Kawasaki Mule Celebrates 30 Years

kawplantne17The Kawasaki MULE™ side x side is built Kawasaki STRONG. Constructed with strength, dependability, and reliability, it should be no surprise that for the last 30 years the Kawasaki MULE side x side has been assembled in the United States with foreign and domestic parts.
Established in 1981, Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., U.S.A. (KMM) is a subsidiary of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, LTD. KMM’s headquarters are located in the center of the United States in Lincoln, Nebraska. Starting in 1987 KMM began assembling MULE utility vehicles, and now they employ over 2,000 hard working people in its workforce. KMM currently produces all-terrain vehicles, utility vehicles, personal watercraft, and recreation utility vehicles, as well as passenger rail cars, from foreign and domestic parts.

Built Kawasaki STRONG, over half a million MULE side x sides have been produced out of KMM (534,444, as of July 1, 2017) since the side x side’s inception 30 years ago.
“Of course, it was a long haul from concept through development to get that first unit off the line. After making motorcycles, Jet Ski® watercraft and ATVs, throughout our history at KMM, this was a completely different product. It was a little funny looking compared to our other products but looked practical,” said KMM Sr. Vice President/COO Mike Boyle. “Since the product was so different and to focus on getting it right, we made a new assembly line for the first MULE production. When the first unit rolled off the assembly line it was more a mixture of relief and pride in getting it done, and the hope that the MULE would catch on with the public.” With the MULE side x side, Kawasaki revolutionized the utility vehicle segment, which has seen substantial growth for the Powersports industry.

The facility has expanded greatly since it opened in 1974, when it was owned by Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.  Starting with only a 270,000 square foot plant, operations are now hosted inside of a 2.4 million square foot compound made up of multiple buildings. The vast expansion was also accompanied with advancements in technology and an improved production line. A major breakthrough in the assembly line process came in the form of an in-floor conveyor system that raises and lowers each unit as it enters a new workstation. This creates a more comfortable environment for workers as well as eliminates the need to manually raise and lower units as they enter different stages of assembly.

“These automatically height-adjustable assembly carts increase operator efficiency and ergonomics, provide open sided in-line dyno testing, sealant application robots, easy electronic ordering of parts to reduce line-side part storage and create more open space for operators, as well as a list of other benefits,” said Boyle.

Boyle said about KMM’s employees, “Many of our employees farm, have acreages or raise livestock, and they understand what it means to have a vehicle that you can count on. When you visit KMM, you’ll see this pride in how particular our employees are and how they nit pick the smallest detail. This comes from the expectations and culture of the company and the environment in which people were raised.”

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