Amid local and international dignitaries, equipment dealers and employees, Hensley Industries celebrated the grand opening of a 40,000-square-foot expansion of their foundry in Dallas, where the manufacturer will produce their line of ground engaging tools (G.E.T.) for the mining market.
"They could have built anywhere in the country, but they chose Dallas," commented Paul Rudd, general manager of manufacturing. "Komatsu and Hensley jointly decided to put the foundry here because it's such an integrated company. We have highly qualified foundry workers — some of the best in the industry, design engineers and sales representatives."
During the November ceremony, Komatsu Ltd.'s President Kunio Noji added another reason for the Dallas choice, "Hensley's ability to respond quickly to customers' design needs."
The Sinto mold handling equipment was shipped from Japan, while the main molding machine came from the German factory, Heinrich Wagner Sinto. SMS (Sand Mold Systems) was the general contractor for the facility.
One of the goals of this foundry is to be environmentally friendly. The majority of the smoke created during tapping and pouring is collected by overhead vent hoods within the contained building. Two 75,000-cfm dust collectors extract fine particulates from the air before returning it into the atmosphere clean.
Due to the market push for tighter fittings and clean-looking castings, many of the HX patterns are made on CNC machinery. Two sets of bolsters will allow the Hensley team to make pattern changes in less than two minutes of downtime.
Each mold holds approximately 1 ton of "green sand," which is a precise mix consisting of silica sand, bentonite clay, water, and corn flour cereal. In this case, "green" means that the sand is not baked. All sand is reused. Computer controls continually test the sand mix for consistency and self-correct.
The Hensley Industries foundry in Dallas is the company's largest manufacturing plant, employing over 500 workers. The workers chosen to staff the new foundry are being hand-picked from the most qualified workers in the older Dallas facility, where they manufacture G.E.T. primarily for the construction industry.
The new fully automated, state-of-the-art facility will allow Hensley to reduce labor to 11 positions per shift for the larger G.E.T. yet produce one mold per minute. The molding line itself will be manned by only six operators. The plant has begun operation with only one shift, but plans to expand to two shifts in the near future.
Hensley was established in California in 1947 and moved to Dallas in 1963. Hensley Attachments in Mansfield, Texas, manufactures buckets for construction excavators and quarry rock loaders. In 2000, Hensley joined the Komatsu Group.
Hensley Industries has created a market niche in large, high-strength castings that are less labor-intensive, according to Rudd, who concluded, "This [new foundry] means we're going to be here for a long time."