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Freightliner Trucks: Product Design and 1,000 More Jobs


Across North America, hundreds of older, inefficient trucks are coming off the highways. Taking their place are state-of-the-art, aerodynamic, fuel-efficient rigs, many of which are manufactured at the Freightliner plant in Cleveland, North Carolina.

Freightliner has been making trucks at the site for more than 20 years. During the deep recession in 2009, production and employment there were scaled back. But January 2012 brought far more encouraging news, as Freightliner’s parent company – Daimler Trucks North America – added a second shift. The move brings back 1,000 production jobs, plus several dozen engineer and manager positions. That is on top of the roughly 1,470 employees currently working there.

Part of the catalyst for Daimler’s decision is cyclical, with production moving back to post-recession norms. But another reason Daimler needs to add the second shift is the enormous demand for Freightliner’s Cascadia cab. When Freightliner set out to design Cascadia it started from scratch. It analyzed their own rigs and those of competitors, and interviewed scores of professional drivers. They tested their prototype extensively in wind tunnel and simulated accident settings. The finished product is a cab that is wider and taller than standard trucks, with highly responsive steering and superb visibility. It provides drivers with a level of comfort usually reserved for fine automobiles. Yet, the Cascadia is also a lighter-weight and highly aerodynamic product, which reduces its operational costs. Moreover, the assembly line uses 70 different advanced robots, ensuring consistency on each vehicle.  

This combination of superior product design and advanced assembly makes for satisfied customers, more jobs, and another Great Manufacturing Story.