According to Bob Stoesser, VP and general manager for Western and Central America, SMC Ltd. Stoesser-Gordon has been doing business in Costa Rica for 10 years via a strategic alliance with a company there. "We began with the purpose of molding components to support the OEMs who had moved there," said Stoesser in an interview. "We then moved into subassemblies, and for the last couple of years have been doing finished medical devices." Even when the new location opens, SMC plans to maintain the strategic alliance in place for components manufacturing.
The new facility will be a full-service medical device manufacturing plant with assembly, testing, packaging, and full supply chain management onsite. "With our already long history of high-quality component manufacturing in Costa Rica, we are now able to offer our customers a state-of-the-art facility for cleanroom device assembly and testing," said Stoesser. The 20,000-ft2 plant, which is phase one of a multiphase expansion, is being set up with eight injection molding machines, 50-230 tons. "We plan to be up and running in the March/April time frame," he said.
Stoesser said most of SMC's OEM customers have global distribution capabilities from Costa Rica and ship all over the world. Based on customer demand in Costa Rica, Stoesser said SMC has planned an additional 20,000-ft2 addition, and phase three will be a 50,000-ft2 building. SMC's president, Chetan N. Patel, added, "With the addition of Costa Rica to our global footprint, SMC is able to support the needs of our U.S.-based customers who have facilities in Central America as well as provide a Best Cost Country option for higher labor projects serving the U.S. market."
SMC's California facility in Santa Rosa currently has 32 injection presses from 50 to 550 tons operating in Class 10,000 and Class 100,000 cleanrooms. Stoesser explained that SMC is also doing finished medical device assembly and testing in Santa Rosa.
"Costa Rica is a big expansion for us, said Stoesser, "but we've always been very proactive with our customers in trying to meet their requirements wherever they have plants. "A lot of factors go into making the investment for a facility of this type, including being close to customers. We also look at areas that make economic sense for manufacturing." —Clare Goldsberry