so this is really about a big job, well done.”

Tucker said it is also about business continuation.

“It’s a line in the sand, a jumping off point for big things to come,” he said. “Like any industry, we ride the tide of ebb and flow … but today it is time to focus on the future.”

He said things will move quickly on the new building with center office construction starting in March, site work and grading should begin by spring with core construction expected to start by midsummer. It is slated for completion the first half of 2023.

“Jetplex Industrial Park at Huntsville International Airport is proud to be home to Navistar,” said Rick Tucker, CEO of the Port of Huntsville. “Having been a corporate partner of theirs for over two decades, it means a lot to us that they would desire to continue to grow both the facility and their relationship with us.

“I’m certain that we will all work together to continue to propel Alabama forward.”

New Polaris Upfitting Center Signals Big Push into Commercial and Government Markets

Polaris just made a big statement about its intent to expand its commercial, industrial and government customer-base from Huntsville.

The Polaris Ranger is upfitted for mountain rescue teams. (Polaris photo)

It comes in the form of a new 275,000 square-foot Polaris Commercial and Government Up-fit Center and storage facility in the Jetplex Industrial Park at Huntsville International Airport.

“The Polaris Huntsville Upfit Center provides the capacity, quality controls and lean manufacturing process flow to meet increasing sales demand for our commercial and government customers for many years to come,” said Aaron Luoma, director of operations for Polaris in Huntsville. “Safety is the key priority at the upfit center as we strive to make Polaris a ‘best place to work’ and live up to an unwavering commitment to our employees.”

Upfitting consists of modifying vehicles from their standard retail packages at the plant, to “fit” the specifications of their customers, such as military, public safety and commercial.

The new state-of-the-art facility is equipped with two up-fit lines for the installation and customization of more than 10,000 possible accessories, including cabs, vehicle protection, safety components, and storage accessory vehicles for the Polaris Ranger, Pro XD and RZR commercial vehicles.

The new Polaris Upfit Center has six dedicated work bays, a multistation uplift line, staging, an enhanced post-production quality process, and warehouse space.

Located less than five miles from the 600,000 square-foot Polaris Huntsville manufacturing facility that opened in 2016, the Jetplex site helps facilitate easier shipping across the United States.

There are 28 technicians at the plant who began upfitting vehicles in May.

‘Strong community partner’ LG Electronics expands in Huntsville with solar panel plant

Life’s good in Huntsville – literally and figuratively.

LG Electronics, a long-time player in Huntsville has business announced plans for a $28 million solar panel assembly plant.

The plant will create 160 jobs and workers will assemble LG’s “Neon 2” series 60-cell modules. The high-performance solar panels will generate more than 17 percent more power than most conventional panels. The factory is the first solar panel manufacturing plant in the state.

“LG has a long history as a leading corporate citizen in Alabama. Now, LG is launching our state’s first solar manufacturing plant, which represents a major milestone both for Alabama and for the company,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “We look forward to seeing where this great partnership takes us in the future.”

The panels will be produced on two production lines at a building on the company’s 48-acre campus in Huntsville, where the company has had operations for four decades. The new jobs will increase LG’s employment by 60 percent, to more than 400 workers.

Starting in early 2019, the new plant is expected to produce 500 megawatts of high-performance solar panels annually.

“That’s over a million solar panels a year,” said Soon Kwon, global president of the LG B2B (Business-to-Business) Company.“LG has long called Huntsville home, and the solar panel assembly factory will add a significant new dimension to our Alabama campus.

“Huntsville’s high-quality workforce and LG’s established presence in the Rocket City point to a bright future for LG in Alabama.”

The new solar panel assembly plant in Huntsville underscores the company’s commitment to investing in the U.S. and to driving environmental sustainability, Kwon said.

“LG has been a strong community partner in Huntsville for many decades – a relationship that has deepened through visits to the company’s headquarters in Korea and successful advancements in technological innovation,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “LG chose Huntsville as the place to do business in the U.S. more than 30 years ago, and they’ve chosen Huntsville again as a place to prosper with the new solar module plant.”

The company’s new solar module plant builds on LG’s legacy of leadership in Huntsville. After starting as the company’s first U.S. manufacturing subsidiary in 1981, Huntsville became the home of LG’s service division in 1987, which expanded over the years to support LG’s growing presence in the United States.

“With the expansion of LG in the Huntsville-Madison County region, LG will utilize the latest technology in a high-growth market to produce these solar panels,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong. “The diversity and worldwide recognition of the Madison County economy demonstrates we continue to thrive with our finest hours still ahead.”

As the headquarters location for North American service operations in the Jetplex Industrial Park at Huntsville International Airport, the facility includes the technical call center, service training center, field service operations and parts warehouse.

“The Jetplex continues to grow with this most recent announcement from LG, a global leader in home appliance, consumer electronics and mobile communications,” said Rick Tucker, executive director of the Port of Huntsville. “LG’s sole customer service division for the North American market is onsite already, so to see the company make a further investment in our community by expanding at our facility speaks volumes and is very exciting news for us to be able to share with other business partners who are considering making North Alabama and the Jetplex Industrial Park their home.”