May 19, 2016 3:10 PM, EDT

Kenworth T680 and T880 Now Mainstays at Chillicothe Plant Undergoing Expansion

Roger W. Gilroy/TT

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio - Kenworth Truck Co.’s two latest models, the T680 and T880, launched in 2012 and 2013, respectively, now account for 90% of production at its manufacturing plant here, replacing earlier legacy models, said Kurt Swihart, director of marketing at Kenworth Truck Co.

At the same time, the plant has begun a $17-million addition of a parts management system and automated storage facility, the company said.

The new system will increase the plant’s efficiency by using technology to achieve rapid storage of painted parts, and faster delivery of those parts when needed on the assembly line, Kenworth said.

The new storage facility is being constructed atop the plant, which continues to operate and build trucks during day and night shifts.

Swihart spoke to reporters during a ride-and-drive event that included the latest configurations of the trucks and components, including a T880 40-inch sleeper tractor, a T680 52-inch mid-roof sleeper tractor that weighed about 14,200 with a partially filled fuel tank, the Allison 4700RDS seven-speed automatic transmission used in a T880 day cab with cement mixer body, as well as Paccar Inc.’s 10.8-liter MX-11 and 12.9-liter MX-13 engines.

Swihart said Paccar, the parent company of Kenworth as well as Peterbilt Motors Co., believes U.S. and Canadian retail sales this year will range from 220,000 to 250,000. That compares with 280,000 in 2015.

He said the year-end total could reach the “third-highest in the last 10 years.”

He cited several encouraging trends, including: a rise in tonnage, gains in the ISM index of supply chain activity, housing and construction starts “doing well”, 5% unemployment and crude oil climbing back up toward $50 a barrel.

Swihart said, “2016 is going to be a very good year for Kenworth.”

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