In 1980, the first truck produced at Peterbilt’s Denton, Texas manufacturing plant – a Model 359 known as “Old No. 1” – came off the assembly line. Thirty-five years later, the facility has produced nearly 500,000 trucks, hosted tens of thousands of customers and set new standards for quality, safety, efficiency and innovation.
“The value Peterbilt’s Denton plant has brought through the years to the company, our employees, customers, dealers and the community is immeasurable,” said Darrin Siver, Peterbilt General Manager and PACCAR Vice President. “The Denton plant is a premier manufacturing facility across any industry and we continue to invest in the tools, processes and people that keep it state-of-the-art.”
When the plant first opened, there were 81 employees working to manufacture 2-1/2 trucks per week. Maximum capacity was expected to be 16 trucks daily. Through continuous improvement and ongoing investment, the plant’s current production capacity is ten times that and the workforce is 2,000 strong.
Industry-Leading Quality and Technology Leadership
Since opening, the 455,000 square-foot plant has undergone numerous changes to increase efficiency, capacity and productivity. The introduction of new models has brought on new tooling and processes, and technology has been introduced to enhance operations. In many instances, Peterbilt was the first truck manufacturer to introduce key technologies, such as a robotic chassis paint system.
“To ensure our industry-leading quality and technological leadership, Peterbilt is constantly innovating throughout all areas of our operations,” said Leon Handt, Peterbilt Assistant General Manager of Operations. “We laid the foundation 35 years ago in Denton to establish advanced manufacturing technologies, and we’ve been building on it ever since, taking it to levels of efficiency, quality and productivity far beyond when the facility was first designed.”
Recent improvements to the plant include robotic cab assembly for the Models 579 and 567 and a Non-Contact Axle Alignment System.
The plant is also undergoing a three phase expansion project. The first phase created additional east side dock doors and receiving capacity. Phase two will add 17,000 square feet of additional material receiving area on the west side of the facility. Phase three, scheduled for completion in mid-2016, will create an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) on the second level of the building to index painted hoods, cabs and sleepers.
Showcasing Peterbilt Pride
In 2014 the company added the Peterbilt Experience, a 4,300 square-foot exhibit that greets customers when they enter the plant. The Peterbilt Experience includes “Old No. 1;” a 1939 Model 260WD (the oldest complete Peterbilt known to exist); a 1940 Model 334; Peterbilt’s newest Models 579 and 567; cab and sleeper cutaways; the full lineup of PACCAR engines; and videos and interactive displays on topics such as truck innovations, styling processes and manufacturing technologies.
“The Peterbilt Denton plant is one of the strongest selling tools we have,” said Robert Woodall, Peterbilt Assistant General Manager of Sales and Marketing. “Thousands tour the plant every year, and it’s a great way to showcase our product quality, customization and technology. The Peterbilt Experience is a great addition to the facility and gives visitors a unique opportunity to experience Peterbilt’s products and the company’s history.”
One of the most memorable takeaways every visitor leaves with is the feeling of pride and enthusiasm that fills the plant.
“Peterbilt has a highly skilled, very passionate workforce,” said Ron Augustyn, Denton Plant Manager. “It’s a great place to work. Everyone takes tremendous pride in what they do and it really shows.”