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The plan of battle

PLANTHIRE

PART and parcel of changing to a nuclearpowered warship is becoming more flexible with manufacturing. This is where Mr Robertson has a few plans up his sleeve. Although he is careful to stress this is all hypothesis, you cannot help but think he has put some work into this. It stems from a practical consideration, he says.

'We still have too many facilities [he claims 18 in his division alone]. By way of example, John Deere is a world-class company and globally they have five superpowered sites, which take about 10 minutes to drive past. By contrast, Case New Holland has 35 or 40 different sites. Deere makes a ton of money while CNH doesn't.' When it comes to the 18 factories in his division, he believes many could be worked far more efficiently.

He says: 'For instance, Pegson, in Coalville, Leicestershire, has a 100-year-old business, it is not a showpiece site, it is not configured to be a $200 million quality site for assembling high-quality crush ing equipment. Does that mean we are going to close or downsize it? Absolutely not, but if I could get a solution under one roof like the Compact Equipment plant in Coventry I would do it.' The solution, he says, would be to use the factor ies more smartly, seeing them not just as single product sites.

He goes on: 'If Genie is at capacity in Seattle and needs to build in Europe, Coventry would be a logical site, based on size of components. As customers demand a quicker supply time, then the closer you can be to market the more successful you are going to be. Is it feasible? Absolutely.

'People may say if the businesses are making money why bugger about with them, but if they are making money today and can make more tomorrow, surely that makes sense?' Adopting lean manufacturing techniques will continue to free up space at the factories.

Mr Robertson says: 'Historically Genie would have started its own factory in the UK.

As we f ree up 50 or 100,000 square feet at Coventry, a Genie or a whoever can use it.

'Common components will make it easier to move products around the factor ies, as will common processes. If Atlas make excavators and Schaeff make excavators it would be good to have common hydraulic control systems so that when service engineers get trained, they get trained on one system. If a customer has a 13-tonne excavator he doesn't want to be retrained to use a scrap handler.' Looking further afield, both India and China are key market areas for Terex.

'You have to be where the market is. Most of our factories are in high cost areas such as the UK and the US. Asia continues to grow and we are underrepresented there. We have the resources in China and India to get us quality components at competitive landed costs in Europe. It is going to take a brave man to build a complete excavator in China and ship it whole to the UK. But to take Chinese components, test and build it in Europe and build up distribution would be more feasible.'