Two years after the purchase of the US plant, Fuyao Glass America has and is continuing to undergo important transformation. Thanks to considerable investments, the plant has new equipment and important facilities that will be on show during an Open House this October.
Fuyao Glass America’s plant in Moraine has taken a dramatic transformation in the past two years thanks to half a billion dollars of global investment that will allow it to create the glass for one in four cars on North American roads.
People familiar with the history of the plant will be shocked when the company hosts an open house on 7 October.
New equipment will cover 1.8 million square feet of the facility. A quarter-mile skyway will be overhead. A new public restaurant will be operating just outside. Most importantly, more than 1,500 employees and 800 to 1,000 contractors, vendors, suppliers and partners will be working three shifts, five days a week, shipping more than 250,000 units of glass monthly.
Invited guests will be able to see for themselves the results of a sustained monthly capital investment of up to USD 30 million in the world’s largest automotive glass production site.
What visitors see in October will be just the start. Over the next three years, Fuyao will launch 50 new projects – products for customers or business moved overseas to Moraine from China.
“As we sit here today, we have parts that a year ago were being produced in China being shipped to North American carmakers that today are being produced here in Dayton, Ohio,” Gauthier said.
Fuyao has so far invested USD 700 million in two facilities – each more than 50 years old – in Ohio and Illinois.
If the auto market continues to offer even slow growth, the plant between Kettering Boulevard and Ohio 741 will employ more than 2,000 workers, Gauthier said. The operation has hired about 100 workers per month for the past year and a half.
“We’re still hiring anywhere from 30 to 40 per week or so,” Gauthier said. A group of 80 employees started 20 June.
When fully operational, the plant will supply 25 per cent of all North American automotive glass.
The plant once was a General Motors vehicle assembly operation; it was not designed for heat-generating glass equipment, such as furnaces and heat-treating equipment. When fully operational, there will be 20 electrically powered furnaces on the plant floor.
Fuyao has invested millions on plant ventilation and cooling and has cut seven openings in the plant’s west wall in an effort to promote air flow, Burrow said.
“There’s a lot of heat that’s generated in this facility that needs to be removed,” Gauthier said.
The business also has spent at least USD 2 million on personal protective equipment – shoes, eye-wear, aprons, gloves and more – for workers. In early May, a group of Fuyao Glass America workers filed a formal written complaint with the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, alleging a number of unsafe working conditions at the plant.
Among the complaints: Workers said they were told not to wear protective gloves when handling glass, leaving their hands vulnerable to cuts.
But Gauthier and Burrows say workers have always been told to wear gloves. Some 70,000 pairs of gloves have been purchased since operations slowly began in the summer of 2014.
“Maybe there was a mis-translation,” Gauthier said. “I don’t know. But I can tell you what our policy is, and we’ve re-enforced that policy.”
Another change: The plant has 22 time-clock stations across the plant so there is less crowding at the end of shifts. Fuyao has hired a full-time safety executive and brought on third-party consultants to help gauge air and water quality.
Rhonda Burke, an OSHA spokeswoman, said there are currently four open inspections at Fuyao. OSHA must issue citations, if violations are found, within six months of the date of the inspection, she said. The most recent open inspection at the plant was May 24, she said.