Surprises in Mississippi

We are in the middle of an editors' press tour of Baldor, and their gigantic new acquistion, Reliance and Dodge. Today, we visited Baldor's brand new medium motor plant in Columbus, Mississippi. Now, most people in the United States, outside of the South, think that manufacturing, especially in what is often called the Deep South, is circa 1920 and red of neck. Well, I'm here to tell you that these rednecks at Baldor have created very quietly, and with no fanfare at all, a fully world-class manufacturing facility for motors up to 250 hp or so. We were touring the plant when I noticed that every motor going down the assembly rollers toward final shipment was different. "Oh, yeah, we can do any size order, including 'push in' single unit rush orders..." Well, why didn't you point that out? A motor plant making just-in-time, semi-custom motors, as standard? "Well, that's the point, isn't it? For us, at Baldor, it's standard." Everywhere you look there is terrifically crafty manufacturing design and manufacturing engineering. They'd taken a break over the Thanksgiving holiday and when they got back, there was a problem with the varnish pots...the varnish had catalyzed and the dunk tanks and the piping and pumps were solid with hardened varnish. But they'd designed the varnish tanks to be removable...just in case. They re-plumbed, and carved the varnish out of the tanks, and didn't lose a beat. No order in the house on Monday will be late. All the CNC machines in the plant are linked by high speed ethernet to a common server in Engineering, and to the WAN that connects all Baldor plants...they could write a program in Ft. Smith, Ark., download it to a machine in Columbus, and be making product remotely if they wanted to. And that's just one of the reasons Baldor is competitively making motors in the USA. Show me a worldclass factory, and I'll show you why I am so passionate about the future of American manufacturing.