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Automation, New Tech Comes to Heartland Manufacturing Facility

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In early November of 2023, Heartland RV opened a new assembly plant including 144,000 square feet of space to manufacture small travel trailers, large fifth-wheel toy haulers and more.

The facility is designed to create a more efficient assembly line withnew technologies and streamlined processes that result in faster, smoother production.

The new assembly plant features 40 stations on the line, including 34 assembly line stations and an additional six pre-delivery inspection (PDI) stations at the end of the assembly line. PDI stations run Heartland RVs through a rigorous testing process, according to the company. The plant also includes a cabinet shop on its upper mezzanine level. Rather than transporting or lifting cabinets, they will be loaded onto a freight elevator. This freight elevator will then be lowered until it is level with the floor of the unit so that cabinets can be slid on for installation.

“We pride ourselves on building products with the customer in mind at Heartland RV,” said Kyle Kwasny. “With a dedication to refining our processes, we continually elevate the standard of our products without compromising on quality. The result is products that are proven, smarter, and simpler for campers.”

A new STORETEQ panel storage and retrieval system provides automated help that optimizes manufacturing and boosts efficiency. With two beam saws, one computer numerical control (CNC) saw and one gantry load/store system, it stores, retrieves and cuts panels to size automatically. These processes conserve energy by streamlining the transportation of materials, reducing stops and starts in workflow, and decreasing the amount of materials damaged through normal human error.

Automation is used elsewhere in the new assembly plant, too, the company said. Four remote power-driven crane systems help move components where they need to go. A pair of optimizing saws cut face frame stiles and raw lumber materials to size with precision, reducing scrap while improving quality. An automated hinge bore machine was also added for installing hinges precisely on cabinet doors.

As part of Heartland’s continued commitment to sustainability, the new assembly plant will store 90% of all materials inside, decreasing the energy used to transport components from one building to another.

“The new plant was designed to allow us to meet our lean manufacturing goals,” said Dan Stone of Heartland RV. “This plant has manufacturing flexibility, capabilities and repeatability built in to improve quality, cost, delivery and safety. This is achieved by reducing waste within every process, increasing flow and providing better communication throughout to provide a safe and clean environment for our team members.”

In the near future, Heartland plans to add an iPad management system, live electric documentation, and online alert messaging to the plant to continue improving the manufacturing processes.

The new assembly plant is the latest in a list of improvements Heartland has made in the last few years. In 2022, they added a 73,000-square-foot parts warehouse to the campus. The new indoor parts warehouse will store components in a centralized location, serving as the hub for Heartland’s Service Department, which supports their nationwide network of service providers and retail customers. The new warehouse will also feature equipment that facilitates increased efficiency.

For an in-depth first look at the new Heartland assembly plant and its new technologies, visit https://youtu.be/Qh4VUP7OqPI.

To learn more about Heartland, visit heartlandrvs.com.

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