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From Site Selection magazine, March 2012

Brick Work

Lego plans a massive new plant in Hungary.

lobal toy maker Lego plans to commence construction this summer on a new €125-million (US$166-million) factory complex near Nyíregyháza, Hungary, to manufacture its Lego and Duplo brand products. The company says the first phase, a nearly 13,000-sq.-m. (140,000-sq.-ft.) pallet warehouse, will be completed in 2012.

The second phase, set for completion 2015, will have facilities for molding, decorating and assembly. The factory will be equipped with 450 molding machines, with room for expansion.

Lego currently employs 1,300 during peak production months at a facility leased from Flextronics in Nyíregyháza ("nee'rej-hä'zô"), a city in northeast Hungary north of Debrecen.

"Existing production at Nyíregyháza has proved capable of delivering high-quality products at competitive prices," said Jens Peter Clausen, managing director. "However the current factory and flow is not supporting Lego Group requirements. The factory investment is based on long-term plans, demonstrating that the Lego Group believes the Nyíregyháza area is the right place for Duplo production for many years to come."

The Lego Group expects to create 250 new jobs over the next four years and is eligible for a government subsidy in Hungary. The company says part of the subsidy will be invested in creating a modern, energy-friendly factory drawing upon sources of renewable energy.

The safety and logistics for workers and visitors will also be a considerable part of the re-investment.

"We receive many inquiries from groups wanting to visit the factory, and we organize an average of about two tours a week — kindergartens, schools, universities and so on," Clausen says. "Huge numbers of children visit our premises. We look forward to welcoming them at our new premises."

Cambodia’s First Motor Plant

Japanese firm Minebea is establishing a manufacturing base in Cambodia.

okyo-based machinery components manufacturer Minebea has opened the first building of its precision motor plant in Cambodia's Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (PPSEZ). Minebea was granted an operating permit by the Cambodian government in December 2010 to become the first motor manufacturer in Cambodia, and started small-scale production at a leased facility located within the PPSEZ last April. The new 28,000-sq.-m. (301,560-sq.-ft.) factory opened in December.

"Minebea's success could trigger a host of new investments as well as dozens of new foreign investments," said Minebea President and CEO Yoshihisa Kainuma during plant-opening ceremonies.

The Cambodian plant will use parts supplied by Minebea's major production facilities in neighboring Thailand and Malaysia to produce precision motors for the office automation equipment, home appliance and digital equipment markets.

Minebea plans to invest ¥5 billion (US$64 million) into building additional plant facilities with an eye toward making the plant a large-scale mass-production facility employing up to 5,000 workers.

Minebea says the transfer of labor-intensive assembly processes to Cambodia will enable it to enhance its production efficiency across Asia.

Energizing Europe

Midtronics officially opened its new European headquarters in Houten in January.

attery management specialist Midtronics has moved into a new European headquarters facility in Houten, the Netherlands. The Willowbrook, Ill.-based company anticipates strong growth opportunities in start-stop systems, hybrid/electric vehicles and power applications. The expansion includes major investments in engineering, sales, marketing and operations.

"This expanded facility will help Midtronics continue to advance battery management with our customers in Europe," said Steve McShane, Midtronics' president and CEO. "Our continued investment in key resources that help create value for our customers is crucial to driving ongoing success and growth in the European market."

McShane, who also founded the company in 1984, was inducted into the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame in 2011. Midtronics b.v. was established in Ijsselstein, the Netherlands, in 1990.

BASF Plans €1-Billion Expansion

BASF has a major expansion program planned for its Ludwigshafen, Germany, complex.

ASF announced in January that it will build a single-train 300,000-metric-tons-per-year (mtpy) production plant for TDI (toluene diisocyanate) and expand additional plants for its precursors at its site in Ludwigshafen. These include the construction of a new hydrogen chloride recycling plant as well as the expansion of plants for nitric acid, chlorine and synthesis gas. The company also plans to expand the aromatics complex at the site for the supply of toluene.

Total investment including the required infrastructure at Ludwigshafen will be about €1 billion (US$1.3 billion) and create around 200 additional jobs. Production will start at the end of 2014. BASF plans to close down its 80,000-mtpy TDI production plant in Schwarzheide, Germany, when the new plant goes on stream. TDI is a key component mainly used for flexible polyurethane foams.

