What the Navistar San Antonio plant means to the International Truck manufacturer
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What the Navistar San Antonio plant means to the International Truck manufacturer

Jason Morgan is the content director of Fleet Equipment.

The opening of the Navistar San Antonio plant, a technology driven, sustainability minded manufacturing facility that will churn out Class 6 through 8 marked a new era for Navistar. It was the first in-person media event held under the TRATON Group ownership and the atmosphere was one of forward-looking investment and confidence in the new manufacturing foundation that is positioned for growth.

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But you don’t have to take my word for it. Hear it direct from the Navistar executives themselves. Watch the videos below for the full comments from Navistar CEO and President Mathias Carlbaum, and Senior Vice President, Global Manufacturing, Mark Hernandez.

Navistar President, CEO Mathias Carlbaum

Here’s the transcript

Good afternoon. Already mentioned the presence of certain people here, but I do truly want to repeat how grateful and honored that you’re here today with us. Judge Nelson Wolff, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City Manager, Erik Walsh, other officials from San Antonio, press, business partners and all the friends and colleagues at NAVISTAR.

Today’s a proud moment for NAVISTAR and for myself. We’re investing for the future, a future which we see very bright. And let me tell you why I believe in NAVISTAR together with San Antonio, starting with what NAVISTAR brings. We bring here a modern company, a forward leaning company, into clean and safe technology. A company with strong aspirations to be the future leader in the transformation of transportation. In the coming 10 years, more will happen in the transportation sector than has happened the last 100. We also bring a company founded in 200 years of crowd history with very strong values based, above all, in people and trust.

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What do I see we get by coming here to San Antonio? First of all, we get a very supportive and caring local government. Secondly, the direct relations with leading centers of technology excellence. And third, and probably most important of all, we get great people to work with us. And I would like to center little bit around people. As mentioned, what I see most important in everything we have ahead of us, is the people that make the difference. And in this short visit that I’ve had since yesterday morning here in San Antonio, I’ve already found a very friendly, optimistic, ambitious, and a will of win in the people that I’ve met. And I’m sure that under the leadership of Rod here at the plant and Adam at the Advanced Technology Center, we will together bring with an inclusive, diverse, and a speak up culture in which we challenge ourselves and each other, and when we win and lose together, this is the perfect bet. Two great cultures meet here in San Antonio. And this is what will determine our future success.

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Personally, I’m very committed of this path, but here in NAVISTAR in San Antonio, we also do an investment for the planet. The investment here is a key step towards a zero carbon operations and zero emission vehicles, that this company has stated as a clear target for 2040. And we are committed to state of art, sustainability stewardship and we’re ready to produce these zero emission vehicles already here from day one. Close in time, already by 2030, we’re convinced that more than 50% of the vehicles that leave this plant will be zero emission vehicles.

I would also like to take this great opportunity on stage to very much congratulate Rod, Chris, Mark, and hundreds of others that I can’t mention by name, but who’ve achieved this, to set up this plant, in record time, in record quality. I mean… I’ve been walking around. People have mentioned to me expressions such as goosebumps. I mean, in two years time, in plain pandemic period, to reach targets in time and budget is remarkable. It’s group benchmark and industry benchmark, which you’ve achieved. So, congratulate to that.

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And just to round off and finalize. And remember that we are here inaugurating the first truck assembly plant in the US since 1991. And at NAVISTAR, we clearly understand our responsibility to create the better future for the generations to come, be that our employees, our customers, or society in broad. And we truly believe in this future for NAVISTAR, for America and for San Antonio. That’s why we’ve invested here and that’s why we’re committed to continue investing. Thank you very much.

Navistar SVP Mark Hernandez

Here’s the transcript

My name is Mark Hernandez, as they said. I’m vice president of global manufacturing and logistics. I was recently asked how to summarize this plant in one word. And after a lot of thought, it was about the future. It’s about what does it mean for us, not only today, but going forward. And I believe that this plant is going to lay the foundation for the future for Navistar for many years to come.

