Safelite windshield plant increases product diversity

September 5, 2008

Safelite Glass Corp., Columbus, Ohio, the manufacturing division of Safelite AutoGlass, has expanded windshield production by 20,000 units annually at its Enfield, N.C., manufacturing facility, according to a Sept. 5 company release. The plant has added a cutting-edge grinding equipment to add exposed edge windshields to its product offering.

The factory, which employs 400 and now has an annual capacity of 1.4 million windshields, will continue to make upgrades throughout 2008, with a focus on environmental initiatives. The facility received a $30,000 grant from the State of North Carolina through the Incumbent Workforce Project for Lean Manufacturing training that includes two core classes for 55 employees provided by North Carolina State.

“Capacity and product line enhancements allow us to serve our retail and wholesale customers much faster and efficiently,” said Rich Glover, assistant vice president of manufacturing and distribution, Safelite, in the release. “New equipment and ongoing training are key in continuing to increase our capacity to serve customers throughout our expanding nationwide operations.”
Safelite Glass Corp. manufactures and distributes vehicle glass to Belron US, parent company of Safelite AutoGlass, which operates 3,500 mobile service vehicles and 302 retail locations in all 50 states.
Capacity updates at the plant include installing a fourth line where glass is cut and painted prior to going into the furnace to be shaped and the addition of the new grinding machine to afford the facility the technology to produce exposed edge parts. The plant also added the capability to produce acoustic windshields, which are intended to reduce road noise and are typically premium add-ons for new cars.
The first project underway with the environmental initiative is to incorporate environmentally friendly lighting improvements throughout the plant and to replace Styrofoam used in packing with cardboard. The wood pallets used in the shipping area also will be changed to increase the pack density, allowing for more products to be included in each truck reducing the total number of trucks on the road.
“We anticipate significant energy and cost savings with these new programs,” Glover said. “We will be evaluating them throughout 2008 and looking for additional ways we can continue to improve.”
Employees at Enfield’s Safelite plant recorded 2.55 million consecutive hours of production without a loss-time accident, putting this facility in the top one percent in North Carolina.