DETROIT — Nine months after it bought an injection molder, Florida Production Engineering Inc. has branched out again in an alliance with an automotive-sealing producer.
FPE of Ormond Beach, Fla., is teaming with auto supplier Standard Products Inc. to develop a new, automotive door- and glass-sealing system. The product — possibly the first one-piece system surrounding an exterior vehicle window — will include plastic trim and rubber-sealing parts.
``It replaces multiple pieces on the door,'' said John Zimmer, director of applications engineering for Dearborn, Mich., Standard Products. ``The glass front is in a plastic surround with an outer belt weatherstrip for sealing. It eliminates burglaries and saves cost.''
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding, expected to be completed in May, to jointly develop the window-sealing system. The agreement was announced March 1 at SAE '99 in Detroit.
The work on the first rubber-and-plastic door-sealing system continues the ascent of FPE in the plastics industry. The company, a subsidiary of Ernie Green Industries Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, purchased injection molder Wyn Cos. of Circleville, Ohio, in June for an undisclosed amount.
The acquisition gave FPE injection plants in Circleville and Athens, Ohio, and Leeds, Ala. Since the acquisition, the company has closed the Leeds facility and moved the presses to the other two plants, said FPE President Ernie Green.
The company did not disclose Wyn's sales; however, according to Plastics News, the company recorded sales of $36 million and operated 44 presses in 1997, the last year figures were available.
The acquisition gave FPE access to Honda of America Manufacturing Inc., a primary customer of Wyn, Green said. The plant makes plastic front and rear automotive-lighting lenses and interior and exterior trim parts.
Wyn's molding operations needed an infusion of resources to remain competitive, Green said. Since the acquisition, the firm has installed a new injection press with 1,800 tons of clamping force at the Circleville plant and revamped the shop floors and operations at both facilities.
``We've invested fairly heavily in the company, both at [the Wyn] plants and at our other facilities,'' Green said. ``The plants are in a better position to do well now, and we're looking for new opportunities.''
FPE, bought by Green in 1987, built its reputation making plastic and metal wheel trim, said Carl Code, FPE vice president of business development. The company now also makes plastic door-trim panels, speaker grilles, instrument-panel components and air-bag covers.
FPE also operates plants in New Madison, Ohio; Williamstown, Ky.; and Ormond Beach. The Ormond Beach plant is undergoing a fairly significant expansion to accommodate new air-bag-cover business, said Code, who declined to give details.
The alliance with Standard Products, a leading automotive sealing supplier, could eventually result in a new plant to make the door systems, said Standard Products Chief Executive Officer Ronald Roudebush. ``We'll have to see what develops,'' Roudebush said. ``But we have great hopes for it.''
The sealing system would include exterior trim pieces made of polycarbonate/ABS surrounding the window, Zimmer said. The trim would be integrated into the window glass.
The system would reduce street noise inside the vehicle and eliminate the need for fasteners and other moving parts, Zimmer said. The companies would like to have a completed system in production by 2003, he added.
Standard Products ranked sixth on Plastics News' list of top pipe, profile and tubing extruders with an estimated $294 million in 1997 North American extrusion sales. FPE officials did not disclose company sales.