La PORTE, Ind.—Hanover, Germany-based Jaeger-Unitek Sealing Solutions Inc. launched a $1 million four-component extrusion line in its La Porte facility to serve its growing customer base.
The investment, now running at full production, includes three new extruder machines ranging from 3.5 to 1.75 inches, as well as infrastructure to support future extruding production line growth, Ray Young, vice president of engineering at Jaeger-Unitek told Plastics News.
"As we add these new extruders, we upgraded control systems and automation," Young said. "From the extrusion and through into the downstream equipment like lamination, we added a lot of customizable machinery that we had innovative ideas for. That adds a lot of value to our products."
He said the line also includes infrared cutting, printing and dispensing operations.
"We think it complements our existing lines tremendously from both effectiveness and adding capacity with new technology," he added. "We're adding a state-of-the-art, high-capacity, multi-material central drying system. It also complements the existing drying system where we can share different materials back and forth to be very efficient and quick-changing."
Young said the project took about a year to bring together, including procurement of equipment.
Jaeger-Unitek Sales Manager Colton Phelan said the company's roots in the automotive sector boost the quality of practices across the board.
"We were onboarding new OEMs or tiers in the automotive sector and now we're fully prepared to do more," Phelan said.
"We were able to use a lot of our automotive know-how from material selections to applying adhesives and slip coats," he said. "Heavy trucks and trailers have very similar applications to automotive so we're hoping to sort of copy and paste those applications into those segments."
Jaeger-Unitek also has moved into agriculture, medical and wastewater treatment production, he said.
"It's a pretty wide variety of products that we're able to use our quality systems and engineering know-how via the extrusion process to serve all those different markets," Phelan said.
Kevin Casey, president and CEO of Jaeger-Unitek, said new and existing customer growth that sparked demand for the new extrusion line came from the company's automotive base.
"We build on our core segment," Casey said. "We have core competencies of material selection, part design and we apply those materials into new segments including RV, industrial and HVAC."
"We have a little bit of medical business we have expanded in," he added. "We have a proprietary product line now, making products for the aftermarket in some of our customer segments."
Casey said that growth "ultimately" becomes a "new investment in the community."
Jaeger-Unitek expects a 20 percent work force growth at the La Porte facility in 2021, which currently has about 100-120 employees.
"Our greatest strength is our people and how we apply unique materials knowledge to help our customers improve performance and reduce total costs," Casey said in a June 29 news release.