Skyjack is expanding its capacity by 235 per cent

A Skyjack employee rides a scissor lift

Skyjack is building an innovation hub in Ontario, while expanding its manufacturing footprint worldwide

Skyjack will establish an innovation hub at its headquarters in Guelph, Ontario, as the OEM expands its manufacturing capabilities around the world. 

At its P1 and P2 plants in Guelph, the innovation hub will allow Skyjack to increase its advanced engineering structure and coordinate the design and development of new machines. 

“The innovation hub gives us the resources we need to focus on product development to address industry trends such as sustainability, new applications that are coming out on machines every day, as well as the new technical integrations that we need to put into our machines,” said Skyjack President Ken McDougall.  

The hub will also make more floor space available to test new machines designed by the Skyjack team. 

“It doesn’t matter how many things we design, if we don’t have the space to test them, we can only do two or three projects at once,” said Kurt Atchison, Skyjack’s General Manager of Plant 2 in Guelph.

“But this will allow us to do more in parallel. So, we’ll be able to innovate a little bit quicker.” 

As part of Skyjack’s innovation hub, the company has established an advanced engineering team. 

“It is kind of a precursor that does new technology and advanced validation prior to going into new product development, which would be integrated into a machine,” Atchison said.   

Global manufacturing

To create space at its Guelph facilities, Skyjack is moving production of telehandlers and booms to its new plant in Mexico, as well as reconfiguring its Canadian facilities. 

Skyjack’s Mexican plant has two phases. Phase 1 includes an 18,580 square-metre plant for telehandlers and booms, with the focus of production aimed at the Americas region. In January, the first telehandler was produced at the Mexico facility. 

Phase two, which has already been initiated, will see an additional 45,500 square-metres of space. 

The Mexico facility is part of a major transformation of Skyjack’s global manufacturing structure. Alongside Mexico, the company began expansion into Hungary and China in 2022. 

In China, the first units rolled off the production line in September, marking the completion of Phase 1, which saw the use of a 3,250 square-metre facility via a partnership with Skyjack’s parent company Linamar.

In October, Phase 2 was launched with a ground-breaking ceremony for the development of a 27,160 square metre greenfield facility. With production expected to begin in the third quarter, the plant’s production will focus on DC scissors and booms with output supplying the Asia-Pacific and Australian regions. 

“We have had our eye on the Chinese market for some time. The key to success here is the ability to commit to the region and in-turn that means an in-market manufacturing presence,” McDougall said.

“We have been lucky enough to benefit from our parent company’s existing infrastructure in the short term and we are now focused on building up sales and distribution networks.” 

In Hungary, production of the new SJ45 AJ and SJ60 AJ articulating booms began in October. The 10,500 square-metre facility will supply articulating booms, telescopic booms, DC and compact RT scissors to Europe.

Combined, the new facilities represent a potential global unit capacity increase of 235 per cent. 

“2022 was a busy year and it is great to see how our global team achieved so much so quickly,” McDougall said. “2023 will be even more exciting as this capacity comes on stream. This, and some exciting new products later in 2023, will make it a memorable year.”

In-sourcing at Skyjack

Opening new facilities has also enabled Skyjack to increase fabrication and vertical integration at its Canadian plants. Supply chain constraints triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged Skyjack to begin fabricating its own components in-house and reduce reliance on a network of suppliers. 

“After COVID, we had a lot of struggles getting our supply chain back up and running. So, I guess we want to be masters of our own destiny, and make everything in-house that we can,” said Wayne Decker General Manager of P1.

“So now with the extra plants globally, it’s actually freeing up more space in the plants to do more value-added work back in house.”

Aiding recruitment

Furthermore, the transition will equal improved working conditions at the Guelph plants. With more floor space available, Skyjack is improving ergonomics and legroom on its production lines, as well as improving manufacturing efficiency.

“Really, what we needed to do was make some room. So, moving our telehandlers has started a cascading effect that will go on through all of this year and into the next,” McDougall said.

A less crowded and more ergonomic line will also assist Skyjack with recruitment efforts in Guelph. 

“We’re trying to make it as good an environment as (employees) can have. So, we have some room to do that,” McDougall said. “And that’s what we’re focusing on that as we move our lines around.”