Oatey’s Cherne Relocates

Cherne has relocated headquarters and manufacturing to a new state-of-the-art, 130,000-square-foot production facility in Shakopee, Minnesota.

Cherne Industries, part of the Oatey Co. family of brands, recently completed a historic move of its headquarters and manufacturing operations — its first in more than 60 years — to a newly constructed, 130,000-square-foot facility located in Shakopee, Minnesota. The new facility is situated just twenty-five miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis.

 

Many new capabilities, all under one roof.

Opened in March, the manufacturing portion of the new headquarters was built to Cherne’s exacting specifications by the OPUS Group. Management sought to more fully integrate all its operations under one roof. Manufacturing capabilities include automated robotic manufacturing of pneumatic pipe plugs, mechanical pipe plugs and testing equipment. The facility also houses a new research and development laboratory equipped for product testing. An in-house machine shop enables making essential tooling on premises, rather than depending upon outside sources. The new location also houses extensive customer training facilities.

In addition, the new building contains ample storage space for raw materials and finished product, so that Cherne no longer relies on outside warehousing for storage and shipping. The resulting, more efficient material flows have already cut lead times and increased operating efficiencies since the move.

“Cherne has been growing at a double-digit pace for the past seven years,” says General Manager and seven-year company veteran David Biron, explaining why the former, 66,000-square-foot facility in nearby Edina was no longer suitable. “We had acquired some robotic equipment and other automation components in recent years, but as the business grew, we simply ran out of space.

“The R&D and testing operations demonstrate Cherne’s newly fortified capabilities as we maintain world class, industry-leading new-product development that provide the safest, most productive value-added solutions for our end users,” Biron continues. Cherne can now test its entire production on premises, instead of relying on outside facilities, as had sometimes been the case in the past.

“The old building did not offer a setting large enough — and therefore safe enough — to test larger plugs and testing equipment, which expand up to 120 inches,” says Biron. “No other plug maker can offer as comprehensive or as safe a testing facility as what we’ve built in Shakopee.”

The new training facilities are a significant upgrade as well. Shakopee sits over a specially installed, underground network of 24-inch and 12-inch pipes that are 300-feet long and accessible through two manholes. The training facilities simulate an actual job site. Visiting customers enjoy a hands-on learning experience, installing actual plugs and testing a simulated pipeline.

Biron notes, “We can install and remove plugs and testing equipment, create leaks and allow trainees to test, locate and repair them — just as they would in the field.”

 

Robotics enable manufacturing of safer, longer-lasting plugs.

The most impactful upgrade with the new Shakopee operation is the inclusion of a pair of automated robots for producing Cherne’s industry-first and industry-leading offering of pneumatic plugs. The robotic technology creates a mechanical bond to more securely join the plug’s aluminum end plate to its premium natural-rubber core.

The result is more precise and consistent fabrication, from plug to plug, minimizing field failures sometimes found with the manual, chemical-bonding connection process long used by other manufacturers. Cherne’s robotic-made plugs are a significant industry advancement, offering best-in-class safety, durability, and premium performance.

“No other North American manufacturer is building plugs with one robot, let alone two,” says Biron. “Other producers still assemble them by hand, as they have been for decades. This entire facility demonstrates the enduring strength of the Cherne brand and why a customer can be comfortable buying and installing plugs and related piping products from us.”

Cherne Industries

Cherne, part of the Oatey Co. family of brands, has relocated their headquarters and manufacturing to a new state-of-the-art, 130,000-square-foot production facility in Shakopee, Minnesota.

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