A Visit to the Deka Battery Plant
African Energy was very proud to host Christopher Adeyemi and Taj Giwa-Osagie from the Forte Oil group at the Deka battery factory in Pennsylvania today. Bruce Habeck, the Global Director for Renewables, organized a fantastic tour for us – many of you will remember him fondly from his dozens of African training sessions. We saw every part of the battery manufacturing process, all taking place in the middle of Pennsylvania farm country that was so green it hurt your eyes. Deka has its own smelter, foundry, battery recycling plant, valve and plastic injection factory, chemical plant, and R&D department all on a single site. The site is also environmentally conscious, recycling all of its own water, lead waste and chemical effluent. It was noted that the smelter emits less pollutants per hour than a 1957 Chevy running on leaded gas. I promise you will never see the equal of this plant, simply because it does not exist. There are over 250 QC points during the rather complicated process of making the Deka sealed batteries. Something is evidently working well, because Deka has grown at 10 times the industry rate over the last decade. This is America’s second largest battery company – nearly $3bn in annual sales – and yet the corporate headquarters are very modest and the COO, Bob Flicker, spent the lunch hour with us talking batteries. A model in humility and well-directed spending. We were very proud to see where our good Deka gel batteries are made and meet the 700+ people who work there. By the way, no photos were allowed in the factory, but I would have loved to show you the first thing we saw on the gel line – a certain purple colored battery being made for an esteemed competitor!