Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies (Plymouth MI), a global provider of analysis and testing services of industrial elastomers and plastics, broke ground on a 43,000-sq-ft expansion of its Findlay, OH, plant on June 19. The new laboratory, part of an overall plant expansion taking place in 2015, will provide the company's Fluid Power Division with new material characterization, failure analysis and mechanical property test capabilities. It also will consolidate and expand an existing engineering test laboratory at the facility. The expansion was first announced last month.
"Research and development are core values at Freudenberg-NOK, and this laboratory investment supports the company's mission, customers and markets," said Dr. Theodore G. Duclos, President, Freudenberg-NOK, in a prepared statement. "We continue to invest in our scientific material competencies in order to solve ever more complex global system challenges and to remain an essential leader in material development and the sealing industry."
The new lab will account for approximately 2,000 square feet of the total expansion and represents an investment of approximately $450,000 in equipment and building expenses. The entire project will create 25 new jobs at the Findlay plant and represents an investment of approximately $8.6 million in construction and equipment upgrades. It will be completed before the end of the year, said the company.
The company officially celebrated the expansion on Friday in a groundbreaking ceremony at the plant with company executives, elected officials, employees and media. The Findlay facility produces approximately 700 high-performance plastic parts for customers including vehicle manufacturers and Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers using state-of-the-art manufacturing processes.
The new laboratory will perform analysis and testing of parts made from high-performance plastics. These include thrust washers, seals and other components used in the automotive industry. In addition, the company is installing a new engineering test rig in the lab that will measure torque loss. The data will help Freudenberg-NOK further improve custom engineered sealing solutions that are reducing CO2 emissions and improving fuel economy.
The Findlay expansion will result in the creation of 25 new jobs including chemist, chemical engineer and quality technician positions. The company worked with the state of Ohio, including the Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development authority, Jobs Ohio and the Regional Growth Partnership on workforce incentives.
Freudenberg-NOK and its Findlay operations are considered a top employer in Hancock County, and the plant was a finalist in the IndustryWeek 2014 Best Plants competition last year. The competition annually recognizes the best manufacturing plants in North America. Findlay maintains a nearly perfect record in the areas of quality, delivery and customer retention.
Findlay also has become the company's lead facility in the successful adoption of a new breakthrough manufacturing approach, Single-Cavity Net Shape Molding. The single-cavity approach uses compact, custom-engineered one-cavity injection and compression molding machines rather than multi-cavity machines to produce crucial thermoplastic parts. The process improves part quality and reduces scrap and waste.
"The addition of the new laboratory and testing capabilities at the Findlay facility will help us meet customer demands for components that function flawlessly in even the most rigorous and unanticipated environmental conditions," said Roy Schroeder, Lead Center Manager, Fluid Power Automotive, Findlay. "We are delighted that Freudenberg-NOK is investing in our facility, our people and our community."
Findlay's expansion will help the facility increase its compression and injection molding product production, which includes seal rings, thrust washers, pistons and assemblies. The plant currently manufacturers 185 million seals and related components annually and anticipates the new addition will increase production by approximately 25% a year.
Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is the Americas joint venture between Freudenberg and Co. in Germany and NOK Corp. in Japan. It develops advanced sealing technologies for a range of sectors including aerospace, agriculture, appliance, automotive, construction, diesel engine, energy, food and beverage, heavy industry and pharmaceutical.