GW Plastics Inc. has completed a long-awaited expansion of its Dongguan, China, facilities.
In an email interview with Plastics News, Ben Bouchard, GW's vice president for international business development and managing director for China, clarified that the expansion, originally planned to open in 2015, was delayed by six months because of construction-related issues.
“Building our new plant only three blocks from our original plant and within the same industrial park allowed us to keep our existing staff and have the confidence to invest in this new plant,” he said.
“We worked with our existing industrial park to construct a brand new building that was customized to our needs,” he said.
GW's new 125,000-square-foot facility has more than doubled the size of its facilities in Dongguan and will permit the company to streamline tooling, molding, and medical device assembly operations.
“In the old plant, we had grown to [the] point where operations were placed where they fit, not necessarily in the most streamlined manner. This was especially true on the tool building side of the business,” he said. “The new building has an expansive and well laid out tooling operation.”
The new plant supports both of GW's major markets: health care and automotive.
“It has large clean room as well as manual and automated assembly areas to support our healthcare customer growth but also has higher ceilings and bridge cranes to support larger molds for our automotive customers,” he said.
The large size also ensures enough room for future contract manufacturing growth, Bouchard said.
“In China we have seen that customers want to see that the supplier has the space readily available to support their projects. About a third of the new building is set aside for growth opportunities,” he said. “We have the infrastructure in place to quickly ramp up production as needed.”
Bouchard said the company had originally thought to build a new plant closer to Shanghai, but later decided to expand on their Dongguan operations instead.
“We like Dongguan and Guangdong province as it has historical roots for precision mold making and molding in China and our decision to put our plant in this location is an indication of our ongoing confidence in this region,” he said.
GW's business in China remains 75 percent health-care related, Bouchard said, adding that the company manufactures FDA-approved drug delivery devices, disposable surgical assemblies and related products that are exported directly to the U.S. and Europe.
“We are currently working on obtaining CFDA approval for our Dongguan plant to allow us to support our customers as they grow in the China market,” he added.
Aside from the Dongguan facility, GW Plastics has four U.S. plants and one in Mexico. “Over the past few years several of these other plants have had expansions to support growth,” Bouchard said. “In China we decided to move the operation to a completely new building rather than try to add or expand our existing plant.”
Bouchard said business continues to be strong in China.
“The GW Dongguan plant has been operating for nearly 10 years and over that time our GW Dongguan sales have grown more than tenfold. Our 2015 GWD annual sales were more than ten times the 2006 sales value,” he said, declining to give more specifics because GW is a privately owned company.
It would seem that GW is banking on continued growth in China. “On a square footage basis the GWD plant is the largest in the GW family however the GWD sales are currently only about 10 percent of the overall company annual sales,” Bouchard said. “The new plant gives us the runway to support increased growth.”
GW also reported that it has broken ground on a 21,000 square foot expansion of its Royalton, Vt., headquarters facilities.