Chrysler’s Twinsburg, Ohio stamping plant
The Twinsburg stamping plant at 2000 East Aurora Road was opened in 1957. An article covering the groundbreaking claimed that it would be the largest of its kind in the country, in both floor space and productive capacity; the 200 acre site was chosen because it was close to steel producing areas, transportation, and water. The article said 28 lines of stamping presses were to be set up, producing around 1,200 tons of finished parts every day.
In 2002, Chrysler added numerous automated technologies to the 1.5 million square foot facility, including automatic guided vehicles from FMC and materials handling robots guided by a vision system (Cognex); these replaced a fleet of 103 lift trucks (now down to 35 lift trucks). The most dangerous lifting (due to weight of objects and sharp edges) are is now handled by robots. In 2002, Chrysler reported that the plant included fifteen lines, working continuously, making parts for minivans, the Neon, Durango, and Ram.
By 2006, the plant had 2.4 million square feet of floor space, and produced stampings and assemblies for minivans, Pacifica, Aspen/Durango, Ram, and Dakota, and every Jeep with the help of 228 robots and 1,7600 people. The plant was ISO 9002 certified in 1999, and ISO 14001 certified in 2001.
The press room of the Twinsburg Ohio Plant, which was built from 1956 through 1958, was the sole producer of all Chrysler line front doors and rear underbodies in the mid-1970s; at the time, major press lines were new, with smaller presses imported from other locations.
A lawsuit by the union noted that some work areas exposed 38% of the plant population to 90 to 95 decibels; 43% were exposed to 96 to 104 decibels. Chrysler tried to cut the noise level through engineering controls, with some success; they put polyurethane wheels on dollies, enclosed a rest area with acoustical paneling, built vibration pads into press mountings, welders, and hydraulic units, and insulated between metal to metal mountings, but noise remained unacceptably high (according to the case’s judge).
Like most domestic plants, Twinsburg suffered from numerous layoffs and sale rumors in 2007.
Twinsburg veteran Bill Wetherholt wrote: “Twinsburg Topics are newsletters from the plant that they put out monthly. It was in a magazine form, half a dozen pages or so. In the beginning they were in black and white, and they finally went into color. They had a really good printer who did a great job. They had all kinds of news about things that were going on in the plant like pictures of new presses being set up, or a new way of checking parts, or somebody had a recipe. It was strictly information to the employee as to what's going on in the corporation.
”Twinsburg was named because two twins married twins, back in the 1800s. When the brothers and their wives died, the story goes, they were buried in the same grave. And when one died on Tuesday, the other died on Wednesday.
“It’s grown. It’s quite big now. When the plant was built, there were a lot of corn fields around; a lot of open space, but now they sold and developed and they built shopping centers and there’s a mill, like everywhere else. It was a two lane road running through, the main highway, now it’s a four lane.”
Bill also talked to us about (and sent photos of) the Twinsburg Stampling Plant’s annual auto shows.
He also talked to us about life in a stamping plant.
We have an interview with his son, Matt, who worked at Twinsburg until it closed in 2010.
Now for the sad ones: Twinsburg in 2012, being demolished (courtesy of Elwood Funk.)