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New GM stamping plant will boost production in Arlington

By TERRY BOX
Staff Writer tbox@dallasnews.com

LOCAL ECONOMIC SNAPSHOT

AUTO INDUSTRY

MICHAEL HOGUE
Staff Artist mhogue@dallasnews.com

General Motors is building a $200 million stamping facility at its assembly plant in Arlington that will produce most of the body panels and metal pieces used on the plants full-size SUVs. After the stamping facility is completed early next year, the Arlington plant will no longer need to rely solely on giant stamping plants in the Midwest for its body parts. Although GM declined to provide many details of the stamping plant, this is how it is likely to work, industry officials say:
Twenty-ton coils of steel will be delivered to the stamping facility, where they will be oiled and cut into smaller sheets called blanks. An overhead crane will lift dies essentially molds into place, with one fitted to the upper portion of the press and another to the lower part. Once the dies are in place, the steel or aluminum blanks can be placed between the jaws of the press. The press will strike the blank with as much as 25,000 tons of force, shaping the steel or aluminum into a body panel that will become a door or fender, or some other metal part.

Stamping plant facts


Cost: About

$200 million
Size in square feet:

200,000 180

workers ranging from entry-level people to engineers

a year in shipping and other expenses is what the stamping plant should save GM.

$40 million 1.5 million

pounds is about the weight of each press. The facility is likely to have three lines of presses with five or six presses in each line.

Production vs. employment


Arlington GM Assembly Plant over the last 10 years:
Hourly and salaried workers

The raw pieces will then be taken to the body shop next door, where they will be welded together, forming bare SUV bodies ready for paint.

Plant vehicles
Here are the main vehicles built at the GM Arlington plant, with 2012 sales (through September): Cadillac Escalade GMC Yukon Chevy Tahoe 9,294 19,149 49,481

Annual vehicle production


3,000 268,299

2,400 220,426

02

11

SOURCES: General Motors; Automotive News; Dallas Morning News research

The bottom line


No one is building giant stamping plants in the Midwest anymore. The state of the art is to have a contiguous stamping facility next to your body shop, which it sounds like this one is. If theyre investing in that sort of stamping plant, they are making a strong commitment to the plant.

In todays times, this [investment] just gives you more life. When there was excess capacity in the industry, you could always switch production from one plant to another. The [stamping facility] just gives Arlington more independence, and it is GMs only full-size SUV plant.

The stamping facility is one of several major additions to the Arlington plant that will make it bigger, more independent and more productive. By next spring, the plant will have about 3,600 employees, a new stamping facility that can punch out most of the metal parts needed for the plants SUVs and a retooled assembly line. It should be a significant plant in the GM system for years. Terry Box, auto writer, The Dallas Morning News

Jay Baron, president of the Center for Automotive Research

George Hoffer, business professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who follows the auto industry