Global Collaboration – The Link Between Summerville and Stříbro

There are so many benefits to being a part of a global organization like KION Group, none of which quite compare to being able to leverage the power of collaboration between our wide and diverse knowledgebase. As the finish line for Project HomeTurf approaches, we wanted to be certain that the growth we have put so much investment into was felt both in the physical presence of the new facilities, and in the skills of our dedicated staff. This was an opportune moment to seize the support that KION Group could provide, since processes were being put in place that were new to KION North America, but not new to KION Group.

Through September and early October, a team of KION NA operations staff were sent to the KION plant in Stříbro, Czech Republic. They were able to learn how to operate the CLOOS Robotic Welding system which currently welds masts in Stříbro and is soon to do the same in Summerville, along with learning the entire SSB machining system, ETS measuring system, and TPM checks on the new machinery.

  • Denny Strack – Fabrications Manager
  • Greg Alcantara – CNC Operator (Set-Up)
  • Barron Quanz – CNC Operator
  • Daniel Deas – CNC Operator
  • Joe Moore – Welder
  • Jason Myers – Quality
  • Shawn Sandella – Maintenance
  • Michael Miller – Maintenance

All these training topics covered key skills for operating machinery, conducting quality inspections, and providing maintenance that will be crucial in successfully launching our new facility. Denny Strack, Fabrication Manager, commented on the team’s experience training with staff at KION Stříbro:

“The trip to Stříbro met all my expectations. We went into the training with many goals in mind, and continuously checked them off throughout the entire 5 weeks. By the end of the trip, all the team members were able to achieve positive results on each goal. The Stříbro staff were so engaged with helping us and the leadership team broke down all barriers for our team to effectively train. Additionally, KION Group has done a great job standardizing the 6S methodology around the world. I was able to identify key warehouse components with ease, even though we were on the other side of the globe and in a facility with such a large footprint specialized in these new processes.”

The KION NA team returned with a wealth of knowledge, and a confidence that they would be able to start their new responsibilities when Plant 3 begins operations in 2024. However, both teams left the month-and-a-half of training with new international relationships to lean on. “The employees from the Stříbro facility were nothing short of amazing. They greeted us with open arms and were very helpful through the training. One of the noticeable similarities between our two workplaces was that KNA and Stříbro both have employees who are willing to go above and beyond their normal day-to-day task.” – Shawn Sandella, Maintenance Team Lead.

Of course, you don’t travel that far from home and not make time to experience the local culture! When not attending training at KION Stříbro, the teams coordinated several excursions to get a feeling of the region’s cuisine, history, and traditions. Some of the activities they were able to enjoy were visiting Prague, attending various festivals, taking a guided tour of the Pilsen Brewery, and taking a trip on motorcycle around part of the Czech Republic.

“I was able to do a lot of exploring. My personal time was spent walking around the city square. I climbed the tallest church tower in Czechia at St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral with Shawn and man, I was winded – 300 steps straight up. My favorite experience was enjoying the culture, enjoying some of their festivals, and the beautiful countryside. The scenic drives through the country and the beautiful architecture were awesome. “ – Joe Moore, Welding Team Lead

“I did get a chance to explore the area and every bit of it is the best experience so far in my life.” – Greg Alcantara, CNC Setup Technician

With the team back, we are wrapping up installation of these systems in Plant 3! CLOOS Robotic Welding systems are now being prepared for final testing, with 6S practices and the team’s skills being applied to conclude our installation. This trip was the first of its caliber in KION NA history and has been a resounding success in more ways than one. Beyond having a specialized team, we’ve created connections and memories that will last a lifetime and displayed the potential of collaboration and investing in our people.

Many thanks to the KION Stříbro team for their unrelenting hospitality!