Faced with the loss of a key General Motors Corp. contract, a large plastic window molding plant owned by glassmaker Pilkington Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. will close Feb. 1.
The 134,000-square-foot Lindsay, Ontario, plant will shut down operations gradually before February, according to spokeswoman Bev Pierce of LOF, based in Toledo, Ohio. The plant's 181 workers will be laid off in stages, Pierce said.
The unionized facility began laying off workers in May before announcing the plant shutdown to workers June 19.
Before the layoffs began, the plant had about 535 workers, said national representative Lorna Moses with the Toronto-based Canadian Auto Workers.
The plant partly has been a victim of a change in automotive fashion. The facility makes window encapsulation systems, a polyurethane strip applied by reinforced reaction injection molding to surround window glass. The piece is largely cosmetic.
Until the 1999 model year, which starts production this fall, the plant primarily molded the glass trim parts for GM's top-selling C/K series of pickup trucks. The automaker produced close to 700,000 C/K trucks in 1997, according to the Automotive News information center.
However, GM redesigned its truck line to eliminate the encapsulated windows. Instead, the 1999 pickups will include a simpler, less-expensive PVC extruded sheet attached to the top of a glass window, leaving the rest of the window untouched, said Fred Kaiser, engineering manager for GM's truck hard trim group, based in Troy, Mich.
GM has moved away from encapsulated windows for most of its car and light-truck line, Kaiser said. Other models, such as GM's Saturn series, also have eliminated the use of the RRIM window strippings, he said.
The change eliminated LOF's RRIM encapsulation work, said LOF engineering director Michael Pollock. The plant handles more than 60 percent of GM's encapsulated windows for the C/K truck, he said.
``The PVC extrusions will now be glued on at our factories and shipped to GM plants for assembly,'' Pollock said.
The Lindsay plant's only other business is serving the automotive aftermarket with encapsulated windows, he said. That work, and as many as four RRIM presses, will be shifted to LOF's other North American encapsulated window plants in Niles and Clinton, Mich.
The facility plans to sell or scrap the Lindsay plant's remaining eight RRIM presses, Pollock said.
Essentially, the RRIM process at the Lindsay plant involves placing a sheet of glass into a press and then injecting the PU around the window, according to Pollock.
LOF is owned by Pilkington plc, headquartered in St. Helens, England. In addition to the Lindsay plant, the company operates 12 facilities in North America involved in glass manufacturing or auto glass components, Pierce said.