Over 40 cranes and hoists were installed in GILLIG LLC’s new Livermore, CA facility as the bus manufacturer recently completed its relocation from Hayward to the Oaks Business Park. The newly constructed, custom-designed, 600,000 square foot site continues the company’s 128-year tradition of manufacturing in the San Francisco Bay area.

The hoists, manufactured by R&M Materials Handling Inc., were supplied by their Master Distributor CraneTech Inc., which worked closely with GILLIG’s design team to provide comprehensive material handling coverage of an approximately 500,000 square foot manufacturing facility where completed heavy-duty transit vehicles roll off the production line having started as small parts.

From initial design to final assembly, each GILLIG bus is built to customers’ specifications; models are 29, 35, or 40 feet long. The vehicles incorporate a broad range of drive systems, including clean diesel, compressed natural gas, diesel-electric hybrid, and zero-emission battery-electric versions. It’s a manufacturing process that relies heavily on crane and material handling systems that range in capacity up to 10 tons.

Robert Murillo, manufacturing engineering manager at GILLIG, said, “Relocating and starting a greenfield project was a new experience for the team—but one that we approached with determination. We started with a blank canvas and had an opportunity to work with architects, engineers, crane professionals, and other specialists in their fields to create a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility serviced by overhead lifting technologies, selected for the material handling needs of each particular production process. We had an existing relationship [with CraneTech] but we looked at a myriad of options and conducted site visits and tours to ensure we chose the best crane partner.”

Murillo explained that due to production demands, the existing Hayward site had to remain fully operational during the construction process. GILLIG couldn’t endure any downtime once it was time to start installing equipment. Thus, it wasn’t an option to relocate material handling or other equipment. Further, the new manufacturing facility is more than double the size of the approx. 200,000 sq. ft. shop floor in Hayward, which has since ceased operation.

The new facility boasts 15 separate crane bays, ranging from 20 feet  to 100 feet wide and 100 feet to 1,150 feet long, in addition to areas serviced by a number of jib cranes. CraneTech supplied R&M’s Spacemaster® SX wire rope hoists (ranging from 1 - 10 ton capacities) and their LK electric chain hoists (ranging from ¼ - 2 ton capacities). The hoists were chosen for reliability, flexibility of options, efficiency of operation, and availability of parts, should future maintenance requirements arise.

Jim Stewart, CEO at CraneTech Inc., said, “Initially, we were working from a spreadsheet. As the project got closer we attended a number of meetings to extend the scope to include workstation cranes and fall arrest systems. The sheer volume of equipment we were required to provide, coupled with orchestration of simultaneous installation made the Livermore project hugely challenging but extremely rewarding.”

CraneTech essentially supplied everything from the load hook upwards, while GILLIG provided lifting attachments and tooling required for rigging or manipulation of loads below-the-hook. Murillo explained that the material handling equipment is used for the duration of the daily production cycle, which sees buses move through the building as they take shape from chassis components and welded parts to finished vehicles, complete with tires and engines.

Murillo said, “The cranes have performed well in line with our high expectations since production started at the new site. Our production facility has to demonstrate great versatility as we manufacture only to order and our customers can require anything from a single bus to a brand new fleet; this is a high quality manufacturing environment that produces renowned, custom products.”

Derek Maunus, president of GILLIG, said, “Our new facility and the quality of buses built here represent a world-class operation that underscores our commitment to both our customers and our employees. We are investing in the GILLIG team, the Bay area, and creating strong, stable U.S. manufacturing jobs.”