Byron Center, Mich. — Italy-based hot runner manufacturer HRSflow has extended its manufacturing footprint to the U.S. with a new plant in Byron Center, Mich., south of Grand Rapids.
The division of mold manufacturer Inglass SpA chose the location to be closer to west Michigan's plastics industry and the state's automakers, officials said at a grand opening ceremony Sept. 23.
“Michigan is the hub of the automotive business in the U.S.A., which is a very important market for Inglass and [HRSflow]. This is the reason why we chose to locate here,” Inglass-HRSflow President and CEO Maurizio Bazzo said in a presentation at the ceremony.
“[There are] lots of think tanks that are predicting that the automotive industry will continue to grow for the next at least a couple of years, and then it may subside a bit,” John Blundy, president of Inglass North America, added in a follow-up phone call with Plastics News. “In those few years' time, based on the fact that we've made an investment to have an extremely automated and modern plant, we have no expectations other than the fact that we will grow substantially.”
The Byron Center site has 3,700 square meters (40,000 square feet) of floor space, with an expansion adding an additional 4,600 square meters (50,000 square feet) planned for 2019.
The operation will serve primarily the U.S. and Canadian markets, along with Central and South America. HRSflow also produces hot-runner systems at facilities in China and at its headquarters in San Polo di Piave, Italy, with North American sales and service locations in Windsor, Ontario, and in South Carolina.
Representing an investment of more than 15 million euros for Inglass, the facility is designed to be identical in process to other plants, equipped with robotics and many highly automated systems, officials said.
“When you have an opportunity to build a brand new plant, and you utilize state-of-the-art equipment, particularly higher degrees of automation, you have a great opportunity to produce a global product,” Blundy said. “And it was our goal to make sure that each plant — the one in Europe, the one in China and the one in the United States — are truly identical in every way, shape and form. Machinery is the same, design concept is the same, and when you put automation to that, you can ensure that you're going to get the same consistency and quality level throughout the world.”
At the September open house, HRSflow demonstrated its Flexflow system, a servo-driven valve gate designed for injection molding of large-area, complex parts. A key target for the system is the automotive industry, with potential applications for the technology in the lawn and garden, appliance, and other industries.
The company will also showcase Flexflow at Fakuma 2015 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and will present for the first time publicly the integration of Flexflow with Moldflow simulation software.