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Stackyard News Feb 08

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Big Investment in Production Facilities Supports McCormick

Integration of McCormick tractor production into the ARGO Group’s headquarters manufacturing and assembly plant in Italy has been completed as part of a €10 million (£7.5 million) investment in new and upgraded production facilities.

One of McCormick's MC series tractors nears the end of the assembly line at the ARGO Group's headquarters factory at Fabbrico, northern Italy.


The McCormick CX and MC tractors previously built in Doncaster now share an existing ‘four-cylinder’ assembly line with similar size models in ARGO’s Landini range, while the McCormick MC Power6, MTX and XTX tractors are built on an extensively upgraded line dedicated to six-cylinder engined models from both ranges.

“Integrating production of these tractors in a very flexible mixed-product assembly process will have significant cost-efficiency advantages,” points out Ray Spinks, newly-appointed head of ARGO Group operations in Britain. “In addition, I believe the McCormick products will benefit from being assembled at the heart of the group’s expanding R&D and engineering facilities.”

Mr Spinks acknowledges that the run-down of production at McCormick’s Doncaster plant, which built its final tractor in December last year, has had an impact on sales and deliveries.

“It introduced some uncertainties and resulted in product shortages, particularly for six-cylinder tractors towards the end of the year, when getting the new assembly line up to speed took longer than expected,” he explains. “But that’s behind us now; the new line for the bigger tractors is fully operational, output is steadily increasing as the workforce gets used to the model mix and we’re looking forward to an improvement in lead times and deliveries as spring approaches.”

Transferring production of McCormick’s ‘Doncaster’ tractors to the ARGO plant at Fabbrico in northern Italy has been a major exercise, which first involved moving assembly of the group’s specialist orchard and vineyard tractors to a new €2 million (£1.5 million) facility at Luzzara, approximately 20km away.

“We then needed a new paint shop to handle the McCormick tractors’ larger chassis and had to create more space on the assembly floor, which involved building a new production warehouse,” explains Fabbrico production manager Roberto Zamboni. “We also needed larger quality-control and final inspection areas and had to organise component sourcing and storage. Then, of course, we had to train our workforce to build the McCormick tractors to the same high quality standards as our Landini products.”

In addition to the €5 million (£3.75 million) spent at Fabbrico, a further €1 million (£0.75 million) was spent upgrading the San Martino factory making sub-100hp utility tractors. €2 million (£1.5 million) was spent doubling capacity at the group’s dedicated cab manufacturing facility.

“We like to build as much of our tractors as possible to control quality,” emphasises Mr Zamboni. “With only a few exceptions, we make all the transmissions, rear axles, front axles and cabs in our own factories.”

Future plans for the Fabbrico factory include relocating the design, engineering and R&D departments to an all-new facility to accommodate the extra engineers and other staff taken on to help develop the McCormick range.

In the meantime, the assembly line workers at the headquarters plant are producing 60hp to 200hp tractors at a rate of 56 per day, with some more capacity still to come.

“That will be welcome news to our patient customers and dealers eager for deliveries,” says Ray Spinks. “After all the uncertainty, it’s good to see the McCormick range settled into its new home.”

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