Cast nylon parts producer Schwartz Technical Plastics Inc. is moving its North American operations to Ambridge, Pa.
Technically, the firm is moving from Smithfield, N.C. But the shift took an unusually long detour - through Xanten, Germany.
Last fall, after a fire damaged the parent company's plant in Germany, the U.S. operation shipped its equipment from Smithfield to Schwartz GmbH in Xanten.
``We disassembled the U.S. equipment, put it on a 747 and flew it to Germany,'' said Schwartz Technical President Bernd Nussdorfer. During the period after the U.S. plant ceased production, Schwartz supplied all of its global customers from its plants in Xanten and Petrovicka, Czech Republic.
Now the equipment is on a ship due to arrive back in North America in two to three weeks.
``We were already rethinking our operation in North Carolina,'' which was not near the firm's customers, Nussdorfer said in a telephone interview.
``In a 600-mile radius of Pittsburgh are 95 percent of our customers,'' Nussdorfer said.
Schwartz Technical has occupied a leased, 20,000-square-foot plant in Ambridge for about a month. In two months it plans to resume production.
The parent company's Xanten plant finished installing its new equipment in June and since has restarted production.
Nussdorfer claims cast nylon 6 made by his firm is stronger and more resilient than ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene and finds use in heavy-wear applications such as rollers, gears and sliding packs. Made by casting the monomer caprolactam into molds and then heating, such parts are replacing metal parts in heavy equipment such as cranes and elevators, and in paper mills.
Schwartz Technical plans to hire 25 to staff its new location.