GM's massive stamping equipment arrives

Posted Friday, Mar. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON - After a 550-mile trek from the Port of Houston, the first shipment of massive equipment for General Motors' new $200 million vehicle part stamping plant arrived in Arlington Friday.

The stamping plant is part of an overall $500 million investment General Motors has made recently at the Arlington Truck Assembly Plant, which was selected to produce the company's next generation of large sports utility vehicles.

GM broke ground last April on the stamping facility, which will press out about 50 different sheet metal components, such as hoods, fenders and doors panels. Currently, the Arlington plant's sheet metal components are shipped in from other General Motor plants and having an on-site stamping plant will save the company $40 million in shipping costs, Plant Manager Paul Graham said.

"It's going to help us as a site be more efficient," Graham said. "It will allow us to make our parts on site...instead of shipping them in from sites all over the United States. It's great for the local economy, it's great for businesses and it's great for us."

On Friday afternoon, GM employees greeted the arrival of two 19-axle haulers carrying the first of four loads of stamping plant equipment. When fully assembled, each of the four new presses will weigh 1.5 million pounds each, or as much as 206 4-door Chevrolet Tahoes, officials said.

Special route

In all, more than 5 million tons of equipment, including four giant presses, will be installed to help the company build the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade SUVs.

Holes 28-feet deep were dug at the Arlington plant to create a foundation for the massive presses, which will stand another 30 feet above ground.

Because of the size of the presses, the Texas Department of Transportation had to approve the route north across the state, which took the equipment through cities such as Dayton, Cleveland, Conroe, Prairie View, Personville, Mexia, Joshua and Mansfield.. All of the equipment is expected to be delivered by July.

Economic Development Manager Bruce Payne said General Motor's investment will increase the Arlington's plant's long-term viability.

"We were very happy that they ultimately selected this site for the full-size SUV assembly location," Payne said. "We didn't know what would happen during the economic downturn. If they had shuttered this plant, it would have been devastating for us."

More employees

General Motors officials said the Arlington plant has added 1,000 employees and implemented a third shift to keep up with vehicle demand. The Arlington plant, which opened in 1954, directly employs about 3,500 people.

The Arlington City Council approved a 10-year, 90 percent tax abatement last year for new buildings and equipment to lure the stamping facility and its 180 new jobs. The tax break will save GM more than $1 million annually in city taxes.

The city offered GM an identical incentives package before that to secure a $331 million body shop expansion and retooling project, which brought 110 new jobs. That deal will save GM about $1.2 million annually in city taxes for a decade.

- This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock

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