Lightning eMotors, a leading provider of zero-emission medium-duty commercial vehicles and fleet electric vehicle technology, has completed a 102,000-square-foot expansion of its manufacturing campus in Loveland, Colorado, and reconfigured workstations throughout the plant to incorporate advanced automation and augmented reality systems across multiple workstations and assembly areas.
The extension of the facility and the investment in new equipment are part of the company's endeavor to improve efficiency and capacity. Collaborative robots and man-machine interface stations worth more than $5 million will be installed at the plant. This will allow technicians to work faster and more consistently while improving safety and quality.
Lightning eMotors' retooled and expanded manufacturing operations will increase annual production capacity to 1,500 zero-emission complete vehicles and powertrain systems by the end of 2022, putting the company on track to produce up to 20,000 vehicles and powertrain systems by 2025, as previously announced. In addition, lightning eMotors believes it can quickly expand and add the extra square footage needed on its one-million-square-foot site to support up to 20,000 entire automobiles and powertrain systems per year.
"Our experience building vehicles and powertrains have provided us with unique insights about how to build zero-emission vehicles with industry-leading quality and cost control, and we’ve applied what we learned to the investments we’ve made in expansion and automation,This expansion at our headquarters here in Loveland not only helps us increase our production capacity—but the additional tooling and automation enable our technicians to do their jobs more safely, more efficiently, and with a focus on quality and consistency."
-Lightning eMotors’ CEO, Tim Reeser.
Collaborative robotics (Cobots) will be included in the plant expansion to aid technicians throughout the fabrication and welding processes. Lightning eMotors is also transforming manual assembly and production processes through projected augmented reality (AR) software. Virtual step-by-step work instructions are projected onto an employee's work area, resulting in improvements in quality and productivity right away. This is called "augmented reality."
Additionally, 3,700 square feet of the facility are being remodelled to house Lightning's new vehicle research and development annex and battery testing lab, including a dynamometer rated for commercial vehicles and advanced battery testing equipment.
"As we expand Lightning eMotors’ production capacity, we are incorporating advanced manufacturing processes, We have also built a manufacturing and operations team that includes several talented executives who bring a wide range of experience and expertise from some of the world’s best manufacturers, including BMW, Nissan, and Tesla."
-Brian Barron, Lightning eMotors’ chief manufacturing officer
More than 50 highly skilled specialists currently produce and customize medium-duty commercial vehicles at the company's manufacturing location. By the end of 2022, that number is predicted to double as the company continues to expand.
I am very proud of the team for completing this phase of our manufacturing operations expansion and am excited by the improvements in production efficiency we have been able to achieve and the new jobs we are creating as we continue to grow, Reeser said. "The jobs we are providing are at the higher end of pay and benefits for manufacturing jobs at this skill level and will benefit our local community.
According to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended, some of the information in this press release is "forward-looking."