Manufacturing Today - July 2017 - 102

International

voestalpine Nortrak

Nortrak's manufacturing plants operate as "centers of
excellence" with each specializing on specific segments
of the industry. The manufacturing facility in Cheyenne
focuses on product for the heavy-haul freight market and
works primarily to serve Union Pacific Railroad. Cheyenne is also the site of Nortrak's plant for the production
of pre-stressed concrete crossties for turn-outs.
The Newton plant is ideally situated to work closely with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway
and Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS). Its operation
in Pueblo specializes in rail component work and welded crossings or "frogs." "We produce a wide variety of
crossing types including those designed to be welded
integrally into the track structure. Production of welded manganese crossings requires a specific and specialized process undertaken in Pueblo and Birmingham,"
Abbott explains.
The Birmingham facility also specializes in components for passenger and freight railways, which include
Amtrak, CSX and Norfolk Southern Railway. "Chicago

nortrak's facilities must
be flexible to respond to
product variations and
customers' lead times.

Heights is our biggest plant and serves a wide variety of
customers, including CN and the big transit agencies in
Toronto and the U.S. North-east," Abbott says. "Chicago Heights is also home to an impressive stable of heavy
CNC manganese milling equipment. Nortrak's Decatur
operation is a ferrous foundry that specializes in the
large manganese alloy castings necessary for the fabrication of trackwork."
Notwithstanding operating specialization, the roles
played by Nortrak's manufacturing facilities are not hard
and fast, Abbott says. "Product variations and the lead
time demands of our customers require that we be flexible," he adds. "A lot of our orders, especially through Chicago Heights and Birmingham, are built-to-spec projects
so being nimble and creative are keys to success."
In all of its facilities, Nortrak has begun rolling out its
latest operational program, "OpEx," which Abbott describes as "lean manufacturing on steroids." "We are in
the midst of rolling that out and have trained most of our
managers and engineers in OpEx processes," he adds.
"Although we are still in the early stages of implementation, we have already driven significant efficiencies
through the program."

Expanding its Range
Nortrak prides itself in maintaining close relationships
with its customers and having the ability to develop products to meet their specific needs. "Throughout its history,
voestalpine Nortrak has sought to satisfy its customers
by consistently expanding its range of high-technology
products and services," the company says. "Its integration in the 1990s into the VAE Group of companies was
a major milestone in this regard. With voestalpine Nortrak's parent company, voestalpine VAE GmbH, having
102

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