CNH Basildon opened its doors to the media recently as part its 50 year celebrations. TM's Herschel Crawford took a look for himself.
Basildon was inundated with a wave of agricultural and manufacturing media types last week as the New Holland tractor plant opened its doors for a jubilee press event and factory tour, celebrating 50 years of ever-improving service to the industry and UK manufacturing.
New Holland are one of few World Class Manufacturing (WCM) plants in the UK, recently securing a silver award for their sterling improvements over the last twelve months. It has been their elevation to this level of manufacturing excellence that has solidified the effort put in by the entire plant, especially plant manager Colin Larkin, to consistently improve.
This desire to adapt and maximize the productivity of the plant has manifested itself in a deep attention to detail, to the point that they can predict and ensure the timeframe each small model part and major floor job takes to complete, put together and move to the next point. This is before subjecting each machine to several rigorous quality tests. Furthermore, being enveloped under the CNH banner has allowed them to complement and aid each other, with plants all over the world aiding each other with parts, training and information exchanges to make New Holland as lean and global as possible.
Moreover, the plant and New Holland generally have used the target of gold standard and above WCM status as an impetus to radically improve the sustainability and eco aspects of the plant, doubling their efforts to create a greener plant and products. Since 2006, New Holland has been identified as a Clean Energy Leader, utilizing neutral energy production cycles to teach farmers more sustainable techniques, while ensuring that their products make as small an impression on the agricultural environment possible, keeping the land healthier for longer.
However, the centre-point of their green revolution is the current development of a hybrid product, an intended stop-gap until an entirely hydrogen powered option is available. Although unfortunately this has been put momentarily on hold until the technology to make the endeavour more effectively profitable exists, and the costs of parts lower. Nonetheless, this highlights a level of foresight prevalent within the company, with the efficiency of the company always coming first.
New Holland is also influential in its devotion to improving Basildon and the surrounding area. The jubilee acted as an opportunity to underline their commitment to its workers, some of whom remember when it was merely a Ford plant, and have worked there for decades. In order to nurture this connection to the region, they have placed a huge emphasis on apprenticeships, using it as a key educational tool in bringing often disenfranchised youth out of unemployment and teaching them useful technical skills. Larkin undoubtedly embodies this ideal, rising up through the company during a decade plus love affair with New Holland.
Jubilee celebrations also operated as an opportunity to announce their ongoing partnership with the Pioneer School, an educational facility for children suffering from learning disabilities. The intention is to provide the school with a Chinese-style garden by the start of the next school year, which is expected to help the children develop a relationship with nature, and aid them in overcoming their disabilities.
Overall, the New Holland and CNH plant is in a strong position to remain an industry leader for the next fifty years too, remaining as committed to innovation and the surrounding area as ever before, and excited to begin the next chapter in what looks to be an interesting future.