Pierceton solar array brings more than just power for manufacturer
A subsidiary of Ohio-based steel roll forming company Omco Holdings cut the ribbon Thursday on a new solar array at its manufacturing plant in Pierceton. Omco Solar, which develops and produces components for commercial, industrial and utility-scale solar projects, said Friday the array is designed to not only provide power for the plant, but also showcase the company’s capabilities for potential clients.
The company also announced this week that operations are fully underway at its second manufacturing plant in nearby Warsaw.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Omco Solar Director of Business Development Eric Goodwin said the array is the result of a 2017 decision by the company to create its own products in addition to contract manufacturing.
“The genesis of the Indiana plant came from being able to have a place where we could, first, show our products, trial our products, bring customers to see our products, and lastly, to be able to get the benefit of the solar array to help power the manufacturing plant,” Goodwin said. “We use that site, in some cases, for some of the R&D, but the majority of that site is always running and always providing power.”
The company said employees at the Pierceton plant manufactured all of the structural components for the solar array. Pierceton is located about 30 miles northwest of Fort Wayne and 115 miles north of Indianapolis.
The project involved a $600,000 investment by Omco, but Andy Kinkade, director of operations for both the Pierceton and Warsaw plants, noted the company invested $7 million to increase manufacturing capacity of the torque tubes used in the array.
Kinkade said the array has a total yield of 330 megawatts per hour. The array generates all of the power for the manufacturing facility’s production during the week, but Kinkade said the power generated over the weekend goes back to the grid.
And Omco Solar has room to grow in Pierceton. Goodwin said the company has a plot of land adjacent to the manufacturing plant where an additional solar array could be built over the next three years as needs grow.
He said having operations in Indiana is ideal because of its location not only to generate solar power, but to deliver solar components to projects throughout the country.
“It’s just a nice position place to optimize transportation freight to get the product to site,” he said. “There’s just a lot of advantages because of the location.”
Omco Solar began leasing the second manufacturing facility in Warsaw in 2021, but the operations there are not related to solar components, but rather automation.
“It’s for actually for for Walmart,” Kinkade said. “We do a special project for them, building components and assembling components for a new system that they’re putting into all their stores nationwide. It’s a robot picking system. So it’ll occupy a section of every Walmart or at least the supercenters within the United States.”
Between the two facilities, Omco Solar employs about 240 people in Indiana, and Kinkade said that number is going to “grow substantially over the next couple of years,” though a specific target number was not provided.
“We have space. We have land to actually expand facilities, and every time we expand facilities, that means more jobs for northern Indiana. That’s really what excites me is, you know, this whole thing as it grows, is going to increase the opportunities for jobs and good paying jobs in the area.”
Omco Solar also has manufacturing facilities in Wickliffe, Ohio; Phoenix, Arizona; and Talladega, Alabama.