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New technical centre in Cullman, Alabama: Rehau continues to develop production expertise in North America
It is the first "technical centre" the global polymer processor builds on North American soil modelled on German centres. Such a competence centre was already built in Feuchtwangen, the group of company's largest site, in 1996 with measurable success, which REHAU now wants to transfer to the production in Alabama, as Markus Grundmann, automotive CEO at REHAU, explains: "Our technology development projects have been carried out in centres in Germany so far. The findings gained were subsequently used by the development and production teams in Cullman." The new technical centre, which will be built on the Cullman site, will increase the development expertise and productivity as well as secure jobs in the North American automotive division of the company in the region Cullman. The specialist departments logistics, production, painting and injection moulding are supposed to be brought together under one roof in future. 45 engineers will then work in the immediate vicinity of the plant team. The total investment amounts to approximately 20 million Euros.
Future technology developments at the Cullman site will not only be significant for the North American market but also for the REHAU automotive plants in Europe and South Africa in future. "Plant Cullman is already leading in various key areas. Amongst other things, an innovative approach of simultaneous use of water-based and solvent-based paints was developed", says Helmut Ansorge, who is responsible for global production as member of the automotive board of directors.
The new technologies aim to contribute to still meeting the expectations of the automotive manufactures in the South East of the USA, in particular their requirements to check and approve new component designs at a very early stage and to integrate them into their own vehicle design process. In addition to this, the technical centre will serve as a training venue for employees and customers in conjunction with its in-house training department, REHAU Academy, but also with regional universities, technical colleges and professional trade education facilities.
Local architects and construction companies will build the new building into which mainly REHAU products will be installed: highly efficient windows and doors, underfloor heating and cooling systems as well as edgebands for furniture and tambour doors. It is planned to break the ground in spring 2014.
The automotive supplier is currently producing primarily for the customer Daimler in North America and was recently able to secure contracts for the facelift of the GL class in addition to contracts for the C and M classes. The production volume increasing as a result of this made it necessary to extend the plant, which will be completed by spring 2014. To achieve this, the polymer specialist recently invested a further 100 million Euros. This additional extension phase will create approximately a total of 140 new jobs in Cullman.
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