East Penn Manufacturing is located amidst the corn fields in PA, and as you pull up to the main drive you could never guess how far and wide the place spreads. They manufacture MK batteries, specifically the DEKA solar lines that we carry, as well as a plethora of other well know brand names for a variety of industries. We often get calls from customers that are looking to replace their 10-12 year old MK battery with the exact same model because they can’t believe how long it has lasted or how well it performed. I had the opportunity to visit their manufacturing plant and see exactly what goes into these batteries that makes them so special.
They make it clear right away that there are a few things that are very important to East Penn. First and foremost, they are insane when it comes to environmental responsibility (in a good way). In order to limit any traces of lead seeping into the land, their facilities or their employees, the manufacturing areas are kept super clean. Continuously throughout the day, even the fine lead dust that could accumulate on the floor is vacuumed up, any crud that may wash into the floor grids is cleaned out and everything is fed back into the on-site smelter to melt down and be used again. They don’t stop there though, they also have facilities for employees to shower and change clothes before heading home so that East Penn can launder anything that was worn in the plant, and then clean and process the laundry and waste water themselves. The end result is that the water they give back is cleaner than what they get and they are easily exceeding any environmental laws or expectations for managing lead waste.
East Penn also takes serious pride in the fact that they make everything they need for their batteries. It was amazing to be able to see every piece of the battery being created individually from scratch. You can start at the beginning with the grid being stamped out, pasted, cut, dried and then easily walk upstairs to see where the paste came from, how it was made and how it makes it’s way down to the grid. They were especially proud of the tiny seals that are used in their VRLA model sealing valves, which they also make and test themselves. In each department the staff was happy to show off their sweet, state-of-the-art gear and explain their role in the production process. You can tell that the main goal is to make each piece high quality and exactly the same every time.
As the batteries are going through the manufacturing process they all go through over 250 quality control checks along the way. Some are done by robots and machinery and others are done by the staff at East Penn (as a side note, the robots were incredible). I was really impressed by how many added steps there were just to make sure that each part had gone together perfectly, and then to test it over and over.
The resounding theme was that whatever they were doing at East Penn, they were doing it the very best that they could. After seeing the different types of batteries being made and chatting with the people that monitor everything from their lead content to the cleaning of the smelter, I was blown away by how each step went above and beyond what was expected. It’s clear their company culture has allowed them to make a great product responsibly. Hopefully they can be a role model to show other companies how to be successful and green at the same time too.