The GM Powertrain Engine Plant in Tonawanda, New York is a key facet of General Motors’ manufacturing arsenal. It is one of the largest engine producing facilities in the world with over 3 million feet of floor space dedicated to the manufacture of several key lines for the company. Recently, $425 million was committed to bring manufacture of the Ecotec 2.4 Liter, four-cylinder engines to the plant, currently found in the critically acclaimed Chevrolet Malibu, an endeavor expected to create approximately 470 new jobs in the area. GM has invested $2.3 billion into their Tonawanda facility over the last decade with several additional lines being added in the next few years. Since operations began in 1938 the plant has churned-out nearly 75 million engines.
Under a $1.45 million contract from Hohl Industrial Services, O’Connell Electric was hired to build GM Powertrain’s new Ecotec 2.4 Liter engine and crank assembly lines. This was our eighth major project completed at the Tonawanda plant marking a working relationship that has spanned more than ten years with the auto giant.
O’Connell demonstrated its core values of adaptability, by constructing the two new lines under fully operational industrial manufacturing conditions and dependability, by completing all work without interruption to the surrounding production lines. Our management and technicians worked in tandem with GM plant operations and safety personnel to establish communication and scheduling protocols, utilizing one and two-week ‘look-aheads’ as well as the training and enforcement of stringent onsite safety procedures.
O’Connell powered all new machines and equipment off of the plant’s existing bus ducts with wire drops from a complex electrical duct system for equipment hook-up and testing. Throughout the five-month project, O’Connell systematically energized the giant snake-like conveyor assembly lines and worked closely with assembly line production systems manufacturer, Hirata, to bring hundreds of machines and equipment online and operational. In addition to electrical, O’Connell was responsible for all communications systems related to the assembly lines which required installation of all data cabling, hook-up to machines and machine consoles, and tie-in to the main communications hub.
O’Connell met all timelines for the project and had no recorded safety incidents.
Anheuser-Busch produces five of the top ten best selling beers in the country, including Bud Light and Budweiser, number one and two, respectively. Modernization of the finishing cellar at their Baldwinsville, New York brewery was part of a $182 million investment the beer-maker committed to US operations for the year. The Baldwinsville brewery began production in 1983 and is one of 12 breweries Anheuser-Busch operates across the country. Situated on 370 acres, their largest US site, the brewery has an annual production capacity of more than eight million barrels.
O’Connell employees have been providing Anheuser Busch with exceptional customer service, dependability, and quality of work at their Baldwinsville brewery for more than sixteen years. That history of trust helped determine O’Connell’s selection as prime contractor for the challenging and complex $2.5 million electrical construction portion of their modernization project, designed to increase efficiency and production at the facility.
The project called for the highest level of skill to meet Anheuser Busch’s exacting and demanding production process requirements. O’Connell’s scope of work involved power and connections for 5,300 new system control valves, 1,700 discrete and analog devices, and 214 pumps. For the brains of the operation we installed several new programmable logic controllers (PLC’s) and network-wired them, along with existing units in the plant’s central control room, to remote Input/Output (I/O) cabinets spread across the one-and-a-half million square foot facility. We were also responsible for removal of existing equipment and subcontracting the concrete work.
Through planned and skillful orchestration, O’Connell was able to minimize production disruptions at the brewery by staggering round-the-clock process shutdowns between brewing, packaging, and shipping. With no margin for error, our crews demonstrated extreme commitment and efficiency in completing all work within the allotted down-times—lasting between two days and two weeks—and even ahead of schedule, while maintaining the high quality standards O’Connell is known for.
O’Connell garnered recognition for their industry leadership and work on this project through foreman, Todd Naramore, who won the Syracuse Builders Exchange Annual Craftsmanship Award for excellence in construction for the electrical building trade category. Other projects completed by O’Connell personnel at the Baldwinsville brewery include their new Variety Pack line that facilitates combining of several brands into a common package, upgrade and modernization of their keg line, and a new high-speed can line.