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Freudenberg enters plunger market in North America

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Juregen Mall, market segment manager responsible for fuel products, Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies.

PLYMOUTH, Mich.—Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies GmbH & Co. is making its integrated molded components product portfolio of bonded solenoid plungers available to customers in North America.

The firm will utilize space in its existing plant in Shelbyville, Ind., to create a production facility dedicated to manufacture the solenoid line. It will bring over machines, new technology and processes from its factory in Kufstin, Austria, currently the only facility producing the line.

"We realized there is opportunity for us to enter this market," said Juregen Mall, market segment manager responsible for fuel products. "To be successful in North America, we realized we need North American production to be close to the customer and avoid currency risks. The decision was taken to localize it in North America."

The company is installing two machines in Shelbyville that will produce parts by the end of December, said Alexander Vasilico, product development manager. Freudenberg plans to continue installing machines until the production line is fully operational at the end of 2014.

The company still is examining how many new jobs will be needed in conjunction with the expansion, but Vasilico said new ones will be created. The Shelbyville plant employs about 150, while Freudenberg's Kufstin factory has a staff of approximately 350.

"We will start with a limited capacity to make sure the company has the product in place, and it can supply the demand," Mall said. "But the clear target is to grow the product. With the expected growth, we will certainly also create new jobs, though at the moment we should be tactful in estimating."

The company said the solenoid line had success in Europe, and there is an increased demand in North America, specifically in the automotive industry.

The plungers can be utilized in various automotive applications such as engine air management systems, fuel injection systems, exhaust systems, fuel vapor management systems and solenoid valves for air suspension systems. The line also can be used in industrial applications, pneumatic systems and energy systems.

The solenoid line is customized to customer specifications. Mall said Freudenberg actively is approaching customers in North America and will coordinate with its Kufstin facility to make them until production is operational in Shelbyville.

"We have a very close collaboration between our plant in Austria and our plant in Indiana," he said. "We are able to support from Europe for our start-up phase; there will be no time gap between designing and the production of the part."