Dorel Juvenile Group USA has invested $25 million in its Columbus, Ind., injection molding plant to help the manufacturer of child safety seats compete in a global market.
Additions at the 50-year-old site include 36 new presses from Milacron Inc., plus 366,000 square feet of warehousing and distribution space, said Jeff Hale, executive vice president of strategic operations.
The machinery additions now put the plant's press count at about 100 machines in a 1.1 million-square-foot complex with 1,000 employees.
The location of the warehouse distribution center will allow finished goods to flow directly from manufacturing and assembly to stocking and shipping, officials said. In addition, work that was outsourced will be brought in-house.
``We reorganized it so it's a more efficient operation,'' Hale said June 24 by telephone. ``Given the nature of the size of the products and the cost of freight, it made the best sense to manufacture products domestically.''
The changes will provide more capacity, faster response and higher efficiency, officials said. The 36 presses include 34 Maxima two-platen machines with clamping forces of 310-880 tons, and two all-electric Roboshot models for smaller parts.
The firm also has ordered a number of Wittmann robots to implement parts-removal automation. Outside, changes include the addition of a rail spur and another set of silos.
``The ability to respond to changing customer and consumer demand requires flexibility that you just can't provide if you have an ocean between your manufacturing and your customers,'' Jeff Cartwright, Dorel's vice president of operations, said in a news release. ``We have positioned ourselves to respond quickly to market changes, bumps in demand, shifts in style preferences, whatever. Our customers' buyers have told us that this is vital.''
Dorel Juvenile Group produces more than 5 million car seats a year at the Indiana plant, which it acquired as part of Cosco Inc. in 1984. In 2000, Dorel bought Safety 1st. Dorel Juvenile Group is owned by consumer products firm Dorel Industries Inc. of Montreal.
Officials said this is only the first part of necessary changes to remain competitive. The company also molds children's potty and bath seats and highchairs in Columbus.