We started out in Davenport, Iowa at John Deere Davenport Works.
We donned hard hats, safety glasses, orange vests and headed out to the line. We saw equipment being built from start to finish - from the steel being cut to the finished wheel loader driving away.
I'm not a huge tractor fan or anything - not like this cute kid that was also on the tour and was so excited about sitting in them - but I like seeing how anything is made. Something with so many parts like heavy equipment is super interesting.
Assembly line at the plant:
A guy was cleaning up fluids and said that they test the lines. If there's a leak, they find out where it is. Then the guy who didn't tighten his line correctly has to do a "walk of shame" up the line and fix his own mistake. They said that as a result it doesn't happen very often.
They also had a gold key presentation for Miller Trucking & Excavating out of Moline, IL. They bought a new wheel loader and got to see it in the factory at the end of the line. It had a plaque on it with their name, and they received a gold key.
It's hard to show how big it was in there ... but it was 2.2 million square feet, or 53 acres, all one building. It was huge.
We left there and went just over the Mississippi River to the John Deere world headquarters in Moline, Illinois:
I like the way 'world headquarters' sounds. I kept wanting to say 'world domination' headquarters. The office building is made of all steel I-beams. It looked strong, to say the least. The deer on the left is just the like deer we narrowly missed this morning in the car. I prefer them made of bronze.
Last, we went to the parts distribution center in Milan, Illinois:
This was an EVEN bigger building. It was 63 acres, covered with neat aisles packed to the 25 foot ceilings. All parts.
They showed us how the part pickers worked, how they transported them through the building - even the robots they program to drive to where they need them to go.
Parts and parts and parts! It made me not want to complain about late shipments ever again.
The trip, which was sponsored by AIS Construction Equipment, (thanks, AIS!) also flew us in their plane. It's really refreshing and pleasant to drive to the airport, park, and walk onto a plane. No getting there early, searches, or waiting. They even rolled out the red carpet for us. Literally! I just saw it when I looked at this picture.
Kris said that being there made him think about Caterpillar - since he gave a lot of tours - and all the fun times he had working there. He quickly added that he's glad we have our farm now, but we certainly had some great times with our friends.
Never mind that Caterpillar and John Deere are competitors. We own both and have toured both! Maybe I'm more interested in tractors than I originally thought.