DMAX plant rolls 2 millionth engine off assembly line

The last connection to the General Motors era that helped grow the Dayton area for at least five decades on Monday rolled its 2 millionth turbo-diesel engine off the assembly line.

Moraine-based DMAX, the last partially owned GM plant in the Miami Valley, finished the 2 millionth turbo-diesel engine, nearly 17 years after its first engine rolled off the line in July 2000.

In that time, the company has weathered GM’s bankruptcy, the Great Recession and gas fluctuations that saw diesel prices at one time reach nearly $5 a gallon. The company said employees at the plant have helped DMAX build a reputation for impressive power and durability.

“When we started this project, who would have expected we would achieve 2 million engines? I do recognize that although we made 2 million engines, it could not be achieved without the support of all employee,” said Shinichi Suzuki, president and CEO of DMAX. “The most important thing is not that the engines have been manufactured, but that they have been sold by the effort of the entire team.”

DMAX has grown its employment in the past few years and currently employs 554 hourly union workers and 114 salaried employees. That’s a total of 668 workers.

Employees are currently building the redesigned Duramax 6.6L V-8 turbo-diesel engine. This next-generation engine offers more horsepower and torque than ever, according to a company statement. It’ll offer trucks the ability to haul and trailer easier.

“The Duramax Diesel has powered GM’s heavy-duty pickups to numerous quality, reliability, durability and truck of the year awards,” said Cathy Clegg, vice president of GMNA manufacturing and labor relations. “These awards would not be possible without the hard work of the men and women of the IUE and DMAX.”

The redesigned engine, which has a 19 percent increase in max torque compared to the last Duramax 6.6L, is made to perform quieter and smoother. It is also able to run on B20 bio-diesel, a fuel made up of biodiesel and conventional diesel — lowering the carbon dioxide emitted by the truck and lessening the trucking industry’s dependence on petroleum.

That renewable fuel is produced in the U.S., and is made primarily of plant matter like soybean oil. The engine production isn’t the only positive growth coming out of the plant.

The plant also received $82 million in investments for productivity improvements in 2015, and $60 million in investments for emissions improvements in 2014. General Motors is 60 percent owner of the Moraine DMAX plant, and it’s also owned by Japanese truck maker Isuzu.

Officials say the investment in the plant is also reflective of DMAX’s investment in the local community.

“We consider ourselves to be a big part of the community in which we live and work,” said Pat Curtis, GM plant manager. “We have invested both dollars and volunteerism into several local organizations, specifically the Moraine Foundation, which channels all local charitable activities and the promotion of STEM-related opportunities through the West Carrollton HS–FIRST Robotics Club.”