At Conexpo last week, Skyjack outlined the larger programme of activities that have seen a global transformation of its manufacturing footprint in the last 12 months. This transformation is set to represent a potential global unit capacity increase of 235% when compared to today’s (2022) capacity and will take the number of manufacturing plants from two in Canada to five globally – with new facilities in China, Europe and Mexico.
Ken McDougall, president of Skyjack, explained, “Prior to Covid, we were pushing the boundaries at our Canadian plants to the extent that we had simply had no more space. Covid itself brought a new series of challenges that highlighted the need to revisit supply chain and logistics structures with a view to more localisation.”
The initial phase of development has seen an increase in fabrication and vertical integration at the company’s Canadian plants. These changes will see a focus on the production of vertical masts, DC and RT scissors, with telehandlers and booms moving to the new plant in Mexico. Skyjack will also develop the Canadian plants as an innovation hub that will see an increased advanced engineering structure and the co-ordination of design and development activities across the company’s regional structure, now consisting of three regional business units: Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
“It is an exciting time for our Canadian plants. Our plans call for a significant increase in headcount and a positive change as we develop vertical integrations and an improved work environment,” said Mr McDougall.
Earlier in 2022, Skyjack announced its intentions to open manufacturing facilities in China. This project would consist of two phases. The first units came off the production line in September 2022, marking the completion of phase one which saw the use of a 35,000 sq ft facility utilised with the help of Skyjack’s parent company, Linamar. The plant, located in Tianjin, initially focused on the company’s smaller DC scissors. Phase 2, which was launched with a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2022, will see a greenfield facility developed with 400,000 sq ft. This new plant is scheduled to be in production in Q3 2023, focusing on DC scissors and booms with output supplying to the Asia Pacific and Australian regions.
“We have had our eye on the Chinese market for some time,” shared Mr McDougall. “The key to success here is the ability to commit to the region and in turn that means an in-market manufacturing presence. We have been lucky enough to benefit from our parent company’s existing infrastructure in the short term and we are now focused on building up sales and distribution networks.”
2022 also saw increased activity in Europe as Skyjack expanded in Oros, Hungary. The facility offers 113,000 sq ft of space. Production of the new SJ45 AJ and SJ60 AJ articulating booms started in October 2022 and the plant is destined to supply articulating booms, telescopic booms, DC and compact RT scissors to Europe.
In addition, January 2022 saw the first telehandler come off the production line of the new Skyjack plant in Mexico. Located in Ramos Arizpe, the Mexican facility has two phases. Phase one sees a 200,000 sq ft plant for telehandlers and booms, with the focus of production aimed at the Americas region. Phase two, which has already been initiated, will see an additional 490,000 sq ft of space.
Mr McDougall summarised, “2022 was a busy year and it is great to see how our global team achieved so much so quickly. 2023 will be even more exciting as this capacity comes on stream. This and some exciting new products later in 2023 will make it a memorable year!”