PLANT

GM invests $600 million at Kansas plant

Investment will upgrade paint shop, purchases new stamping technologies, and reduce environmental footprint.


KANSAS CITY, Kan.—General Motors (GM) is investing $600-million at its Fairfax Assembly and Stamping Plant to build a new 450,000 square-foot paint shop, install a new stamping press and other upgrades.

It is one of GM’s largest plant investments ever, and builds on nearly $2 billion invested in Fairfax in the last decade. Earlier this month, GM announced it would invest $1.5 billion in North American facilities in 2013.

Construction at the 3.2-million-square-foot plant begins later this year and is expected to take about two years to complete, increasing the footprint of the plant by about 15% to 3.7 million-square-feet. Vehicle production schedules will be unaffected by the construction, keeping the plant’s three shifts of nearly 4,000 hourly and salaried employees on the job.

The all-new paint shop includes technology upgrades and will occupy a new building with new tooling, robots and environmental and efficiency enhancements.

Some of the upgrades include:

  • Up to 20% smaller footprint, up to 50% less energy use per vehicle and reduced Volatile Organic Compound emissions
  • GM-patented Radiant Tub Ovens that use 20% less natural gas and 40% less electricity
  • Thin Film Technology, which reduces water use and maintenance and eliminates hazardous chemicals from the waste stream
  • Hyper Throw E-COAT, which places more coating in cavities and recesses for optimal corrosion protection.

In the stamping facility, the upgraded AA3X press will replace the current middle press used to create some of the structural reinforcements for vehicle body frames. The upgraded press is expected to enhance quality and reduce waste through greater accuracy.

GM’s current Fairfax plant opened in 1987. Since beginning production in Kansas City in 1945, more than 12 million GM vehicles have been built at the plant.

The Fairfax plant currently builds the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu.

The facility currently employs 3,877 workers that manufactured more than 283,000 vehicles in 2012.