Lee Fellers is controller at the plant and says the grids are an essential part of the automotive batteries, which are made elsewhere by the company.
“The PowerFrame grid is the lead grid that goes inside a car battery, or rather an automotive battery, that really provides most of the power to the battery,” Fellers says. “The grids that we make here is a process that was pioneered by Johnson Controls about 13 years ago, for this plant when this plant opened up.”
Fellers says company officials recently discovered the Red Oak facility was nearing the landmark.
“We keep track of what we produce constantly,” Fellers says, “and we keep track over time how we’re doing production-wise. So, we’ve just been monitoring this. A few months ago, we realized we were going to be hitting 15-billion grids for this plant very soon. So, we really started dialing in and figuring out when this would happen and were able to identify the grid as it came off the line the other day.”
He says it’s a big occasion because you don’t often see that type of number in most manufacturing settings. Fellers says the milestone is a testament to the company’s production process, as well as its workers.
“We’ve got good engineering staff, good quality staff, great operators that really understand our equipment, understand what we’re all about and what we’re trying to achieve in producing these grips for automotive batteries,” Fellers says. “So, it really comes down a lot to the people and the dedication they’ve shown to making a good quality product while continuously improving our ability to output in higher quantities and increasing quality.”
Company officials say the PowerFrame grid is 66% more durable and more corrosion-resistant than other grid designs and provides 70% better electrical flow and other grid technologies. The grid’s manufacturing process also uses 20% less energy and produces 20% fewer greenhouse gases than other manufacturing methods.
Opened in 2003, Johnson Controls’ Red Oak operations currently employees 60 people.
By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah