Siemens employees used to have a 13-mile drive between the company’s tooling facility in New Kensington and Arnold and its service and development center in Monroeville as they coordinated service orders for clients in the power generation industry.
Now, those workers are under one roof, at Siemens’ new Pittsburgh Service Center in East Huntingdon. Company officials on Wednesday marked the grand opening of the $32 million facility at the RIDC Westmoreland business park.
“It allows us to collaborate better, consolidating our engineering resources and tooling operations under one roof,” said Kip Madeira, director of Siemens Energy at the service center. Before, he said, “We had the people who decided how the work would be done and the people who put the tools together, separate.”
The new center is staffed by about 150 existing employees, including 52 who moved from the New Kensington plant and close to 100 who transferred from the Penn Hall center in Monroeville. The number of workers jumps to 390 when including field personnel, Madeira said.
Tool kits of various equipment and parts are prepared at and shipped from the East Huntingdon center to job sites across the country and in other nations. The majority of the center’s tasks involve maintaining, repairing, modifying and modernizing generators and turbines used in power generation, operations manager Andy Davis explained.
Given the large size of the equipment being serviced, “Our toolboxes can be very big,” Davis said.
That’s why the center has a fork truck capable of moving 36,000 pounds. It also has mobile machine shops that can turn out custom tools and parts.
“Some of the stuff that we need, you just can’t go to Lowe’s and buy, so we have to manufacture it ourselves,” Davis said.
Beginning in midsummer, the company required 400 truckloads to shift equipment and materials to the new plant from the two sites it replaced.
The nearly 300,000 square feet Siemens occupies at the RIDC site includes a portion of the former Sony television plant that was opened up from two floors to one and 62,000 square feet of newly constructed space. The new plant offers improved efficiency but it also more compact than the 500,000 combined square feet at the two former sites.
The answer, Davis explained, is focusing on vertical storage. One area of the plant features seven towers, each with up to 50 movable shelves that can be called forth to surrender its contents with a digital entry.
When it came time for Siemens to look for a better location for its area generator service facilities, “We studied other places around Pittsburgh, other places around Pennsylvania and other states,” said Rick Mould , head of power generation services for North America, Siemens. “At the end of the day, it became very clear that we wanted to stay in Pittsburgh. It’s not just because of the talent here. Our heritage is here in the Pittsburgh area.”
Siemens has a 15-year lease on the new site.
“The (Regional Industrial Development Corporation) worked with us very closely to adapt this facility to what we need it to be,” said Madeira. “The geographic location relative to transportation is also positive.”
Interstate 70 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike are nearby.
Siemens also is next door to Westmoreland County Community College’s Advanced Technology Center. It has collaborated with the center to create an apprenticeship program for machining and welding students and has hired several students.
“Siemens is one of of our region’s great business assets, helping to fuel economic development and growth of the Westmoreland community,” said Donald Smith Jr., president of RIDC. “By developing programs with WCCC – which is also an anchor presence on this campus – Siemens is demonstrating the value the Advanced Technology Center can provide to employers while building a highly skilled local workforce.”
The move to the East Huntingdon business park reduces Siemens Western Pennsylvania footprint to 12 sites, including a facility in the Westmoreland Business & Research Park in Upper Burrell and Washington Township, an automated rail factory in Munhall and East Pittsburgh and health care offices in Green Tree and Pittsburgh.
Siemens Corporation is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global company that is a leading supplier of systems for power generation and transmission as well as medical diagnosis. Employing about 377,000 people in 190 countries, it reported worldwide revenue of $92 billion in 2017.
Siemens pulled in revenue of $23.3 billion in the United States. Its payroll includes about 50,000 people in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can
contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.