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Burnham Works Takes A Visit To Navistar's Headquarters

Burnham Works Takes A Visit To Navistar's Headquarters

For anyone who has ever stepped foot in Illinois and bravely ventured away from Chicago’s concrete jungle, they know there exists a place of adventure and heritage that words fail to capture.  Amidst dirt roads and torn American denim, far beyond office appointments, expressway traffic and the steady, relentless barrage of social media blaring from handheld screens, there is a fabric of culture that silently and lovingly reminds us that our country was built upon skill, sweat and calloused hands.  America’s farmland is America’s backbone.  And in a land where corn is still king, the International Harvester is that noble steed on which this kingdom is governed.  

Somewhere between baseball and mom’s apple pie, Cyrus McCormick developed the first horse-drawn reaper, the patriarch of International Harvester’s product line.  Since 1831, (now known as) Navistar’s International Corporation has been busy simplifying and catalyzing American commerce through the creation and implementation of work vehicles in the agricultural, commercial and federal markets.  And on July 17, Burnham Works had the unique opportunity to visit Navistar and discuss the trucking industry.  

Navistar’s world office headquarters, appropriately located on the borders of metropolis Chicago and DuPage County farmlands, is a visual allegory to Navistar’s calling.  With one hand on the shoulders of high-tech innovation and the other on the blue-collar spirit, Navistar seamlessly provides the latest in technological achievements to the working man.

Within Navistar’s testing facilities exists a city of scientists, engineers, robots and computers that combine to interpret generated lists of numbers, graphs and reports for each manufactured vehicle. Each room, interconnected by miles of roadway, has it’s own research team tasked to a specific trucking industry issue.  Tests will be performed around the clock on such issues as environmental impacts, truck durability, corrosion, sustainability, emissions, performance, among others.  With the mindset that no detail is too small to overlook, every bolt will be scrutinized, every adjustment will be considered and every component will be explored.  Case and point, robotics open and shut an cab bunkbeds 24,000 times over the course of two days, mimicking 10 years of use.  Truck brackets are immersed in corrosive salt tanks and studied.  Engines are plunged into water, removed, and then started. Its from tests like these that data will be gathered, numbers will be crunched, information will be gleaned, components will be tweaked, and new tests will be performed.  And this is how Navistar serves their customers; by providing a proven product that is reliable in every scenario, promising the very best for their markets.

Beyond the testing and labwork on current and concept trucks, Navistar is learning how to adapt truck technology to current markets.  Everyday in the call center, primarily used to troubleshoot customers’ trucking issues, Navistar’s analytics team collects trending information to learn the various ways customers are using the trucks, and how the current product line can be improved.  As soon as data is gathered, information is then sent back to the research and development office for the engineers to incorporate in their next round of tests.

The future of Navistar is brighter than it’s past.  With a trucking line that’s completely customizable, there is no end to the industries and markets they are willing to serve.  More recently, for example, Navistar created a product line of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, an armored plated transport vehicle used by the American war effort to protect troops and save lives.  And as soon as these soldiers return back from service, Navistar is ready and willing to hire these soldiers as vehicle operators and experts.

Navistar, with it’s roots in the International Harvester, is as important to America’s heritage as America is to Navistar.  As a company created by blue-collar America to serve blue-collar America, Navistar is doing everything they can to live up to their “Made in America” label.  

And we at Burnham Works think they’re doing a pretty good job.


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