Tooling & Production

October 2008 Edition

news & analysis

GM Maryland tranny plant gets solar power system

By Peter Alpern, Associate Editor

General Motors will install more than 8,700 solar panels on the roof of its White Marsh, MD, transmission plant.

General Motors announced plans recently to install more than 8,700 solar panels this spring on the roof of its White Marsh, MD, transmission plant through a partnership with SunEdison, a local solar power firm.

The 300,000-square-foot solar project will be one of the biggest on the East Coast, generating enough electricity to power up to 150 households and reducing the plant’s utility bill.

The installation will be capable of generating about 1.4 million kilowatt-hours of energy annually, enough to displace about 20 percent of the plant’s power currently bought from the local utility.

The proposal is part of an effort to lessen the automaker’s impact on the environment and cut costs amid hemorrhaging U.S. sales.

In recent months, GM has said it would slash $15 billion in spending through 2009 by laying off workers, cutting certain retiree health benefits, and for the first time in 86 years, suspending its dividend.

SunEdison LLC, which is negotiating a state incentive package, will bear the entire cost of the project and, during a 20-year contract period, sell the power it generates to GM.

"Maryland is quickly becoming a national leader in sustainable energy alternatives," said Gov. Martin O’Malley. "This is a state that’s good for this sort of business."

The Maryland installation marks the fourth major deployment of solar systems on GM facilities. The company is well on its way toward the largest solar power installation in the world with its Zaragoza, Spain, factory, with some 85,000 panels covering nearly 2 million sqft of rooftop. Smaller systems are already operational on a pair of parts warehouses in Southern California’s Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga.

The GM Powertrain Baltimore transmission plant builds the Allison A1000 six-speed automatic gearboxes. These are featured in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pick-ups. The plant built 189,000 units of this gearbox in 2007. It also builds the Hybrid 2 mode transmission currently used in the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid.

Last year, the General Motors Powertrain Baltimore Transmission Plant became the first in the company to reach "landfill-free status," the point at which it stopped sending any production waste to local landfills. All waste generated is recycled or reused.

"GM has the ability to make a significant positive impact," said GM Powertrain’s vice president of global manufacturing John R. Buttermore. "This project will help GM reduce costs while serving as a clean, renewable energy source."

The step is an important one, said O’Malley, who drives a GM Tahoe Hybrid. The energy is generated and used in Maryland, he said. It is "not being pumped out of oil fields in Iraq."

General Motors

Missouri takes top spot for manufacturing

Despite recent cutbacks in numerous plants, Missouri has been ranked the No. 1 state for manufacturing in the country.

Compiled by Ball State University, the 2008 National Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card ranked all 50 states in 19 categories, including property taxes, sales taxes, crime and percentage of the population with college degrees. The report card placed Missouri at the top for low long-term health-care costs, health-care premiums and property taxes.

Missouri was one of six states to earn an "A" in the Ball State study. Utah, Florida, Alabama, and North Dakota rounded out the five best states in the country for manufacturing and logistics.

"Missouri’s ranking came as a bit of a surprise to me," said Michael Hicks, Ball State associate professor of economics, who also is director of the university’s Bureau of Business Research. "Other business rankings did not have Missouri near the top, and the state does not currently enjoy a high proportion of its economy in manufacturing. But after carefully selecting variables that accounted for the factors associated with manufacturing job growth, Missouri came out on top."

Missouri was one of six states to earn an "A" in the Ball State study.

Utah, Florida, Alabama and North Dakota rounded out the five best states in the country for manufacturing and logistics. New York, Kentucky, New Jersey, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine, and West Virginia all received failing grades, with the latter ranking dead last, according to the report card.

The report found that as the national economy slowed in the final quarter of 2007, industrial production increased by 2.8 percent.

Additionally, the report found that manufacturing employment in the United States peaked in the late 1970s with more than 19.5 million manufacturing workers. As of 2008, that number has declined to about 13.8 million.

Last year was a record year for American manufacturers with inflation-adjusted values higher than in any previous year, according to the 2008 State of the Industry Report issued by Ball State. Nationally, growth in the production of goods continues to be robust, and even as the U.S. economy began slowing in the final quarter of 2007, industrial production rose at an annual rate of 2.8 percent.

Bureau of Business Research


In motion

Wasino Corp. USAis now Amada Wasino America Inc., becoming part of the Amada Group, which offers a line of machines that simplify the turning and grinding processes … Methods Machine Tools Inc. will unveil its new technology center Oct. 14-16 in Tempe, Az. The event coincides with Methods’ 25th year anniversary of operating in America.

BorgWarnerreported record second quarter results driven by strong demand for its fuel-efficient powertrain technologies in Europe and Asia, which offset declines in North America. The company maintained its 2008 full-year sales growth expectation of 8-10 percent … Industrial manufacturer Eaton Corp. has acquired the engine valves business of Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd. Kirloskar employs 500 people in India and had 2007 sales of about $5 million.