BASF uses the German word "Verbund," which means integration, to describe its manufacturing philosophy. The company says the expansion, which will give it economies of scale in Europe, promotes that philosophy.

"Building our new TDI plant at our largest Verbund site in Ludwigshafen gives us the advantage of the excellent production synergies, raw material integration and logistics," said Wayne T. Smith, president of BASF's Polyurethanes division. 

TDI is a core component for polyurethanes, and its largest uses are in the automobile and furniture industries. BASF is a leading supplier of basic products for polyurethanes and is currently operating TDI plants in Geismar, La.; Yeosu, Korea; Caojing, China; and Schwarzheide, Germany.

Renault-Nissan Plant Goes Green

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has opened a massive assembly plant in Tangier.

ing Mohammed VI inaugurated the new Renault-Nissan Alliance plant in Tangier, Morocco, on Feb. 9 at a special ceremony attended by Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Renault and Nissan. The Alliance has invested €1 billion (US$1.3 billion) in the plant, which has an annual production capacity of 400,000 vehicles. It is the southern Mediterranean basin's biggest automotive plant, with plans to employ an estimated total staff of more than 6,000 by 2015.

The Alliance will produce two "entry" models, the new family car, Lodgy, and a small van which will also be available in passenger car form. In addition to permitting higher production volumes, the Alliance says the new factory will enable the entry range to expand, along with the models manufactured at the existing Pitesti (Romania) and SOMACA (Casablanca, Morocco) plants which are currently running at capacity.

The Alliance claims the plant is the world's first zero-carbon and zero-effluent automotive plant. CO2 emissions have been slashed by 98 percent compared to an equivalent factory with a production capacity of 400,000 vehicles per year, a feat which represents an annual savings of 135,000 metric tons of CO2. The factory won't discharge any industrial wastewater into the environment, and the total amount of water necessary for manufacturing has been reduced by 70 percent. The Alliance says this was achieved through innovative production processes and the employment of renewable energies and optimized water recycling management.

‘Morning Star’ Rises

Unilever’s new plant in Durban, South Africa, stresses energy efficiency.

nilever has opened a new production facility in Durban, South Africa, one of that country's largest private investments since the 2010 World Cup. The new plant is named Indonsa — "Morning Star" in IsiZulu — and produces brands such as Knorr, Robertson's, Knorrox, Aromat and Rajah.

Unilever says the plant has the capability to become the company's biggest dry food site in the world. It has been designed to produce 65,000 tons of product per year and has an expansion capability of up to 100,000 tons. The 22,000-sq.-m. (236,940-sq.-ft.) factory is equivalent to three soccer fields.

Rob Davies, South Africa's minister of trade and industry, said the investment resonates with the objectives and priorities of South Africa's Industry Policy Action Plan (IPAP). Indonsa is a global first for Unilever in terms of advancing its focus on advanced sustainable "green" technology. It is Unilever's second largest plant in the world and its fifth plant in South Africa. Globally Unilever operates 250 plants selling about 170 billion products in 180 countries annually.

"The advanced technology in operation at Indonsa sets new global standards in responsible and sustainable dry food production. It embodies our resolve to simultaneously improve the lives of people and to entrench respect for the environment," said Marijn van Tiggelen, chairman for Unilever South Africa.

Carbon reduction is achieved by using energy efficiently with controlled zoned lighting throughout the plant, while innovative insulation methods reduce heat loads from the sun to minimize air conditioning requirements. Super-efficient motors drive mixers and air compressors.

Rain falling on the roof is channeled into a 1.5-million-liter (396,300-gallon) tank, treated and added to recycled water. The application of smart water efficiency technology virtually eliminates municipal supply, enabling the recovery of 70 percent of all water used in production phases. Captured and treated condensate from air-conditioning is used to clean toilets. All process and shower water is recycled via biological and reverse osmosis treatment.

Indonsa's solid waste is recycled to levels where nothing goes to landfill. This is achieved by using recoverable packaging materials. Product waste will be designated for composting in local gardens that support poor communities, while a waste energy plant converts excess and the resultant energy is fed back into the national energy grid.

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