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Forbo to invest $3.7 million to double capacity at N.C. facility

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HUNTERSVILLE, N.C.—Forbo Siegling L.L.C. has launched a multi-million dollar project that will more than double its fabric roll production capacity at the firm's headquarters in Huntersville.

The U.S. arm of Forbo Movement Systems, one of two divisions within Baar, Switzerland-based Forbo Holding Ltd., Forbo Siegling is adding a three-meter finished width machine at the plant in Huntersville, which is located in North Charlotte, according to Wayne Hoffman, president of the U.S. operation.

To accommodate the new urethane- and PVC-coated fabric machine, the company is taking over the remainder of a leased facility that was custom built for the firm in 2014.

For the last year it has occupied 60,000 square feet of the building. The remaining portion of the site spans about 20,000 square feet, which is expected to give the firm sufficient space to house the addition.

Cost of the expansion was estimated at $3.7 million.

Hoffman said the automated machine is being relocated from Forbo Movement Systems' sprawling facility in Hanover, Germany. It is scheduled for startup in the fourth quarter, he said, as the company prepares for greater growth in 2016.

About 11 additional employees are expected to be added at the Hunter-sville factory, which would bring the firm's work force in the Americas to a little more than 500.

The company is not moving production capacity from the Hanover site, just the machine, Hoffman said. The Hanover plant is the primary manufacturing site for the Movement Systems Division.

He noted that “the new machine is a full line, fully capable of producing lightweight fabric belting.”

Forbo Siegling's latest expansion will boost significantly the company's manufacturing capabilities and its roll production capacity, Hoffman said. Forbo Siegling operates another 100,000-sq.-ft. plant, built in 1993, in the North Charlotte area and a third facility in South Charlotte.

Hoffman said the capacity addition will support the company's growing customer base.

With the addition of the machine, Forbo will become the largest lightweight fabric belting production operation in North or South America, he claimed.

Forbo Siegling—which produces cast urethane- and PVC-coated fabric conveyor belts for a variety of sectors, including food, logistics and industrial—needed the production machine because it is running out of capacity at the Huntersville site, which operates 24/7, Hoffman said.

But that wasn't necessarily the primary reason Forbo Siegling wanted the machine.

“With this machine, we're solving delivery issues that resulted from our growth in the U.S.,” he said.

“It has been difficult to keep up with demand in the Americas while we also have plans to export more belts. Now we'll be able to do both, and our customers are thrilled with this decision.”