MIDDLETOWN, Del.—The sealing unit of Datwyler Holding A.G. celebrated the grand opening of its new medical manufacturing plant in Middletown. The site represents a $100 million investment, spans 200,000 square feet and will employ 120 when fully operational.
The facility is projected to produce up to 1 billion components per year at the completion of Phase 1. Datwyler said at the completion of Phase 2, the site's full capacity will be at least 2 billion components annually.
"There is huge growth potential for us growing significantly above the market because of the new plant we have here," said Torsten Maschke, CEO of Datwyler Sealing Solutions. "The health care market is growing. We see a positive outlook as well in the U.S. This is exactly what our new plant is targeting."
Middletown will produce high quality elastomer components for pharmaceutical containers and injectable drug delivery systems. It will be the second among Datwyler's global network—and first in the U.S.—to utilize Datwyler's most advanced clean room manufacturing cleanliness standards, dubbed "FirstLine."
All Datwyler facilities using FirstLine operate the latest state-of-the art equipment and techniques to eliminate all forms of bio-contaminations. The firm first utilized these standards at its medical operation in Belgium. It also is in the process of starting up a third FirstLine site in India.
Maschke said the U.S. medical market is significantly growing and this plant will help Datwyler capture those opportunities.
"It's a benchmark plant," Maschke said. "That's the feedback we received from our customers. We've set the bar significantly higher in the industry here."
Cleanliness is key to success in the medical industry. Maschke said the facility utilizes a high degree of robotics and automation with very little interaction with humans. The plant's visitor center consists of a walkway on the second floor so customers can see everything without entering the production area, eliminating the possibility for further contaminations.
"We've increased the cleanliness level of our manufacturing system," said David Clark, Datwyler's vice president of operations for the Americas. "We're going to be producing parts with less particles, and that's where the medical and pharmaceutical business is heading to in the U.S.—cleaner and cleaner products."
The new plant is just the latest in a series of moves that have significantly enhanced Datwyler's footprint in the Americas. The firm finalized an agreement to acquire Bins Industria de Artefatos de Borracha Ltda., an automotive sealing manufacturer located in Poto Alegre, Brazil. It marks the first manufacturing site for Datwyler in the South American region and will allow it to funnel its products through that site to serve local customers.
It's in the process of finalizing its acquisition of Parco Inc., a U.S.-based manufacturer of O-rings for a variety of industries, primarily oil and gas, which represents a new market for Datwyler.
If approved, which Maschke said should happen in the coming weeks, the deal would bring four facilities into Datwyler's overall footprint, in Ontario, Calif.; Montgomery, Texas; Dallas; and Gray, La.
"We always consider our global footprint," Maschke said. "For each of our different industries, we want to play a major and a leading role in that industry. For health care, it was a logical step to invest in a plant capable of producing the high value products here in order to support the local demand."