Egger wins safety award for U.S. facility
A panel line at Egger's new plant in Lexington, N.C.

A panel line at Egger's new plant in Lexington, N.C.

Photo By Gray

Lexington, N.C. -- Egger Wood Products’ first new facility in North America has won a safety award for the new plant.

The Engineering News-Record (ENR) recognized the Egger plant as the Southeast region’s Best Project in the manufacturing category and awarded it for Excellence in Safety.

The Lexington, N.C., facility spans 815,000-sq.-ft. plant and was designed to create “the most modern plant in the world for this type of product,” said Carsten Ritterbach, plant manager, commercial services for Egger told the ENR.

Egger is a family-owned, Austrian-based wood manufacturing company that produces panel products. The company selected Gray to design and build its first U.S. facility and 20th manufacturing operation worldwide.

The facility was highlighted in an Oct. 10 post at Woodworkingnetwork.com

According to a Gray construction blog post, the company participated in a Safety and Health Achievement and Recognition Program (SHARP)  partnership with the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Division to monitor and assess safety in real-time on the project.

“Egger is a fantastic company, and this project is a prime example of the excellence that can be produced through an effective partnership,” said Brett Goode, senior vice president of Gray’s South Atlantic Office in Charlotte, NC. “We are proud to be a part of this great facility that will continue to produce quality products for decades to come.”

The highly automated facility took 18 months to complete and was finished on schedule in October 2020. “Gray and Egger partnered with full collaboration on all aspects of the project including schedule, cost, and design. We worked with Egger, and not for them,” said John Slone, project executive with Gray. “Both companies joined together to become one team, which developed a high level of trust among everyone.”

The project was deemed a winner for efforts on issues such as severe weather impacts to supply chain consideration. One judge called out the project’s safety record stating, “From a safety perspective, lots of moving parts.”

According to the post, Gray visited an Egger particleboard production facility under construction in Poland during the proposal stage. The plant was designed and built according to the European Union Best Available Technology regulation, which aims to prevent or minimize environmental impact. After the project was under contract, the Gray team visited an existing Egger facility in Austria. The visits helped set the bar for project expectations.

“Gray and Egger partnered with full collaboration on all aspects of the project including schedule, cost, and design,” said Slone. "We worked with Egger and not for them. Both companies joined to essentially become one team, which developed a high level of trust among everyone.”

Production automation was facilitated by the latest Industry 4.0 technologies and state-of-the-art production equipment and technology while Gray collaboratively developed a project-wide safety program with OSHA advisors for the 1,150 workers on site.

To deliver the new plant, the team faced significant hurdles, according to the post. The initial start was delayed three months due to two hurricanes and the need to surcharge soils. The site consisted of unsuitable soils due to excessive rain and material that was not properly compacted before the owner possessed the land. 

In addition, Egger’s equipment commissioning and start-up vendors from Europe were delayed one month due to the COVID-19 international travel ban. Despite these challenges, the main critical path for the equipment installation was met.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).