The first major machinery destined for Kia Motors’ West Point manufacturing plant arrived in the United States this week when the ship M/V Leopold Stuffs coasted into the Port of Savannah carrying more than 3,500 tons of automobile-making equipment.
Over the next few weeks, the equipment will be transported from Savannah to Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc.’s $1.2 billion facility, which is under construction in West Point. There it will be assembled into two large presses that will be used to form various panels for Kia vehicles. Some of the larger pieces weigh up to 125 tons and require special arrangements for its transportation across Georgia.
“This is a great example of how Georgia’s strengths enable our successes in economic development,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “From our ports to our highways to QuickStart’s workforce training, Georgia has all the advantages that global companies look for in a place to create new jobs and new investment.”
With Kia’s planned 2,500 jobs and $1.2 billion investment, the economic impact of the project on West Georgia and the state is continuing to grow. Automotive suppliers who have announced their intent to locate in the region as a result of Kia’s presence will bring the total job creation number to more than 6,000.
“The arrival of these presses inside the state of Georgia is another huge step for Kia as we get closer to going into production in West Point,” said Randy Jackson, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc.’s (KMMG) director of human resources and administration. “It takes quite an effort between Kia and various state agencies to coordinate the transport of such a large shipment, but Georgia’s ability to facilitate such an effort is one of the main reasons we’re here.”
Jackson praised the collaboration among the various agencies for making this significant achievement possible. The overall project is spearheaded by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The Georgia Ports Authority’s (GPA) capabilities for receiving and handling such large pieces of cargo, combined with the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) engineering know-how for determining a secure route and monitoring safety requirements enable the equipment to make the final leg of a journey that has already taken it 15,000 miles from its origin in Masan, Korea. Quick Start, Georgia’s workforce training program which is part of the Technical College System of Georgia, closes the loop by helping to prepare Kia’s team members for operation of the assembly equipment.
"Kia is an important customer for the GPA and this recent shipment is another example of that partnership," said Doug J. Marchand, Executive Director of the GPA. "We look forward to working with Kia for many years to come."
The shipment left Masan, Korea, August 12 on the Leopold Staffs and has since navigated across the Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal, across the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida and up the coast to the Port of Savannah. Aerocosta Global Systems of New York coordinated the ship’s operations.
Once the equipment is unloaded from the ship, the items will be transported another 300 miles to KMMG in West Point in 128 separate loads. The company Guy M. Turner, Inc. of North Carolina will transport the pieces from the Port of Savannah to West Point, using a fleet of trucks that include dual-lane trailers and a specialized 19-axle truck for the largest pieces of the presses.
The equipment will be assembled by the company Rotem, its manufacturer, into a transfer press and a blanking press. The transfer press will use its capability for 5,400 tons of pressure to stamp steel into 17 different types of vehicle panels for the next generation Sorento, including its hood, doors and fenders. The blanking press will use 600 tons of pressure to cut steel “blanks” which will be shaped by the stamping press.
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