The heart of Allied is its Harvey, Illinois, plant. The largest of Atkore International’s manufacturing facilities, the Harvey plant is the permanent home of Atkore International’s global operations. And, at the heart of Harvey, is the manufacturing process that started it all. In 1959, a young engineer invented a technique to run welded tubing through a zinc bath while it was still “on-line”, after being formed. The savings in time and extra handling made production much less expensive. The result was Allied Tube & Conduit Corporation, founded on the patent for the in-line Flo-Coat® galvanizing process. In 1960, Allied’s first plant opened. Less than ten employees and one tube mill produced 1/2″ EMT (thin wall electrical conduit) at a continuous rate of two feet per second – a dramatic increase over the industry average. In 1963, over one hundred employees moved into the new main plant in Harvey, Illinois, about 20 miles south of Chicago. Today, this facility is the corporate headquarters for not only Allied, but all of Atkore International Products, comprised of electrical raceway products, including conduit, wire and cable products; galvanized steel tubing and steel tubing for automotive applications, OEM’s and agricultural applications; and constructions materials in North America, the UK and Brazil.
In addition to being a corporate headquarters, the Harvey facility employs nearly 800 people and produces over 400,000 tons of galvanized steel tubing per year. Inline galvanized steel tubing is used for a variety of applications, including electrical conduit, chain-link fence framework, fire sprinkler piping, and steel construction components. Galvanized tubing is very versatile. It can be worked for extra strength, polished, embossed and shaped. Special coatings can be added for aesthetics or extra corrosion resistance in order to meet specific customer requirements. Custom, made-to-order tubing can be used in an infinite number of applications including commercial playground equipment, greenhouses, roller conveyors, and awnings and canopies. Some familiar companies and brands include:
• AFC Cable Systems (AC and MC Cable, Flex and Liquid Tight Conduit)
• Eastern Wire & Conduit (AC and MC Cable and fittings)
• ACS/Uni-Fab (Pre-wired electrical whips and fixtures)
• Unistrut (Strut channel and fittings for framing applications)
• Unistrut Construction (Special metal framing projects, design, engineering and installation)
Allied Tube & Conduit was founded on a cost-saving innovation, and low-cost manufacturing continues to be the basis of the company’s success. Allied Tube has implemented Six Sigma, a data-driven methodology to reduce variation in manufacturing and other processes. Various Six Sigma projects have been introduced to reduce waste, improve quality, and lower manufacturing costs.
Allied has a history of product innovation. Every time Allied has entered a new market, it has been with inventive products designed to cut costs without sacrificing performance. Allied changed the electrical construction industry with the introduction of IMC (Intermediate Metal Conduit), a lighter, stronger, and less expensive alternative to heavy wall rigid conduit. Allied “XL” galvanized sprinkler pipe, introduced to the fire protection industry in the early 1980′s, was the first metal piping product to be developed specifically for use in sprinkler systems. Allied’s Gatorshield® galvanized steel tubing, combining superior corrosion resistance and high yield strength, has become the product of choice for many structural applications.
From less than ten people and one tube mill, to nearly eight hundred people and nine mills, Allied Tube and Conduit’s Harvey facility has been going strong for over 40 years. Those years have seen many changes, but one thing remains constant – a culture of product and process innovation that is the foundation of Allied’s success.