By Rhoda Miel, Plastics News Staff
Fraser, Michigan - Auto supplier Faurecia SA has launched production at its second plant in Fraser, and already has space set aside for future expansion.
Faurecia, with North American operations based in Auburn Hills, Mich., began renovating an empty 160 000-sq.ft (14 800 sq.m) building in January and is now producing key interior parts for General Motors Co.'s Cadillac ATS and Ford Motor Co.'s Focus.
It has one injection molding machine in use now and space for up to 14, said plant manager Damien Duclair during an interview at the plant's 2 Aug opening ceremony.
An overhead crane system covers the entire moulding area, which is a key to the company's rapid tooling changeover system, Single Minute Exchange of Dies, or SMED, practiced in Fraser and elsewhere globally. The name points to the company's target, not its current tooling change pace, Duclair added.
In addition to injection molding, the plant thermoforms thermoplastic olefin skins used on center consoles and doors and has in-house welding and assembly. It makes 10 different components for the Cadillac interiors, among them the glove box, knee bolster, defroster grille and front and rear door panels.
The door panels use a natural fiber thermoplastic composite, which helps to reduce weight and resin content, Faurecia North America President Mike Heneka noted.
It takes in parts from its sister plant on nearby 14 Mile Road in Fraser, another Faurecia site in Mexico and coordinates final assembly on some parts with sequencing specialists. The Masonic plant is working with recyclers who can separate multilayer scrap and allow the site to reuse the material, Duclair said.
Faurecia entered the North American market less than 10 years ago and has been growing steadily since then. It is now the eighth largest auto supplier in North America, Heneka said. In addition to its interiors business, the company - with global headquarters in Nanterre, France - supplies seats, exterior systems including front-end modules and exhaust systems.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder joined a contingent of city, county and state officials to mark the opening ceremony, with Snyder noting Faurecia's growing employment base in the state.