CARROLLTON, Ga. — As part of its ongoing modernization efforts, Southwire has announced the installation of new medium voltage production technology at its manufacturing facility in Heflin, Ala. The upgrades are focused on increasing productivity and velocity, eliminating waste, and becoming leaner, which will set the Heflin Plant on course to becoming a world-class medium voltage facility.
The Heflin Plant was established in 1996 to increase the company’s medium voltage capacity, as well as high voltage production. It remained Southwire’s only facility devoted to high voltage production until the company purchased the Huntersville facility from ABB in 2015.
The modernization efforts involved increasing medium voltage production at the facility through the expansion of the Continuous Vulcanization (CV) tower. This expansion allowed for the implementation of four CV lines, a Jacket line and a Test Set. These upgrades allow greater flexibility to extrude both cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) and ethylene propylene rubber (EPR) insulation for medium voltage products at the Heflin Plant.
“In 2018, funding was approved to modernize and streamline this site for medium voltage production,” said Scott Roulaine, director of Modernization. “This optimization will improve material flow, reduce raw material handling and modernize aging assets.”
Roulaine worked alongside David McLendon, plant manager, and Emory Barber, VP of Engineering, to complete the Heflin modernization effort. These investments and upgrades will effectively streamline Southwire’s medium voltage production efforts.
“In Heflin, as in any Southwire facility, our people are our greatest resource,” said McLendon. “They absolutely are the best in the business, and they have been doing a great job since we opened the doors here. This modernization effort will bring the technology up to their level, so they will have the right tools to utilize and to take us to a world-class medium voltage facility.”
To explain the significance and level of investment going into the tower expansion, the Heflin Plant’s leadership team held an informal ceremony with each shift during the week of May 9. All employees signed their name on the last structural beam in the tower addition installation as a testament to their work in making the expansion possible and a commitment to ensuring the success of the project.
Meanwhile, construction on Southwire’s new copper rod manufacturing plant in Carrollton, Ga. is progressing, and the project should be complete by late 2022. They broke ground in August 2021. The steel for the furnace bay and most of the equipment have arrived, and pipe work to connect the facility’s important systems continues. Most of the office areas have been covered in drywall, and both air conditioning and exterior concrete should be completed soon. The new facility will also feature a pedestrian bridge, which will allow for safer access to and from the building for its employees.
“Supply chain issues have slowed down the construction progress some, but our contractors have assured me that our planned commissioning time will be on schedule,” said Doug Teate, director of SCR Project Management. “The team is working very hard to achieve this goal.”
In 1981, Southwire started the operation of its current copper rod system in Carrollton, and four decades later, copper continues to be the primary source of metal for the company’s wire and cable operations.
The plant will contain an SCR-9000S Copper Rod System and utilize the company’s patented Southwire Continuous Rod (SCR®) technology, which transformed the wire and cable industry in the early 1960s and is still the preferred system around the world.
According to Will Berry, senior vice president of Engineering and Modernization, installing a state-of-the-art system with the latest technology that Southwire has developed communicates a commitment to innovation, and having two furnaces in the new Rod Plant — compared to just one in the existing facility — provides the organization with greater dependability and uptime.
“Replacing our current system, which is 40 years old, improves our business continuity and ensures the longevity of copper rod for Southwire,” said Berry. “It sends a message to the local community that we’re here for the long haul and provides an international showcase for SCR technology. We will be able to welcome customers from around the world and show them a safer, more automated system.”
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