Milwaukee, Wisc./Norman, Okla. April 17, 2019 — Johnson Controls executives welcomed media guests and local and state officials to the ribbon-cutting of JCI's state-of-the-art Rooftop Center of Excellence design, manufacturing and testing facility, during a grand opening event in Norman, Okla.
The Center is an addition to the facility that has been operating in Norman for nearly 50 years, and which will now serve as the flagship location for industry research, manufacturing and testing of Johnson Controls HVAC rooftop units. The 900,000-sq.ft. facility includes almost 400,000 sq.ft. of incremental laboratory and manufacturing space and renovations to over 150,000 sq.ft. of office and meeting space. The facility will serve as the flagship location for Johnson Controls HVAC rooftop units.
“Investing in the future of rooftop unit innovation in design and manufacturing is an investment in our customers,” said Steve Maddox, Vice President of Engineering, Commercial Ducted Systems, Johnson Controls. “The expertise of the people leading this facility increases our speed to market, provides unmatched quality assurance and supports the development of industry-leading, energy efficient technology.”
The plant includes a two-story, 52-ft. high testing lab roughly the size of one-and-a-half football fields. The extensive laboratory offers an environment that allows Johnson Controls to conduct on-site, complex development, regulatory compliance, performance, safety, and reliability testing including the ability to test a 150 ton rooftop unit in climates ranging from -30F to 130F.
“The need for high-efficiency rooftop units has grown as customers demand simplified solutions to achieving sustainability,” said Philip Smyth, Director of Product Management, Applied DX, Johnson Controls. “The combined testing and manufacturing location allows us to better serve our customers while enhancing HVAC technology through collaboration and innovation.”
In an address to plant employees, Matthew Shaub, Vice President/General Manager, Commercial Ducted Systems, said the event was a celebration of the coming together of JCI's commercial ducted systems business as one team, which began 16 months ago with the integration of JCI's legacy Unitary Products Group and applied DX businesses.
"What started as an organizational realignment has matured, and is now launching as an official natural business unit — our commercial ducted systems business, one team spanning multiple campuses," Shaub said. Those locations are in Norman, Okla.; York, Pa.; Ajax, Ontario, Canada; and Pune, India.
"The second important characteristic of today is commemorating and dedicating this fantastic center. Nowhere in the industry are there facilities with the capabilities, leadership and commitment to quality you have right here. This is a special place. It marks our commitment to winning in the single largest commercial category in North America," Shaub added.
Production lines were halted for the ceremony, and manufacturing employees joined the proceedings. Schaub told facility employees the slogan to describe the event —"Committed Together" — represents a commitment to winning in the marketplace.
"Which accounts for the investment you see around you. We can't win without investing at scale, bringing forward the absolute best products, hiring the best talent, leading with quality, hitting our lead times, everything you're doing everyday to serve our customers, to win with them in every capacity," Shaub said. "It takes all of that to win in this game, and a commitment to investing in this market, with what you see around here, is the key enabler for you to do what you do, every day. And it's also a commitment to one another. And the word 'together' means every single commercial employee around the world, in every department, working together to achieve the result."
Liz Haggerty, Vice President and General Manager for Ducted Systems, told the audience that the track record of the Norman, Okla. employees was a major reason Bill Jackson agreed to approve funding for the Center.
"That includes a relentless focus on quality, on productivity improvement, on meeting customer needs and exceeding customer expectations," Haggerty said. "It really gave us a sense of security and comfort, that we could make this investment and that the team here in Norman would deliver. And it is so exciting to be here today to see the delivery of this facility. That commitment wouldn't have been possible without all of you in this room, and everyone around the globe who supports the commercial ducted systems organization.
"Expectations are high, and I have the utmost confidence that you will continue to deliver on quality, productivity and meeting and exceeding customers' expectations," Haggerty continued.
Haggerty also thanked state and local dignitaries in attendance:
- J. Kevin Stitt, Governor of Oklahoma
- U.S. Congressman Tom Cole
- Jared Ward, field representative, standing in for Senator James Inhoff
- Brent Kisling, executive director, Oklahoma Department of Commerce
- Martin Roberts, director, business development, for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Haggerty said the Center addition had received the Oklahoma Economic Development Pooled Finance Incentive Award.
"That means we were selected to be able to receive state funding to support this project, because we are bringing jobs to the local economy, and better tax revenue to the state. This was instrumental in our being able to pull the entire investment together and make it possible for us to do this in Norman," Haggerty said.
Bill Jackson, President, Global Products, Building Technologies & Solutions, said the Center for Rooftop Excellence represents everything JCI represents: team, commitment to people, leadership, community, commitment to excellence, sustainability, innovation, and growth.
"This Norman facility is a microcosm of all that we're trying to do at Johnson Controls. We see the teams come together globally, on an engineering basis. It culminates in a spectacular set of designs and products that are innovative, creative, unique, all coming down the production line according to the details that need to be followed in order to be excellent.
"These are complicated systems, and our manufacturing facilities represent the commitment to manufacturing excellence," Jackson said.
In conclusion, Jackson said JCI products will be the most sustainable, with unique controls systems, machine learning, and the ability to modify partial loads.
"Ultimately, we will grow because of this — as a business and as a community."
Kevin Pollard, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations, said the new addition piggybacks on many additional improvements made to facility productivity over the past eight years.
"In 2011, we had some significant challenges facing us in various key performance indicators: safety, quality, productivity, cost, delivery. Productivity had deteriorated by 11% and that was a reflection of inefficiencies. We drew a line in the sand. We moved residential package production to Wichita, and went on from there," Pollard said.
Pollard reported that productivity at the entire facility is now approaching 90%.
"This is a tribute to everybody who has been a part of the revitalization. This expansion is a testament to all your hard work and effort. We appreciate everything you've done," Pollard said.
Vicki Davis, Ducted Systems Plant Manager, told facility employees about the many challenges that the teams faced head-on, to make changes and drive improvement, to show Johnson Controls that the Norman facility was the right location for them to make this investment in and continue to grow the Norman campus.
"This year, we have had a 39% increase in productivity, a 7% increase in quality, and a 10% reduction in energy use. We've taken our machine utilization, and created sheet metal and coils center of excellence, which has driven our machine utilization up by 60%," Davis said.
"All the metrics we looked at and all the changes we made not only drove us to this moment, but also drove us to the award that I was honored to accept several weeks ago, when the Norman facility was named an Industry Week 'Best Plant of 2018.' We could not have received this award without the dedication of all of our employees."
To learn more Johnson Controls rooftop units, click HERE.
Ed. Note: A previous version of this story contained a misspelling of Matthew Shaub's last name. We apologize for the error.