LOS ANGELES—Coi Rubber Products Inc. is expanding its operation again, this time with a 100,000-sq.-ft. addition to its manufacturing facility in Anhui Wuhu, China.
The newest expansion is the second phase of a project Coi Rubber launched in 2015, shortly after completing construction of the 250,000-sq.-ft. factory, called Wuhu Coi Rubber Products Ltd. The company also closed an older plant located about 30 minutes away from the new site.
Coi Rubber, which was formed in 2013, completed phase one of the project in 2018. That called for the continuous addition of new, more modern machinery and an expansion of the company's work force, which started out with 150 workers and has grown to more than 450 at the facility in China, according to David C. Chao, co-founder and president of the business.
He said phase two of the expansion project involves construction of the 100,000-sq.-ft., three-story addition to the Anhui Wuhu factory with a focus on increasing the company's material compounding, tooling, research and development, and laboratory operations.
Construction of the addition began in November, and Chao anticipates it will be completed in the second quarter of 2021.
In addition, he said, new machinery with mixers—more than quadrupling the firm's material compounding capacity—will be added. Once that's done, "we will have the opportunity to supply materials to local China molders, especially highly engineered compounds such as silicones, fluorosilicones … and other exotic materials."
More automation, technology
Chao noted that the firm is investing in more automation and additional technology at the Anhui Wuhu facility, which will allow the company to double its output with a work force reduction of about 20 percent.
"That will translate to a benefit for our global customers," including those in the U.S., he added.
Coi Rubber also has about 15 employees at its U.S. offices and warehouse. It is likely that number will grow in the future, but not now.
Chao said the company's original plans of connecting two sites "to double our office space to 6,000 square feet (at its site in the U.S.) to hold a staff of approximately 35 has been put on hold due to COVID-19 and other factors such as national trade rules." He added that warehouse space remains intact with about 35-40 container stocking capacity.
A key part of phase two calls for the business to get its laboratory at the Anhui Wuhu plant certified by Chinese authorities "to be able to operate a national association laboratory in China that allows us to test and certify for other plants and molders," he said.