Owens Corning has infused $5 million into its global research and development headquarters in Granville, a rural town 30 miles east of Columbus, Ohio.
In a rededication ceremony Aug. 1, officials from the Toledo, Ohio-based building materials firm unveiled three buildings that now make up its science and technology center. The buildings encompass 200,000 square feet, replacing 22 buildings that covered 670,000 square feet in office and lab space. Owens Corning bought the former farm site in 1955.
Officials say they have not made a decision on what to do with the now-empty building space. Only six of the buildings housed employees; most were used for storage.
The integration project, as it is called in Pink Panther territory, is designed to increase productivity 4 percent or more by putting resources and 365 employees closer together. The investment also includes new testing equipment, as the firm has shed antiquated machines.
The project integrates offices, labs and prototyping facilities across all of Owens Corning's business units, said Frank O'Brien-Bernini, vice president of science and technology.
For example, test and development areas for injection molding were separate from extrusion and compounding. Those areas have been combined and the center now has a high-bay area. Organic chemistry labs are now in the same area as composite-development areas.
``That allowed us to upgrade equipment in a very cost-effective way,'' O'Brien-Bernini said. ``Now we're not staring at what it costs to upgrade four different ovens. We're going to have a single, well-controlled, high-efficiency oven that will support all of it, and we auctioned off the other equipment and dropped our total capital base.''
Also, employees will spend less time traveling around the 524-acre campus.
``That really sapped productivity,'' said Charlie Pratt, vice president of technology for exterior systems and siding solutions. ``Now, you're literally going to have people from three or four different business units working on similar things in one space in the same day and sharing information.''
Owens Corning reported 2001 sales of nearly $4.8 billion, compared with 2000 sales of $4.9 billion.