A walk through an axle plant


I am one of those editors that truly enjoy plant tours. I am fascinated how raw material comes into a plant at one end and then, after a typically circuitous journey through many stations, is transformed into a product comes out the other end.

So, when I received an invite from Meritor to tour its Fletcher (Asheville), NC, manufacturing facility I jumped at the chance.

However, I was concerned about walking the entire plant, the size of which is slightly more than a half million square feet.

The first thing that struck me about the plant was its relative quietness and how clean it was. I was also impressed by the number of automated processes and robotic systems, and with the emphasis on safety throughout the plant.

The facility, which is TS16949/ISO 9001 quality certified, didn’t look its age of 30 years old.

Its 737 employees manufacturer gearing, input shafts and housings, plus assemble carriers for Meritor truck, specialty and tactical-wheeled programs.

The plant has produced 5½ million axles since it opened in 1982.

Over the past three years, Meritor has invested $23 million in improvements at the plant.

The facility is one of the largest manufacturing employers in the area and actively supports the community.

My time at Meritor’s Fletcher manufacturing facility was most enlightening.

Thankfully, my tour took a number of short cuts so I didn’t have to cover the plant’s entire expanse of 504,000 square feet.