We already know that 2022 is going to be a transformative year for the transportation industry as well as Navistar. We are under a new ownership. The sky’s the limit for us in how we can take advantage of the North American market. The choices we choose today are going to be important in how we lay out our future going forward. So we’re really excited to be here in San Antonio and have this be the basis for what we’re doing.

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When I walk through this plant … I don’t know if many people don’t know me. I’ve been around for a while in commercial vehicles, probably 30 years building trucks. Was a nuclear engineer at one time and never thought I would be building trucks, so that’s a change. But the technology in this plant reminds me of the past when we had to build trucks from paper and everything wasn’t automated and all the parts were on the assembly line, walking down the line. And then you come look at this facility and you say, “Wow, we’ve come a long way.”

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I want to take you on a walk back to the 90s, and maybe the 80s for some of us. Maybe some of you won’t understand this analogy. But if those of you are old enough to remember the Walkman and you were fortunate enough to have a 90 minute tape, which meant 45 minutes on each side, and those of you with the first generations know that you had to flip over the tape because it wouldn’t play in the other direction, that’s what I think the past is. Now, with the cloud, with information, with data, with technology, with digitization in our facilities, we’re looking at the future. And is the few future here today? No. We’re just laying the groundwork for the future. We’re in step two of 20. And so with San Antonio, you’ll see that the technology, and I hope you saw it on the plant tours, are setting us up for the future of advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning for the future to come, not only in manufacturing, but in supply chain as well.

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When you look at the facility and we talk about digitization, it’s not about making things IT friendly and making them happen faster. You have to have of good business processes. And that’s where Rod was alluding to. We lean towards lean manufacturing. Those will provide the robust business process, and we just use digitization to make them happen faster. So when you have a good process, we want it to happen as fast as possible and yield the results.

We will use industry 4.0 technologies here, internet of things. All our equipment would be connected as well as our information flow so that we can react to situations on the assembly line as they happen in real time and not wait until the production meeting the next day after we produce 50 vehicles that may have an issue. We will know it on the first vehicle and we will take action so the quality level here in San Antonio will be very, very, high.

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Collecting all this data will allow us to utilize that data for analytics so that we can predict issues, whether it’s machine downtime, whether it’s quality issues going forward, we will definitely leverage that going forward. And this plant gives us the [inaudible 00:04:17] that we can take it to the five other manufacturing facilities within Navistar. So this will be the benchmark, the pilot, the foundation for what we do going forward.

The other piece of this facility, I hope you saw in the last station, or depending where you started on the tour, is sustainability. We aim to be a zero discharge facility. The world itself, and probably more so today with gas prices rising, is that electrification is becoming very important. But it’s very important on the manufacturing side that we have facilities that have zero discharge, that we recycle all our waste. We don’t produce or we reduce the amount that we’re using here. And this plant has all that and then some. We have fuel cell forklifts that, I don’t if they talked about it back in the logistics center, we’re looking at every different level of technology to move us forward. It’s not just about saying we’re sustainable. It’s about meaning we’re sustainable. And for me, I have inbound logistics as part of this. It’s looking at the supply chain. Our customers that carry our goods, we want them to be cognizant of their carbon footprint going forward in this world. So we will push those things forward as we come out with electric trucks that are built right here in San Antonio to move the world.

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So with that being said, for those of you who do know, we have an advanced technology center that’s just up the road where we do a lot of testing of our vehicles, and Michael’s team is very well engaged there. So it’s very important that we’re very close to our manufacturing facility. It’s eight mile away. In fact, my office is over there so I stay out of Rod’s hair so he can build trucks. But it’s very important, that proximity there, because like I said, technology is going to change in this industry immensely over the next few years. And so having a location like that, so close to the assembly plant, will provide us the footprint for the future, for autonomy, for electrification, for connected vehicles going forward. So for me, I’m excited to see what the future brings. Today was just a path getting to today. But now the journey begins of what comes with our industry in the future. Thank you.

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