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 on Friday.

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

GM broke ground in April on the stamping plant, which will press out about 50 sheet metal components, such as hoods, fenders and door panels.

Now, the Arlington plant's sheet metal components are shipped in from other GM plants. Having an on-site stamping plant will save the company $40 million in shipping, 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, or as much as 206 four-door Chevrolet Tahoes, officials said.

Special route

The equipment will be installed to help the company build the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade SUVs.

Holes were dug 28 feet deep at the Arlington plant to create a foundation for the presses, which will stand an additional 30 feet aboveground.

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 the equipment is expected to be delivered by July.

Arlington Economic Development Manager Bruce Payne said GM's investment will increase the plant's 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

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

The 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 jobs. The tax break will save GM more than $1 million annually in city taxes.

Before that, the city offered GM an identical incentive package to secure a $331 million body shop expansion and retooling project, which brought 110 jobs. That deal will save GM about $1.2 million annually in city taxes.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock

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