On September 23, Italian hot runner specialist HRSflow (San Polo di Piave, Italy) officially opened its new U.S. production facility in Byron Center near Grand Rapids, MI. More than 200 guests, the majority of whom were plastics processors and suppliers to North American automotive manufacturers, attended the grand opening ceremony. The event featured presentations, technology demonstrations and a plant visit.
Speakers included Maurizio Bazzo, President and CEO of INglass-HRSflow, as well as representatives of economic and industry associations such as Bill Carteaux, President of the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), and Laurie Harbour, President of Harbour Results LLC.
Live demonstrations of the new FLEXflow technology were given to show attendees. The servo-driven, finely regulated valve-gate system is suited for large parts such as those used in the automotive industry for interior and exterior applications. The process allows significant improvements in surface quality plus a reduction in clamping force and part weight.
|FLEXflow Product Manager Moreno Carvani gives a tour of HRSflow's new U.S. facility.|
With its site at Byron Center, HRSflow now has a local production plant on the American continent, consisting of 3,700 square meters with separate areas for the production and assembly of hot-runner systems, a warehouse and room for routing quality control and other offices. Parent company INglass S.p.A has invested more than €15 million in real estate, buildings and machinery.
"We built the new plant in record time of just 10 months," said Bazzo during the opening ceremony. "We succeeded because we have already thoroughly tested the infrastructure on other occasions, not only at our headquarters in Italy, but also in our Chinese facility in Hangzhou near Shanghai. At all of these plants we have the same machines and equipment, and all the processes for planning, construction and production of our hot runners are identical. By doing this we ensure that we can offer our customers the same high product quality with absolute reliability on all three continents.
"At the same time, we are extremely flexible," Bazzo continued. "Should a capacity bottleneck occur at one site, we can easily work off the backlog of orders at one of our other two plants."
The Byron Center facility will serve primarily the U.S. and Canadian markets, as well as Central and South America. In these regions, HRSflow already has sales and service structures in place. The company has been represented in the United States and Canada with sales, service and engineering since 2001.
"We nevertheless realized that only with local production facilities could we achieve the short delivery and response times and the overall flexibility that are needed, for example, in the automotive industry," commented Bazzo. "We are convinced that, with this new production plant in the center of the North American auto industry, our business on the entire American continent will expand significantly. Our new production site is therefore an important milestone in the continuous growth of HRSflow as a whole."
John Blundy, President of HRSflow North America, commented to PlasticsToday: "The automotive market is extremely important to our business on a global basis. We made the decision to locate our North American headquarters and manufacturing facility close to the dominance of OEMs and their core Tier 1 and 2 suppliers in North America. That fact, along with the experienced workforce in Michigan, moved us to choose Michigan as our base of operations in North America."
Plans to expand the Byron Center facility in a second stage by adding a further 4,300 square meters are already on the drawing board. In Bazzo's opinion, this expansion could become reality within the next three to four years, and the number of employees would then more than double from its present 50 or so.