A green field site in Monee Illinois is the location of a new manufacturing facility and corporate offices now under construction for Whiting Corporation, one of the USA’s longest established crane builders. Structural steelwork, precast concrete walls and heavy-duty steel rails for overhead cranes are all in place. And at the beginning of June four new 40 US ton capacity overhead cranes were installed. These cranes had been built by Whiting at its facility in Harvey Illinois, where the company has been based for 106 years.

These new cranes will be used by the company to help build yet more cranes.

JH Whiting founded the Detroit Foundry Equipment Company in 1884 in Detroit, Michigan. At the outset the company was dedicated to providing the foundry industry with high quality metal working and material handling equipment.

The company moved to Harvey Illinois in 1892, and in 1898 Whiting designed and built his first-three motor crane. The renamed Whiting Foundry Equipment Company soon became a leader in the design and manufacture of overhead cranes and material handling equipment. Whiting is a founding member of the Crane Manufacturers’ Association of America, the EOT crane manufacturers’ trade association, and it remains active in the association.

The company offers cranes with capacities ranging from 5 US ton through to 800 US ton which can be designed for either cab, floor, or remote control operation. It also offers maintenance and modernisation services.

As well as cranes, the company is still active today in the supply of transport maintenance equipment. In the early days of the 20th century JH Whiting took his overhead travelling bridge crane production line into the railway industry, supplying the heavy repair shops. Today the railway and mass transit sectors are supplied with such products as drop tables, turntables, transfer tables, vehicle body supports, traction motor dollies, portable electric jacks, and car and truck hoists.

Whiting’s facility in Harvey covers a 7.7ha area, with 27,000m2 of covered manufacturing space. The new plant in Monee is on a 9.3ha site just off Interstate 57. The layout is designed to allow for future expansions, but the new building will initially cover 17,800m2. Of this total, 15,100m2 will be devoted to manufacturing and 2,700m2 will be for corporate offices. The new facility is, of course, designed to be state of the art.

There are also other developments afoot at Whiting. The company has completed its registration audit for TE 9000, a supplement to ISO certification specifically for tooling and equipment manufacturers. The engineering department is having its computer system upgraded to AutoCAD 2000. Principles of ‘lean manufacturing’ are being implemented. And there are ‘realignments of Whiting personnel to leverage their years of specialised product-application experience through action-oriented teams’ – whatever that means.

“While the Whiting name has been long respected in the industry and by our customer base, we are taking these dramatic steps to ensure that we are at the forefront in our abilities to meet the individual needs of each of our customers, faster and more cost effectively both today and into the future,” says president and CEO Jeffrey Kahn. “Continuous improvement must be part of a company’s culture for it to succeed in this fast changing world.”