In mid-September, Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America Inc. (MCFA) introduced its new electric pantograph reach truck, manufactured under the Jungheinrich brand, to 350 of its dealers at its annual dealer meeting in Houston. With that debut, the company's 10-month-old manufacturing facility, which is dedicated to electric forklifts, is now running at full production.
The new reach truck, the ETR 340-335 D series, is the second Jungheinrich forklift specifically designed and manufactured in North America. MCFA is also manufacturing and distributing a Jungheinrich electric end-rider pallet truck designed for the North American market. (Previously, the Jungheinrich brand forklifts MCFA distributed were manufactured in Europe and shipped to the United States.)
The new ETR series was designed at the Jungheinrich Design Center in Houston and is now being manufactured only steps away at MCFA's recently expanded manufacturing facility. The 60,000-square-foot expansion, completed in November 2013, is dedicated to the company's electric products and sits next door to an older manufacturing plant that is now dedicated to internal combustion (IC) forklifts.
The expansion reflects MCFA's recognition that the overall electric forklift market is growing while the IC market is shrinking. This growth is being driven by environmental concerns and electric's improved performance versus IC, as well as by electric-powered trucks' longstanding energy and cost-efficiency benefits, said Kent Eudy, MCFA's executive vice president of sales and marketing, at a press conference.
Confident that the electric market will continue to grow, MCFA expects to expand the electric forklift production facility by an additional 60,000 square feet in the future.
THINK GLOBALLY, MANUFACTURE LOCALLY
The plant expansion also demonstrates MCFA's strategic shift toward regional manufacturing. The company originally was founded as a joint venture between U.S.-based Caterpillar and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, based in Japan. In 2009, MCFA signed an agreement with Germany's Jungheinrich to manufacture and distribute its lift trucks in North America.
Although MCFA was created by knitting together alliances and expertise that stretch across three continents, the lift truck manufacturer and distributor has been working steadily to bring more manufacturing and product design into the United States. The Jungheinrich trucks join the majority of the company's Mitsubishi and Cat brand forklift trucks, which were already being produced in Houston. The number of lift trucks the company imports from abroad will shrink even further as MCFA shifts production of Mitsubishi's 16-ton IC lift truck from Japan to Houston.
Additionally, MCFA is bringing more component manufacturing in-house, or at least in country. The company now manufactures 75 percent of the content in its forklifts in North America, up from 50 percent.
By moving toward a regional manufacturing market, MCFA has been able to keep prices down and reduce lead times by half, said Perry Ardito, general manager of the warehouse products group.