We were somewhere over the Atlantic on our way back to ORD when you read last week’s GSW e-newsletter. Since we couldn’t cover everything in one blog, here are a few more highlights of our trip to France to see TLD’s Taxibot demo:
Our trip started not much later than the time we arrived Sunday morning and made our way to the Sheraton, located at CDG. There, we met Fadi Anbouba, vice president of sales and service TLD America. Over espresso, Fadi told me more about TLD. Although TLD itself has been operating for the past 22 years, at least three of its former divisions, such as Ace, TRACMA and Lantis-Cochran, were true pioneers in GSE and began more than half century ago.
TLD makes 15 lines of equipment and more than 100 models, and operates six factories around the world including its Wuxi, China plant opened this year. Through manufacturing programs, called Ranger and Master, TLD assembles products in different facilities around the world, close to its customers’ operations while still maintaining quality control.
From the Sheraton, we took a train to the town of St Pierre de Corps for a tour of a tractor factory in Montlouis-sur-Loirre. The factory has been building tractors since 1953, including developing the first towbarless tractor and building the first Taxibot. In fact, the original TRACMA tractors were built here and the name was routinely used in French-speaking countries for “tractor.”
The factory employs 130 ranging from production to after-sales positions, and builds up to 250 conventional tractors and towbarless vehicles annually. It was after-hours on Sunday night so no one else was there. What we did see was work at various stages with the modular aspects of the vehicle’s clear to see. One thing that caught our eye was trays of various parts, each placed in a foam mold, precise to exactly how many would be needed to finish the assembly.
The factory’s hemmed in by a major highway to one side and railroad tracks on the other. As we mentioned last week, without much elbow room, the highway is closed to regular traffic from time to time so that every tractor can be tested. Another area within the factory grounds tests every towbarless tractor’s ability to lift through a series of hydraulics that replicate the weight of various planes. We did see the start of one Taxibot, but the company is currently building a factory in France just for that model.
Next week: The Taxibot demo, including pictures and video.