Erie Plastics Corp. capped off an $11 million expansion project by moving more than 100 major pieces of equipment 11/2 miles to its new, 430,000-square-foot plant.
The move took three weeks.
``We planned this over the last 12 months. It was a huge team effort,'' said Ron Walters, recently named president and chief operating officer of the Corry, Pa., company.
Walters has 36 years of experience at Erie Plastics. Hoop Roche remains chairman and chief executive officer.
``I'm the first to say that we are extremely happy with the way [the move] went,'' Walters said. ``God was on our side. We moved every piece, and it didn't rain once.''
The massive machinery move started April 23 and was completed by May 11.
The equipment included 54 molding machines, 60 pieces of automated decorating and assembly equipment and 400 pieces of auxiliary equipment, such as controllers and a temperature-control system.
Two teams, including personnel from two rigging companies, did the heavy lifting. One group was tearing down and removing equipment at the old plant, while the second group was setting it up in its new home. Inventories were built ahead of time, and presses were running in both plants during the move to satisfy orders.
``All the presses were moved with the molds still in the press - the reason was for speed,'' said Walters, noting that an 80,000-pound tow motor made the work easier.
Also, the new plant was large enough so that the presses could be driven right to their proper locations.
Walters said the project really started in 1996 when the building was purchased. Erie used it as a warehouse for four years. Two years ago the company added a new roof, a 40,000-square-foot corporate office and an innovation center that has a testing lab with three injection molding machines.
The manufacturing plant was next. A urethane floor was put in, along with 30,000 feet of material-handling lines, 7,000 feet of air lines, 10,000 feet of water lines, 30,000 feet of plastic pipe and four overhead cranes, with the largest at 12.5 tons.
The air-conditioned facility includes a 44,000-square-foot room for support and tooling, a lunch room for 120 people, an exercise room with a nurse's office and two large classrooms. There is even an indoor walking track that stretches a half-mile through the building.
The move is over, but Erie Plastics is adding eight Husky presses with 440 tons of clamping force in the next two months. That will run its total number of presses to 97 - 65 in Corry and 32 in Westborough, Mass.
The company specializes in custom packaging components. Procter & Gamble Co., Gillette Co. and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals are among its customers.
Walters said opening the Massachusetts facility five years ago helped prepare it for the latest move.
``We had to move 30 presses from Corry. We started in October and were done by Jan. 1. The move was 500 miles. What we learned from the other move was used to make this happen,'' he said.