Newell Rubbermaid Inc. is installing 55 injection molding presses at its Wooster, Ohio, Rubbermaid Home Products manufacturing plant.
The housewares giant said June 1 that all of the presses have been delivered and most are in operation. Newell Rubbermaid also said it is acquiring 170 robots to improve efficiency and it expects all of them to be running by the end of the year.
The company had alluded to the purchases when the firm said it would spend $20 million to expand and upgrade equipment at Wooster rather than build a warehouse there.
Wooster also recently hired more production workers. Officials did not disclose the tonnage range of the new presses or the suppliers of the presses and robots.
Wooster's expansion is one of the ``Newellization'' programs the former Newell Co. has begun implementing throughout Rubbermaid. In manufacturing, other programs include closing Little Tikes' Shippensburg, Pa., plant and cutting outside suppliers' work by about half; currently that work makes up 40-45 percent of operations. About 200 stock items will be dropped from Rubbermaid product lines.
Newell replaced management teams at Rubbermaid Home Products and Little Tikes, ``the two most underperforming divisions,'' according to a company news release. The new managers are Newell veterans. The two divisions account for about 60 percent of Rubbermaid's sales.
Newell's financial controls on pricing, capital spending and budgeting have been set up at Rubbermaid divisions. Newell also will convert Rubbermaid's computer systems to its own by the end of August.
Newell Rubbermaid said Rubbermaid's integration is on or ahead of schedule in all phases. However, Rubbermaid profit will suffer in the first half of 1999 because of prior promotional commitments and the delay in getting merger approval.
John McDonough, Newell Rubbermaid vice chairman and chief executive officer, predicted the merger will increase Rubbermaid operating income by $115 million to $130 million this year, and by $220 million in 2000.