Efficient Plant January 2018 - 24
feature | plant profile
In May 2017, Uponor
invested $17.4 million
to add an additional
58,000 sq. ft. to its
manufacturing annex in
Apple Valley, MN.
users visualize the space and it also helps to
de-risk the construction process because
you can design without conflicts
between electrical, mechanical, and
pneumatic lines. You can move
things around virtually now to
avoid having to move things physically later. It's so helpful."
Sillerud explained that the
technology is also beneficial when
virtually considering aspects such
as plumbing and electrical systems to
ensure adequate clearance with regard to
floor height and other specific variables. By
looking at the 3D modeling for machine layout,
he said, it helps to better integrate the building's
drawings with machinery placement.
PLAN FOR GROWTH
Digital Twin and AI
Interested in learning more
about the impact digital-twin
and artificial intelligence
technologies are having
on manufacturing? Listen
to a conversation editorial
director Gary L. Parr had with
Jeff Erhardt, vice president
Intelligent Systems, GE
Michelle Segrest is president
of Navigate Content Inc.,
and has been a professional
journalist for 28 years.
She specializes in creating
content for the processing
industries and has toured
manufacturing facilities in 52
cities in six countries on three
continents. If your facility
has an interesting efficiency,
reliability story to tell, contact
The new building and the Hutchinson facility are
linked to Uponor North America's five-year master
plan. "We started out strategically looking at the
projected growth for the business," Sillerud said.
"Then we brought that down to a granular level in
terms of what we need for space, machines, and personnel. At the existing site, we have to look at how
to configure space, based on the overall envelope of
the building, that would be the most efficient use of
the land that we had available. The new site-which
is a 237,000-square-foot building on a 34-acre
site-gives us very significant headroom for future
In addition to using strategic digital-twin tools
and careful planning, Uponor made extensive use
of the experience and input of the employees who
work on the manufacturing floor every day.
"It was important to get their understanding and
buy-in and ideas," Sillerud said. "This has been very
helpful. They are the ones who have to live it every
day. We have a very collaborative continuous-improvement culture here at Uponor. In the past five
straight years we have been named one of the top
workplaces in the state of Minnesota. We work
together very openly. It's just natural for us to work
together. We don't work in silos."
Change management is part of every large
project, continued Sillerud, who has spearheaded
two new greenfield construction projects for large
plants, nine plant closures, and four brownfield
projects. "I have a lot of experience dealing with
growth," he said. "The more you can communicate
and involve people with the change, the more they
feel that they are part of the change rather than feeling that the change is happening to them. Through
the planning and execution process, it's very much
a cross-functional team effort involving production,
maintenance, engineering, facilities, EHS, quality,
IT-all functions were represented to be able to
optimize our plans and then the execution."
EXPANDING IN HUTCHINSON
The Hutchinson building already has the benefit of
solid manufacturing infrastructure.
"The envelope of this building works quite
well for us," Sillerud explained. "We are able
to renovate certain portions inside to get the
process-specific infrastructure that we need for
mixing and tooling, quality labs, etc. We are able
to convert the building quite easily to be very well
suited for our needs. We will now have the ability
to continue our profitable growth and provide
more opportunities for our people as we grow.
We are also excited about the ability, with these
new spaces, to do layout and other organizational
things in a more efficient manner than we've been
able to do in the past."
Even with a good existing manufacturing infrastructure, the company was able to find opportunities to design improved flow and processes. In
addition to the forklift-only aisles, all IT systems
have been coordinated with the multi-site manufacturing scheme.
"This is something you can do when you have a
wide-open canvas to work with," Sillerud said.
"Because of the five-year master plan, we were
able to project into the future where all the additional assets would reside. That really helped us
from a layout standpoint. We had to design with
a fast-forward of five years and knowing what will
be there. We had to begin with the end in mind.
This kind of planning will pay huge dividends for
us," he concluded. EP