B2B Portal for Technical and Commercial Foundry Management
Languages

Foundry Daily News

22. August 2019

US - General Motors factory in Saginaw forging ahead on 100th anniversary

US - General Motors factory in Saginaw forging ahead on 100th anniversary

The auto industry is one of the pillars of Michigan’s heritage. Today, one local General Motors factory in Saginaw is celebrating a century worth of history.


The Saginaw Metal Casting Operations at 1629 N. Washington Ave. marks its 100th anniversary this year.

The foundry originally focused on manufacturing castings made of iron. The Saginaw Metal Casting Operations poured its first iron casting in September 1919.

The first automated iron-pouring machine was installed in 1968, but some hot iron was still poured by hand for over a decade. All hand pouring ceased when the last manual conveyor was removed in 1982.

The company says the Saginaw facility saw peak employment of 6,846 workers in 1971. Approximately 1 million tons of iron were produced at this time. Today, the company says it employs 371 hourly workers and 105 salaried workers at the plant. Unionized workers are represented by UAW Local 668 and IAM Lodge 2839.

Throughout the years, the foundry has seen the various changes in automobile production as technology has progressed. The plant later started shifting away from iron to processing aluminum in the 1990s and early 2000s.

According to General Motors, aluminum entered the production process in 1995 and the last iron casting was poured on the plant on December 17, 2004.

The company said that the Saginaw plant has poured over 45 million tons of iron and 2 billion pounds of aluminum so far.

Products the foundry currently makes include V-6 engine blocks and heads for the Chevrolet Camaro and Colorado, Cadillac CT6 and XT5, GMC Acadia and Canyon. The foundry also makes castings for the Chevrolet Silverado LD front axle assembly.

The foundry has endured various historic and economic events in its lifetime, such as the Great Depression in the 1930s and the Great Recession of 2008. The Saginaw facility also played a vital role during events like World War II. Magnesium was poured for aircraft engines in the 1940s.

Walking into the foundry in the modern era is quite a different experience than it was even 50 years ago, according to employees. The foundry’s iron casting days meant that the facility was covered with thick clouds of sediment.

“It was so dirty in here, you couldn’t see that wall back there," motioned long-time employee Jimmy Hudson.

Nowadays, sleek robots chirp and whiz along as they pour aluminum castings. Workers no longer are covered and hidden by the dark particles from iron casting but instead navigate around clean and clearly marked aisles, walkways, and zones throughout the modernized plant floor.

“What you see out there, the yellow brick road, the stripes, it was nothing like that," employee Michael Ford said.

Throughout the years, one of General Motors’ main assets at the Saginaw Metal Casting Operations has been its employees. According to Communications Manager Kathryn Teer, the Saginaw plant has 14 employees who have worked 50 or more years at the facility.

Hudson has been employed at the Saginaw foundry for 52 years. He came to the plant in 1964 after inquiring with his uncle about a job at the plant. Two weeks later he got the job and has been working there ever since.

Hudson has more than just a background at General Motors; he says he’s also a musician who has played with greats like James Brown and Jimi Hendrix.

Hudson started off at the foundry as a janitor and progressed to working with melting down aluminum. In fact, Hudson is credited with helping save General Motors around $90,000 in costs by helping come up with a way to re-melt aluminum pieces in-house that used to be sent to an external site for processing.

Ford is another long-time employee. He started back in 1969 and worked on the line and the conveyors and now works to keep his coworkers safe in the safety department.

Throughout the years, both Hudson, Ford, and numerous other employees have been a part of the century long legacy of the Saginaw Metal Casting Operations plant.

“We’ve had great leadership here, and we’ve still got it," said Ford. “We’re still here as a foundry and we’re still here employing a lot of people, so that’s a good thing.”

Youtube Linkedin Xing