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WalkBox unloader, a smaller version of the Walking Floor system, winner in worldwide competition.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - A KEITH WalkBox unloader, designed by KEITH Manufacturing, of Madras, was among the top new products for 2019 at an international competition. 
The KEITH WalkBox unloader, designed and patented by KEITH Manufacturing, which is headquartered in Madras, was recently selected as a winner for the 2019 World Ag Expo Top-10 New Products Competition.

The WalkBox unloader is a smaller version of the company's Walking Floor system, installed on a standard cab or chassis. It incorporates Walking Floor technology, which is a series of floor slats powered by a hydraulic drive that "walks" material out the back of the truck body, with no tipping.

Unlike a typical dump or tipping unit, the WalkBox system safely unloads under utility cables and trees, as well as inside buildings. The WalkBox system has a multi-ton capacity and can haul and unload bulk, baled and palletized goods.

Because the horizontal unloading can be controlled, unlike the all-or-nothing action of a dump box, the WalkBox system can consistently meter material out the back or deliver partial loads.

Industries benefiting from the WalkBox unloader include landscaping, farming, nurseries, golf courses, road maintenance and any other application where a smaller footprint is needed. The system can also deliver sand, gravel and fill materials to ecologically sensitive areas that cannot be served by larger vehicles.

Of the more than 80 entries this year, the panel of judges found the WalkBox unloader to be one of the best. The special recognition will put the spotlight on the new product when it is displayed at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, in February. For a complete list of winners, visit www.worldagexpo.com/2019-world-ag-expo-top-10-new-product-winners-announced.

KEITH Manufacturing. Co., which designs and manufactures the patented Walking Floor system — a moving floor horizontal unloading and loading system — opened its new headquarters in February 2018, at the Madras Industrial Site.

"We knew that there would be a period of adjustment when we brought our sales, engineering and administrative teams together under one roof, but overall things have gone extremely well," said Laura Crocker, media director for KEITH. "Communication and collaboration have improved by having everyone working closer together."

The company machines, fabricates and assembles nearly 100 percent of the components used in the KEITH Walking Floor systems, which were introduced in Madras in the 1970s.

"While we are keeping a close eye on the economic uncertainty as we head into 2019, we are still focused on growing our markets," said Crocker. "This includes focusing on new geographic areas, as well as introducing new products. Our Freight Runner conveying system, which is different from our Walking Floor technology, is really generating interest from an entirely new customer base that is moving unitized cargo."

"We have been working with one of the nation's largest cheese producers for the past year and have installed several systems at various locations within the company's distribution center," she said, adding that the company is excited about the potential of the new product.

"With all this good news, we are continuing to implement our Lean Manufacturing practices to improve our manufacturing processes and productivity, as well as eliminate waste in all areas of the company," said Crocker, noting that the company wants to be well-positioned in the event of an economic downturn.

KEITH employs approximately 220 team members at its Madras facility, and approximately 275 worldwide, including international operations in Canada, Europe, Australia and Mexico.

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