Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Rolls-Royce said its MTU Aiken manufacturing facility is looking back with pride at past achievements while looking ahead with anticipation of opportunities still to come. The 395,000 square-foot-campus, which produces off-highway MTU-brand diesel engines, opened in fall 2010 when the company decided to move its manufacturing operations from Detroit to Graniteville, Aiken County, South Carolina. What started off as an assembly plant for two product lines has continually expanded in size and scope over the past decade to become much more.
“The original goal of the Aiken plant was to carve out our own space where we could take greater control over our destiny and our manufacturing here in the U.S.,” said Joerg Klisch, director of operations at the MTU Aiken plant. “Everything that we’ve been able to achieve here over the past 10 years reflects the positive culture and spirit of innovation that we have. We have continually challenged ourselves to take on the next program or develop the next competency, all with a focus on developing our people and our community along the way.”
The facility began with the assembly of MTU Series 2000 and Series 4000 diesel engines, which cover a power range from 760-4,000 hp. After its official opening in December 2010, the plant brought machining operations online soon after, allowing the facility to machine its own components on-site.
Investments at the facility over the years have resulted in the addition of the plant’s Research and Development Center, featuring test cells capable of conducting emissions calibration and certification testing, and an administration building. The plant has also grown to incorporate military propulsion systems, assembling and conducting complete overhauls of MTU Series 883 engines and power packs used in military applications. The next capability to be added, which is currently in the works, is remanufacturing and overhaul of engines for customers in the Americas.
Beyond manufacturing and operations, the past decade has also resulted in the award-winning MTU Aiken Youth Apprenticeship Program, which has been nationally recognized for its unique approach to bridging the manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. The program — which combines classroom instruction, hands-on training at a local career center, and on-the-job training at the plant — is designed to provide high school students with the opportunity to obtain industrial manufacturing work skills and earn a wage, while they learn. To date, 32 high school students have successfully completed the program to graduate high school with a diploma and a certificate in industrial mechanics.
Today, the MTU Aiken facility employs 265 people and represents a $100 million investment by Rolls-Royce.