Canon Inc. is investing about $625 million to expand its Canon Virginia Inc. unit - creating 1,035 jobs, including positions in mold making and plastics processing.
The project includes construction in Newport News, Va., of a 700,000-square-foot facility, scheduled for October completion. Nearby operations on a 165-acre campus total 1 million square feet.
Canon Virginia is boosting its mold-making and injection molding operations under the guidance of Takayoshi Hanagata, president and chief executive officer of Canon Virginia and a related unit, Industrial Resource Technologies Inc.
IRT in nearby Gloucester, Va., recycles toner cartridges and reclaims cartridge materials.
Canon is adding to its capabilities for high-speed manufacturing of laser printer cartridges, using proprietary automated technologies. The firm also will expand the repair and refurbishing of digital consumer products such as cameras and camcorders. The site also repairs copiers.
In recent weeks, Canon Virginia has installed seven machines for its mold-making operation, said Brian Strangways, senior director of business development. The units included a Makino horizontal computer numerically controlled machining center, two Makino plunge electrical discharge machines, two Okamoto grinders and two Harig three-axis CNC grinders.
The units were part of Canon Virginia's separately budgeted 2008 investment of $2 million in its tooling area.
``We built a shop inside the factory, and we have a three-year plan for more equipment,'' Strangways said by telephone. Pending the additional space, ``now, we are getting full,'' he said.
Canon Virginia expects the mold-making operation to generate annual sales of $30 million by 2011, Strangways said.
The expansion is being supported by state and local governments.
Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine authorized payment of $1.5 million from the governor's opportunity fund to assist with site development, and approved a grant of $20 million for Canon to receive benefits under the enterprise zone program of the state's housing and community development department.
Also, for an IRT expansion project, Kaine approved a $500,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia investment partnership program.
The state's business assistance department will provide training help through its jobs investment program. Thomas Nelson Community College, along with the state community college system, is leading a training alliance that is expected to educate 880 people as technicians and supervisors over three years.
Canon believes that its program to produce, sell, collect and recycle cartridges in geographic regions can reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by cutting transport costs.
Canon Virginia employs 1,500. It plans to hire 150 workers by year's end.
In injection molding, Canon Virginia employs 88, up from 70 in early 2007. The molding site runs 18 presses in clamping forces of 75-650 tons. It plans to add equipment as part of the expansion.
Its mold-making area has 38 toolmakers, as well as engineers, tool designers and programmers. The firm also has several unfilled toolmaking positions.
Participants in Canon Virginia's automated-cartridges workforce development program are at the firm three days a week and attend school two days for total preventive maintenance, production technician or assembly operator.
``A person stays in the program for 12-24 months,'' said Rhonda Bunn, human resources and public relations manager. ``Effective May 24, we are adding a track for toolmaking machinists,'' she said.
Separately, beginning in August, Canon is partnering with Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, on a leadership scholars program for 25 students.
Also on the agenda, Canon wants to set up a Newport News research and development center for automated and robotic manufacturing technologies for its Americas region. The firm announced the projects May 1.
Publicly traded Canon Inc., based in Tokyo, reported profit of $4.35 billion on 2007 sales of $39.9 billion. Canon Virginia is a subsidiary of the firm's Canon USA Inc. unit.