February 27, 2014
Anyone entering the City of Aiken Finance and Administration Building on Laurens Street from now on may notice something different about the lobby – specifically the 3,000-pound engine in the middle of it.
The engine was unveiled during a ceremony on Tuesday that included city officials, and is one of the first produced by MTU America Inc. in its Graniteville manufacturing facility.
The Graniteville facility opened in 2010 in the former SKF plant.
“These are our first engines in Aiken County, and the engines that we train on,” Vice President of North American Operations Joerg Klisch said on Tuesday. “We cannot just throw them away. There needs to be a public place where we can actually put our heritage and the rebirth of manufacturing in Aiken County so everybody can see it.”
The engine on display downtown is a “cut away” model that helps explain to people what happens inside the engine, Klisch said.
Different colors indicate what is hot air, fresh air, oil or coolant.
The company, which is headquartered in Germany, produces off-highway engines for a variety of industries, including mining, commercial marine, rail and industrial.
Jens Baumeister, director of operations in Aiken, said MTU found the Graniteville location “by chance” while looking at another location in South Carolina. Since then, the company has hired nearly 300 employees and opened the door to a number of cooperation and apprenticeship opportunities.
The engine sitting in the Finance and Administration lobby is one of the initial results of what MTU has built in Aiken County, he said.
“Aiken County was perfectly located, directly in the middle of Atlanta and Charleston,” Baumeister said. “Detroit was good, but Aiken – it’s amazing. What we’ve achieved here, with the workforce that we have, the support we get from Aiken County, it’s amazing what we’ve achieved in these three and a half years.”
Joseph Walker, a contractor from North Augusta, said the process of getting the 3,000-pound engine into the building took several men eight hours.
Crews removed the glass panes on the front entrance so a self-driven crane could get the engine inside, Walker said.
“That crane should have been able to put it in there, but what happened … the back side of the crane would lift up and it would teeter-totter,” Walker said. Using timbers, they were able to place the engine on dollies to move it forward and took it off the dollies using a jack.
“Everybody had different ideas,” Walker said.