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Link-Belt Construction Equipment Co.

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Link-Belt Construction Equipment Co. designs, manufactures, and sells telescopic and lattice boom cranes  Over the course of more than 100 years in the business, this company has become a leader in the crane industry.[1] Its 500,000 square foot (46,451 m2) core manufacturing facility is based in Lexington, Kentucky.

This company operates under the "lean manufacturing philosophy." [2]This philosophy, first popularized by Toyota, is based on an assembly-line production system that eliminates waste and shortens the wait period between a customer's order and product shipment.


[edit] History

The name Link-Belt is derived from a development by a farm implement dealer in the late 19th century. William Dana Ewart of Belle Plaine, Iowa, felt that the design of harvester belts could be greatly improved. At the time, harvesting machines had continuous chain belts that would eventually wear out and break. Once the chain had broken in one spot, the entire belt would need to be removed and sent to a repair shop; harvesting would be delayed for lengthy periods of time.

In consideration of a more efficient process, Ewart set out to develop a "linked belt" - literally, a harvester belt with detachable links. The idea was to be able to remove a broken link on the belt and fix it on the spot. On September 1, 1874, Ewart got a patent for an "improvement in drive-chain," allowing his development to take shape.

Six years after Ewart acquired his patent, he founded Link-Belt Machinery Co.; in 1888, Link-Belt Engineering Co. was created.

[edit] The First Cranes

A major development for the Link-Belt companies was the introduction of the first wide-gauge steam powered coal-handling clamshell crane. This crane was the predecessor to current Link-Belt machines. Beginning around 1900, roughly a decade after the unveiling of the of the clamshell crane, lighter, more versatile locomotive cranes began to replace the heavier early models.

[edit] Consolidation and Growth

1906 saw the consolidation of Link-Belt Machinery and Link-Belt Engineering companies to form the Link-Belt Co. The company continued to grow, resulting in the introduction of new product lines and other progressive designs.

[edit] New Designs

In addition to material-handling equipment and locomotive cranes, the Link-Belt Co. began offering a full line of crawler-mounted crane shovels. This new product line proved to be very successful for the company, [3] growing into a more extensive line by the 1930s. New developments continued to propel the company into further growth. In 1936, Link-Belt introduced the Power hydraulic control, or Speed-O-Matic, gaining popularity and securing a place among the industry standards. [4]

[edit] Link-Belt-Speeder Merger

In the midst of its growth, Link-Belt decided to acquire the Speeder Machinery Corp. to form the Link-Belt Speeder Corp. By combining their cranes with Speeder's smaller models, this subsidiary of the Link-Belt Co. was able to offer a complete new product line. This merger remained beneficial for the next three decades. Most notable was the company's development of the LS-98 crane in 1954. This particular model continued to be manufactured for 42 years, and resulted in over 7,000 machines.[5]

[edit] Link-Belt-FMC Merger

An important merger took place in 1967 with FMC Corp.'s acquisition of the Link-Belt Co. Due to this acquisition, the Link-Belt Speeder Corp. became the Construction Equipment Group of FMC Corp. Link-Belt construction equipment products continued to be marketed by the new company. FMC led the company into massive expansion, including growth in manufacturing facilities and product lines. This growth rate remained steady until the dawn of the economic hardships of the 1980s.

[edit] FMC-Sumitomo Merger

In 1986, a partnership between FMC Corp. and Sumitomo Heavy Industries was made formal; unofficially, the two companies had worked in conjunction since 1962. This new collaboration resulted in the creation of the Link-Belt Construction Equipment Co. The company was in operation for 12 years before deciding to reorganize and focus solely on cranes.

[edit] LBX Co.

With the decision to focus on the crane industry came a new joint venture: The LBX Co. Formed to sell the Link-Belt excavators that had been spun off of the Link-Belt product line, this new company arose from the collaboration of Sumitomo Construction Machinery Co. and Case Corp.

[edit] The Company Today

Link-Belt Construction Equipment, headed by President and CEO Chuck Martz, has seen major growth over the last decade. This wholly owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Heavy Industries invests heavily in university coursework as well as in-house training for its employees to remain at the forefront of the crane industry.

[edit] Equipment List

[edit] References

  1. About Linkbelt. Linkbelt. 2008-09-09.
  2. Definition. Searchio. 2008-09-09.
  3. About Linkbelt. Linkbelt. 2008-09-09.
  4. About Linkbelt. Linkbelt. 2008-09-09.
  5. About Linkbelt. Linkbelt. 2008-09-09.

[edit] External Links