JCB Will Add 100 Workers To Build Backhoe for Army
JCB Inc.'s Savannah plant looks to add up to 100 workers to build high-speed backhoe loaders for military engineering tasks. Primary tasks of military JCB machines include the movement and transit of ammunition and weapon loads, digging trenches and disarmament of mines.
JCB said it expects its initial contract with the U.S. Army to be worth up to $140 million. That figure represents the first 365 loaders Congress has authorized. "We're optimistic we'll be building more than that," a company spokesperson said.
The Army said it wanted speed and that's what the High Mobility Engineer Excavator (HMEE) vehicle provides, said JCB. The company added the 12-ton backhoe loader's 5.9-liter Cummings diesel engine gives it enough get-up-and-go to reach 57 mph.
The award of the contract by TACOM, the US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, follows a three-year program of design, development and testing to produce a military machine to meet stringent performance criteria. JCB beat out competitor Australian Defense Industries for the contract, the company said.
Following the approval of production validation test machines during 2006, full production will commence in early 2007 at JCB's 500,000 square-foot Savannah plant off Interstate 95. Most of the approximately 100 new jobs will be created during 2007, according to JCB, which employs 380 people at the Savannah plant.
Deliveries are scheduled to continue until 2012, the company says.
The HMEE combines the capabilities of the world-renowned JCB backhoe loader and the innovative high-speed JCB Fastrac agricultural tractor, which is the only tractor to have full suspension and anti-lock brakes. The objective of the HMEE concept is to have a machine capable of traveling at military convoy speed without the need for transportation by a truck and low-boy trailer. A fully armored version is under discussion.
The four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer HMEE can lift more than two tons and dig to a depth of 13 feet. It is designed to be air-transportable by Hercules C-130 aircraft.
Helmut Peters, president of JCB Inc North America, said JCB's Savannah team designed and developed the vehicle. "The JCB HMEE is a remarkable machine ready to support the U.S. Army," he said.
"The HMEE will revolutionize the capability of military engineers thanks to JCB's breakthrough technology and presents us with huge global opportunities," added Peters.
JCB has supplied 45 different military organizations across the world with over 3,000 JCB machines. Primary tasks of military JCB machines include the movement and transit of ammunition and weapon loads, digging trenches and disarmament of mines.
JCB is the fifth largest manufacturer of construction equipment in the world. The privately owned company has 14 manufacturing plants on five continents, producing more than 185 different machines. Its first ameircan made backhoe rolled off the assembly line in Savannah in 2000.
Von: 10 October 2005, http://www.savannahbusiness.com