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Faurecia launches $64 million smart factory in Columbus, Indiana

faurecia columbus south
Picture credit: Faurecia via

Faurecia has unveiled a $64 million “digital factory”, or smart factory as some call it, which the company says showcases the future of manufacturing.

Faurecia says the Columbus, Indiana-based emissions control technologies plant represents the industrial giant’s digital transformation.

Faurecia, which is a leading automotive technology supplier, says the $64 million Columbus South plant is a “data-driven manufacturing facility”. 

faurecia columbus south
Christophe Schmitt with colleagues at the opening of Faurecia Columbus South

Christophe Schmitt, executive vice president of FECT, says: “This new facility represents a breakthrough for Faurecia in two ways.

“First of all, as a major step forward in the development of our emissions control business for commercial vehicles with an exciting new product for improved air quality.

“Secondly, this plant is our first comprehensive example of our Manufacturing 4.0 initiative incorporating connectivity, automation, data processing and hardware to advance the manufacturing industry.

“We look forward to a successful launch and the continuation of our digital enterprise developments across more of our facilities around the world and across our product lines.”

Columbus South, which occupies 400,000 square feet, will employ 450 people and produce a new, high-tech emissions control product for the commercial vehicle industry.

Mike Galarno, plant manager of Columbus South, says: “This facility represents our entry into Industry 4.0, a revolutionary concept incorporating connectivity, automation, data processing and hardware to advance the manufacturing industry.

“We are proud to be the first plant to incorporate many of these leading technologies under one roof to create efficient systems and an innovative working experience for employees.”

With this facility, Faurecia is driving forward the company’s digital transformation by ushering in technologies that are at the forefront of modern-day manufacturing.

Dave DeGraaf, president of Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies North America, says: “Manufacturing is sometimes stereotyped as dirty and requiring few skills.

“Columbus South contributes to the shifting landscape of the industry to one that is modern, clean and technologically advanced, and aimed at attracting a new generation of employees with different and advanced skillsets.”

The Columbus South facility’s digital environment will feature a variety of new technologies, systems and processes that reflect the improvements of Industry 4.0, including:

  • quality through laser scanning and early detection of variation;
  • self-learning autonomous intelligent vehicles (AIVs) to transport component parts to the assembly line;
  • continuous data collection, which enables employees to predict and prevent equipment failures;
  • a completely paperless environment keeping employees connected and informed with real time information; and
  • an open-concept design and digital screens, laptops and smartphones to encourage collaboration.

In addition to these advancements, Columbus South will also have a combination of collaborative robots, or “cobots,” automated robotic vehicles and visual communication techniques designed to foster real-time collaboration and communication.

Collectively, Columbus South is expected to analyze terabytes of data daily, requiring a full-time, on-site mathematician to continually mine data, cull insights and forecast an issue before it occurs.

DeGraaf says: “Columbus South isn’t only about the product and the processes.

“People have been an important part of the equation. Ultimately, these advanced technologies, like the AIVs and cobots, will enable employees to work more efficiently, experience less physical stress and improve work-life balance.”

The new plant will be an addition to Faurecia’s existing presence in Columbus. It will join Faurecia’s Gladstone Plant and Columbus Tech Center, increasing the number of employees in the region over 2,000.