Smart Manufacturing Blog

Welcome to your source for all things smart manufacturing. Whether you’re looking for expert insights, hard data, or actionable tips for your plant floor, we’ve got you covered every week of the year.

7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing

Now Available!

Get your copy of the 7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing and hear from 300+ manufacturers in this new survey report!

The 2023 Innovator Impact Award Winner: The Shyft Group Electrifies and Pursues Innovative, Sustainable Excellence

December 12, 2023

Steering the commercial vehicle industry into the future requires not only creativity but innovation. The Shyft Group is fearlessly up for the task, leveraging smart manufacturing technology to aid in their quest to reinvent the wheel. Since implementing Plex in 2021, The Shyft Group has acted with precision and speed to develop commercial-grade electric delivery vehicles.

Plex’s annual Impact Awards highlight the inventive and exciting work of our customers, celebrating their accomplishments from the past year. The Shyft Group is this year’s 2023 Innovator Impact Award Winner as they continue establishing a new standard to reach and push the commercial vehicle industry into a sustainable lane.

The Shyft Group

The Shyft Group uniquely combines in-depth industry knowledge, engineering and manufacturing expertise, and purposeful innovation to deliver job-enhancing, efficiency-driving, ever-reliable products and services. Their consultative sales approach and adaptive production systems unearth opportunities for continuous improvement, resulting in cost-effective product solutions that meet today’s demands and tomorrow’s needs. At Shyft Group, there’s a culture centered on the customer and a determination to deliver the best-designed and most reliable specialty vehicle solutions in the industry. Their latest development—a Class 3 commercial-grade electric delivery vehicle under their new Blue Arc brand created with Plex technology as a backbone—is a testament to their passion for excellence.

A Closer Look at The Shyft Group’s Innovative Mindset

The family of brands at The Shyft Group is constantly growing. The list currently includes Utilimaster, Blue Arc, Royal Truck Body, DuraMag, Magnum, Strobes-R-Us, Spartan RV Chassis, Red Diamond, and Builtmore Contract Manufacturing, with plans to expand as the company evolves. Its legacy of growth is admirable: the company started in 1975 as the brainchild of a small group of automotive engineers hoping to build high-quality, custom products that could be sold at a fair price. The company has seen many changes over the years and only recently shifted its focus to delivery and specialty vehicles. Innovation, it seems, is part of the company’s fiber.

Part of this shift in focus included tapping smart manufacturing technology in its efforts to digitize and streamline operations. The Shyft Group has implemented Plex at three of their facilities, where they effectively utilize Plex’s ERP solution, which includes its Manufacturing Execution System (MES). The migration to Plex has played a critical role in The Shyft Group’s ability to speed up development and production time—at their location in Plymouth, MI, their Plex environment was created in just two weeks to support the initial parts list, purchasing workflow, ordering of material and receiving/inventory management. This initial support allowed for rapid prototype development: the entire program for The Shyft Group’s new electric vehicle—from conception to a functional prototype—took only nine months.

New Market Expansion and Accelerated Operations with Plex

The Shyft Group’s state-of-the-art electric vehicle combines trusted tradition with new tricks. This venture into a more sustainable model builds on 50 years of experience building vehicle chassis and bodies. This new build was an intentional move into a greener space and indicative of the company’s commitment to sustainable innovation. There’s other green to be found in the world of sustainability, as The Shyft Group’s expansion into this new market represents a 4x growth opportunity with a total addressable market of around $20 billion. Those impressive numbers offer The Shyft Group an exciting opportunity as they continue electrifying vehicle fleets.

The new electric vehicle was launched under The Shyft Group’s brand Blue Arc, a startup within the company that’s dedicated to developing commercial-grade EV solutions. The support from Plex allowed Blue Arc to not only launch their latest electric vehicle but to do so at an expedited pace. Everything—from planning, to design, to production—was accomplished at record speed. Their quick Plex implementation set the tone for the rest of the project and opened the door for accelerated prototype development. The pacing of this latest electric vehicle launch leaves The Shyft Group eager about what other solutions they can offer to the market. The company already envisions what future processes will look like, with Plex alongside them as they grow.

The 2023 Innovator Impact Award

With a history of innovation, it’s no surprise that The Shyft Group continues to find new markets and push the boundaries of the commercial vehicle industry. Little time was wasted once Plex had been brought on board, and they hit the ground running putting plans into motion for their new electric commercial vehicle. As they continue to reimagine what vehicle fleets look like, we are excited to name The Shyft Group as this year’s 2023 Innovator Impact Award winner.

We’re eager to see what the future holds for The Shyft Group—we know there are plenty of gears turning on their team. Congratulations to The Shyft Group for being selected as the 2023 Innovator Impact Award Winner!

To learn more about how manufacturers innovate their operations with smart manufacturing solutions from Plex, read a success story here.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.