New vehicle programs will get a $1.8 billion shot in the arm from Chrysler LLC. Among the improvements are a significant expansion of its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit … General Motors will invest $445 million to build an engine plant and upgrade an existing assembly plant in Thailand. The plant will build four-cylinder diesel engines for use by Chevrolet in Thailand and other global markets and brands.

Flowserve, a provider of fluid motion and control products and services, reported a record second quarter performance. Earnings per share were up 92 percent … TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. reported an improved second quarter over last year, with sales of $4.4 billion, an 18.4 percent increase.

Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer reached a record high backlog on June 30 of $20.7 billion, including sales to the executive aviation market, which were about $6 billion … Federal-Mogul Corp. will build a new facility in Chennai, India, to manufacture friction components for OEM and aftermarket segments. The plant is expected to start producing components by September 2009.

Kitamura Machineryis expanding its manufacturing facility in Takaoka City, Japan, and plans to have it open in time for the company’s 75th anniversary in November ... Exact Metrology has opened a new Training and Technology Center in Cincinnati, OH, to support its measurement services and metrology equipment sales.

New at the top

German auto parts maker Continental AG has appointed Karl-Thomas Neumann as CEO, replacing Manfred Wennemer. CFO Alan Hippe has been named to the newly created position of deputy CEO … Polaris Industries has named Scott W. Wine CEO, succeeding Thomas C. Tiller. Polaris manufactures snowmobiles and ATVs, as well as Victory motorcycles.


Timothy D. Leuliette has been named president and CEO of Dura Automotive Systems. He succeeds Larry Denton, who elected to leave the company after successfully leading the automotive parts maker through a 20-month reorganization and emergence from Chapter 11 … Lenox, power tool manufacturer of East Longmeadow, MA, has named David Pirkle president of industrial products and services. He will report to Bill Burke, group president of tools and hardware, Newell Rubbermaid.

LNS North Americahas named Frank Sraj Jr. its CEO of the North American Business Unit. LNS provides products and services such as bar feeders and unloading equipment. to manufacturers … Parker Hannifin Corp. has promoted Dana A. Dennis to senior vice president, finance; and Jon P. Marten to vice president and corporate controller, following their appointment to the company’s board of directors. Lee C. Banks, Robert P. Barker, and Thomas L. Williams have each been named executive vice president and operating officer.

Larry Resnickhas been appointed CEO of Taurus Aerospace Group, a provider of integrated specialist solutions to aircraft OEMs and fleet customers … John T. Nesser III has been named executive vice president and COO of McDermott International Inc. He will be responsible for the oversight of all McDermott’s Offshore Oil & Gas Construction segment’s global operations.

Murray R. McClean has been elected chairman of the board of Commercial Metals Co. in addition to his responsibilities as president and CEO. Commercial Metals manufactures and recycles steel and metal products … Smart Energy Solutions has appointed Edward Braniff as acting CEO. He has been CFO since 2005. Smart Energy owns the Battery Brain line of vehicle accessory products.

New websites

Wordingham Technologies, provider of machined parts for optics, photonics, and precision instrumentation, has launched a new portal on its website for customer access to tracking orders and managing releases. It’s at  â€¦ Cimcool has redesigned its website to improve access. Customers may still sign up for free product trials from the provider of metalworking fluids at .

A new more user-friendly site has been launched by Star CNC Machine Tool Corp. It’s at .

What do you think?
Will the information in this article increase efficiency or save time, money, or effort? Let us know by e-mail from our website at or e-mail the editor at

editor's blogs

Dennis Seeds

Off the Toolpath

EASTEC marks 30th show with spotlight on medical devices
The recession hasn’t stopped business, if the activity at the EASTEC Advanced Productivity Exposition is to judge. The show, in its 30th year, drew 570 exhibitors, down from 608 in 2008 and 650 in 2007. About 15,000 attendees pre-registered. Last year’s show tallied 14,000 attendees. The largest industrial tool trade show on the East Coast, EASTEC was held May19-21 in West Springfield, MA.
by Dennis Seeds, Editor-in-Chief

digital edition

On target
For a new generation of parts, automated centerless grinding fills the bill

The taper test
Prototype fixture finds the reason why vexing toolholder wear marks appear

Watchful eye keeps tabs on 575 machine tools
Aerospace supplier sees new productivity heights, lower costs

From 12 hrs to 25 mins
Giant steps for faster cavity hogging, square-offs follow re-tooling


Goodway Tech Corp


Innovative Carbide Inc




Siemens MCS


Haimer Usa

Stotz Usa LLC


Haas Automation INC

Modern Machine Tool


Gibbs & Associates


Troyke Manufacturing

Copyright © 2009 by Nelson Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction Prohibited. View our terms of use and privacy policy.