Vi-Chem Corp. completed a $10 million expansion at its facility without disrupting its manufacturing of thermoplastic elastomers and vinyl compounds.
The firm added 30,000 square feet to its Grand Rapids, Mich., plant, increasing production capacity by 20 percent while adding much-needed warehouse space.
``We had run out of space and were sure that our flow was not as effective as it could be,'' a company spokesman said.
The company decided to construct the facility over its existing, 100,000-square-foot structure to avoid disrupting production.
``We lowered I-beams through the roof and constructed a shell around our existing building, and then we moved equipment into the new area,'' he said.
The expansion took about 30 months from start to finish, the company said, because crews were working alongside the firm's production employees. The shell of the new facility was started in October 1998 and completed this February. Builders removed the plant's original roof and walls.
The resulting facility gives Vi-Chem additional space, including a 32-foot-high ceiling that allows for equipment stacking, he said.
The facility now boasts 130,000 square feet of manufacturing space to produce its TPE and PVC compounds, including styrenic block compounds and vinyl alloys. Vi-Chem's compounds primarily are used in automotive, furniture, appliance and construction markets.
The company currently employs 105 but will add seven workers in the coming month, the spokesman said. One twin-screw extruder, a single-screw extruder and a few blenders also were added.
Included in the expansion was a $2 million revision of Vi-Chem's computer-controlled blending system to allow tighter control of compounding.
``The expansion will improve flow and make life easier on our production workers,'' he said.
The company has experienced about 15-20 percent sales growth per year, since its founding in 1982, with some years peaking at 35 percent. Vi-Chem would not disclose sales but said the majority of its business is in North America.
Vi-Chem Corp. is part of Grand Rapids-based Nicholas Plastics Group, which comprises manufacturers involved in all aspects of producing plastics, including color-matching technology, extrusion molding design and engineering services for the appliance, automotive and furniture industries.