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From Site Selection magazine, January 2012

Daimler Expands at ‘Birthplace of the Automobile’

Daimler is investing heavily in its main Mercedes-Benz powertrain plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, Germany.

aimler invested €670 million (US$873 million) in 2011 and plans to spend more than €980 million ($1.3 billion) in 2012 on its main Mercedes-Benz powertrain plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, Germany. The funds are being invested in the extension and conversion of various parts of the plant and in the launch of new products and production technologies.

"With full order books behind us, we are investing in our powertrain production to ensure it is fit to face future competition," said Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, member of the Daimler AG Board of Management responsible for Manufacturing and Procurement, Mercedes-Benz Cars and Mercedes-Benz Vans. "These investments represent an important contribution to the implementation of our Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy."

The investments will be allocated to extension and conversion measures and to new manufacturing technologies in the area of axle, transmission and engine production — for the new generation of compact cars. Daimler said €270 million ($352 million) are earmarked at the Hedelfingen subplant for the ramp-up of a new dual clutch transmission, which is being deployed in the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

"Untertürkheim is the birthplace of the automobile," noted Peter Schabert, head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Powertrain production and head of the Untertürkheim plant. "These investments will ensure that we continue to play a role in shaping the ongoing evolution of mobility from our base here."

Container Growth

Weidenhammer Packaging Group has opened a new plant in Bradford, England.


he Weidenhammer Packaging Group (WPG), a major European supplier of composite cans, composite drums and plastic containers, has opened its newest plant in Bradford, West Yorkshire. WPG invested more than €11.5 million ($14.9 million) in the expansion of its U.K. subsidiary.

"The new facility provides plenty of room for growth," said Paul Barber, general manager, Weidenhammer UK. "Along with a well-connected infrastructure, it meets the highest production standards. We are all very happy with the new building and the local working conditions."

Weidenhammer UK is one of the youngest and fastest growing Weidenhammer subsidiaries. In a joint venture with Chesapeake Packaging of the U.S., WPG initially assumed responsibility for composite can production operated by the former Field Packaging in Bradford for a year commencing February 2008. At the beginning of 2009, WPG took over production operations completely and 100 percent of the business. In just three years, annual production increased by 400 percent from 12 million composite cans to around 60 million.

WPG says the new factory building provides the necessary space for further expansion in the U.K. market. Covering approximately 26,000 sq. m. (280,020 sq. ft.), the new plant site is situated near the company's existing plant in Lidget Green.

"We now have ultra-modern production lines that meet the highest hygiene standards along with state-of-the-art quality management," Barber explained. "Our packaging production facility is currently one of the most advanced in the whole U.K." This is also true when it comes to the sustainability of production operations. England's first industrial photovoltaic system for generating solar power has been installed on the roof of the new plant.

"The solar energy system produces practically all the power we need for composite can manufacturing operations at the site," Barber says.

Audio for China

Harman has opened a new audio component factory in Dandong, China.

tamford, Conn.-based audio specialist Harman International Industries has opened a new $100-million factory in Dandong, China, to bolster manufacturing and research capabilities. Harman will use the facility as a manufacturing hub in the development of electronic components and audio systems for the world's leading automakers and professional audio customers.

Two manufacturing facilities will be housed within the 460,000-sq.-ft. (42,734-sq.-m.) facility, which was built specifically to meet Harman's global audio quality standards. The automotive factory at Dandong will produce advanced audio components and systems to meet the increasing demand from not only western and other Asian automakers but Chinese automakers as well. In the past year, Harman has announced contracts for premium branded audio systems from Chinese automakers such as Geely Motors, BYD, and Dongfeng Passenger Vehicle. The second operation in Dandong will house manufacturing for audio electronics and loudspeakers sold under a range of Harman's premium brands in the professional and consumer sectors.

Harman says its products are playing a key role in serving China's investments in infrastructure, by servicing the growing requirement for high-quality audio products at venues such as airports and rail stations, hotels, cinemas, entertainment and sporting complexes, performing arts centers, and megaprojects such as the upcoming Shanghai Disney theme park.

"We have been operating in China for more than 20 years, and the opening of our new facility in Dandong is another example of our long-term commitment to serve our global and local customers  in China," said Dinesh C. Paliwal, the company's chairman, president and CEO. "The facility in Dandong will continue Harman's tradition of developing products and technologies tailored for the specific needs of our customers.

Dandong is the fourth Chinese city to house a Harman facility, as the company maintains manufacturing and R&D operations in Shanghai, Suzhou and Shenzhen, and employs more than 1,200 people in China.

Auto Supplier Expands Globally

Automotive supplier Leoni has opened its 11th facility in China.

ermany-based Leoni, a leading provider of cables and cable systems to the automotive sector and other industries, has opened another production facility in China. The plant will produce wiring systems for the Chinese car market. The overall amount invested totals about €23 million. The Group is significantly enlarging its capacity in other countries as well.

"With this expansion of capacity we will have made sure of being able to fulfill all existing contracts," said Uwe H. Lamann, member of Leoni AG's Management Board in charge of the Wiring Systems Division. "In addition, we are prepared for ongoing growth."

Leoni is benefiting in China from rising demand for established vehicle models, for which the company provides wiring systems. Leoni has also obtained several contracts for additional model ranges of various manufacturers. The new facility has more than 269,250 sq. ft. (25,000 sq. m.) of production area and will employ about 1,600 people when series production commences. The number of employees will eventually rise to 3,000.

Leoni says with its geographic position between Shanghai, Beijing and the port city of Qingdao, Jining meets all the logistical requirements for being able to supply various customers quickly and reliably. Also within easy reach are plants in Weihai and Penglai. Leoni now has 11 facilities in China with a total of about 6,000 employees. In terms of consolidated sales, China represents the third largest market after Germany and France. The company has been operating for 18 years with its own facilities in China.

To be able to satisfy the heavy demand from the automotive industry for cable harnesses and wiring systems, and especially to be able to supply for new vehicle models, Leoni is also setting up new production lines and expanding existing plants in other regions. The Wiring Systems Division alone currently has 12 capital investment projects, involving plans for two new facilities in Egypt as well as one each in the Ukraine and Russia. Additional production facilities are planned in Brazil, Mexico, Morocco, Tunisia and Serbia. After the expansion is completed, the Wiring Systems Division's network will comprise more than 30 production facilities with a total of more than 550,000 sq. m.

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