Friedrichshafen, Germany — Rapid Granulator AB is spending millions to improve manufacturing operations both at home and overseas.
The size reduction equipment maker is in the midst of a 4.5 million euro ($5.3 million) effort to install three new automated machining centers at its headquarters in Bredaryd, Sweden, CEO Bengt Rimark said.
The move, he said in an interview at Fakuma, provides both added manufacturing capacity and greater precision.
Rapid produces key components for the company's products in Bredaryd to assure their quality.
"Rapid Sweden is the center of the machining for key components in the Rapid Group," Rimark explained. "Independently, as we assemble machines around the world, all the key components are made by Rapid Sweden. It's Rapid Sweden inside. When I say 'key components,' I refer to the cutter housing and the rotors. The place where all the cutting takes place. So key components in generating high-quality regrind and high efficiency, high gripping. Everything that is essential for the granulation process.
"We have been expanding every year since the financial crisis. We have reached capacity," Rimark said.
"We have filled up all of our capacity right now, so we need to expand. We need to take the next step when it comes to manufacturing," he said.
Adding three new machining centers will provide an estimated 30 to 50 percent more production capacity, Rimark said. Product mix and work flow will ultimately determine exactly how much capacity increases.
The new equipment includes two machining centers that already have been installed and a third expected to be in place late this year.
The company is phasing in the project to allow production to continue in Bredaryd as two older machines also are being taken out of service as the new equipment allows.
Production typically takes place during two shifts while improvements take place during the third.
Meanwhile, the company also is making changes in the United States through a $1.5 million (1.28 million euros) project.
Rapid, as a result of the 2008 economic downturn, had outsourced assembly of machines in that market. But a new company location in Leetsdale, Pa., returns that work directly to the firm.
The opening of the 65,000-square-foot facility near Pittsburgh allows for production of finished machinery under direct company control.
"We wanted to add even more value in the United States," Rimark said. "We are really proud to have our own facility again."
The Pittsburgh-area location employs 26, Rimark said. The Bredaryd site has about 125 workers.
Rapid expects demand to continue to increase. And, because the company only creates custom-made units from orders, the firm has to make sure it has the capacity to quickly fill orders without excessive lead times, the company said.