RENNES, France—Cooper Standard Automotive Inc. has launched a project to expand its manufacturing footprint in France as demand continues to grow for its anti-vibration and sealing systems.
The company is investing around $57 million in upgrading its sealing weatherstrip production site in Vitre while building a new production plant at its site in Rennes, Brittany, according to Sylvain Broux, the head of the French operation and European engineering vice president.
“At Rennes, we are erecting a new plant at the site of the old Citroen factory, which we bought in 2011, and the plant will be delivered in July,” Broux said.
Production then will move into the new building and the old building will be demolished by 2018.
The building will span 215,000 square feet and will be home to AVS systems manufacturing as well as the local research and development center, he said.
The capacity, said Broux, already has secured a “big project” with car maker Ford.
“We have tried to make the new plant efficient in every way, using Industry 4.0 tools and technology,” Broux said. “In terms of Industry 4.0, we have virtually designed the whole site in 3D, so one can pay a virtual visit to the plant.”
This, he said, allows plant engineers to move machinery appropriately and see, in simulation, if everything is going well.
The virtual modeling also will help material flow at the plant.
A consortium involving Schneider Electrics as well as a number of local startups have been involved in developing technology for the plant.
In Vitre, where Cooper Standard makes automotive seals, the company is increasing its production area by 32,000 square feet to 323,000 square feet to house some equipment from Rennes and to expand production.
“Vitre is such a full-on site and is fast growing in sales,” Broux said.
The site has increased its annual sales from $102 million in 2009 to around $136 million in 2015. The plant, he said, supplies all European car manufacturers as well as some auto makers further away, including South Korea's Hyundai.
The consortium will improve technology as part of the expansion.