To take advantage of new fluid-handling business with Ford Motor Co. in Europe, ITT Automotive will open its first assembly plant in France supplying plastic fuel, vapor and brake lines.
Construction began in July on the 42,000-square-foot plant, which is scheduled to open in early 1998 and move to full production by August. The facility, located near Creutzwald, France, will supply nylon 12 multilayer tubing for the redesigned European version of the Ford Escort.
The new Escorts, due out next year, will be assembled at Ford's Saarlouis, Germany, plant. ITT Automotive plans to supply 70 different tubing assemblies for about 600,000 vehicles per year, said spokeswoman Dorit Schneider of ITT Automotive's European headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.
ITT Automotive is investing $7.3 million in the building and equipment at Creutzwald. The operation will employ about 100.
The Ford plant is close to ITT Automotive's new Creutzwald facility, allowing the supplier to provide just-in-time delivery for the fuel-conveyance parts.
ITT Automotive also has a second fluid-handling systems plant in Marsberg, Germany. However, that plant does not provide rapid access to Ford's manufacturing site, Schneider said. In contrast, the Creutzwald plant is located near a heavily traveled traffic corridor connecting France and Germany.
``Our existing fluid-handling plant in Germany is not close enough to fulfill just-in-time or even in-line sequence delivery to Ford,'' Schneider said. ``ITT Automotive also needed to increase capacity because this is new business for the product line. This plant in the north of France was the best choice.''
The plant will assemble the multilayer plastic tubing, which rapidly is gaining acceptance by automakers because of its low permeability and corrosion resistance. The extruded nylon tubes, which are bent by various hot-air processes, are used for conveyance lines from the engine to the fuel tank, and also for vapor and brake lines. The plant will form the tubes and assemble them by clips to quick-connect devices.
The plant also will make welded steel tubes for several fuel applications and a low volume of rubber hoses for connecting tubes. Some applications will involve the assembly of coextruded nylon and Santoprene rubber tubes to offer better heat resistance.
Other fluid-handling plastic components, including quick-connect systems, will be injection molded at the Marsberg plant. That plant is adding four new presses this year, with clamping forces of 80-250 tons, to mold the parts and ship them to Creutzwald for systems assembly.
The French facility also will supply fluid-handling products to Ford's Valencia, Spain, assembly plant for several months. That plant will make the vehicles until the Saarlouis facility is ready to begin Escort production in late 1998.
The fuel-handling systems supplier hopes to attract new business from French automakers after the Creutzwald plant begins operations, Schneider said. The facility currently has Ford as its only customer.
ITT Automotive has 17 plants in North America, Europe and South America supplying fluid-handling systems to automakers.
The company, based in Auburn Hills, Mich., recorded about $5 billion in worldwide sales for 1996. ITT Automotive is a wholly owned subsidiary of New York-based ITT Industries.