ELYRIA — An investment of nearly $3 million and growing in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility was celebrated Wednesday as Stanley Engineered Fastening Inc. opened its new facility to dignitaries and invited guests.
The 101,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at 101 Liberty Court will employ 70 people with room to expand and hire more, executives said Wednesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour.
Dozens of employees in black shirts with the Stanley and Nelson Stud Welding brand names on them gathered along with Stanley and Nelson Stud Welding executives, Mayor Holly Brinda, Fire Chief Carl Mack and Michelle Gillcrist, the Northern Ohio regional director for Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, to celebrate the opening of the plant. They also snacked on Stanley- and Nelson-branded sugar cookies.
Plant manager Ryan DiFranco said Stanley is dedicated to “continuing the drive to excellence” at the new plant, which is still is in the process of being renovated. The company spent $2.5 million just to get its machinery in place and upgrade the facilities to how they looked on Wednesday, and is expecting to install another $1.5 million-plus worth of machinery in the coming weeks, he said.
James Ray, vice president for global operations at Stanley Engineered Fastening, said he was “really excited” to see the renovated facility and Stanley’s expansion in Elyria. He said the expansion is one more step toward Stanley Black & Decker’s “22/22” goal: To be a $22 billion company by 2022 by increasing future business and supporting U.S. manufacturing.
“We’re proud to call this home,” Ray said. “We have a culture for winning.”
Brinda presented Ray with a proclamation from the city welcoming Stanley Engineered Fastening to Elyria, and Gillcrist — a South Lorain native and resident of Lorain County — presented him with another signed by DeWine, also welcoming the company’s investment.
Brinda said the city worked with Stanley and Nelson for the past two years on the expansion plans.
“We’re all about more business. This is an example of what happens when local government works with business,” she said. “We appreciate the investment into our community, and we are very excited to be part of your future success.”
The facility is set up for the advanced manufacturing of welded stud fasteners and stud welding equipment carrying the Nelson brand that will be used in the nonresidential construction, shipbuilding and defense industries — “anything that has a steel girder,” Ray said.
Workers were busy bending rebar and assembling cords for Nelson welding guns, among their other duties, during a tour for executives, dignitaries and the media. Data scientists, computer and robotics experts also will be working to improve production there in the near future, executives said.
DiFranco explained that the facility will be a model for Stanley Engineered Fastening’s future facilities using Industry 4.0 production. Also called “the fourth Industrial Revolution,” Industry 4.0 involves data analysis to improve production through the use of cyber-physical systems, the “Internet of things,” cloud computing and cognitive computing.
All the machines in the Liberty Court facility will be internet-compatible and fitted with sensors to collect production data and detect vibrations or temperature changes, said Bill Comeau, senior vice president for global operations at Nelson Fastener Systems on West Ridge Road — also a division of Stanley Black & Decker and where ceramic ferrules and fasteners used in stud welding are manufactured.
The employees at the Liberty Court facility also will one day work alongside collaborative robots, or “cobots,” which will perform many repetitive motion tasks. One of those, by Ready Robotics, was on display Wednesday picking long studs from a line, placing them into a machine that cut them to size, then taking the stud and placing it into a box.
Sensors on the cobot allow workers to step on a pad to stop the production line to adjust machinery or fix a problem, then step off and allow it to continue. This decreases the chances of injury during the manufacturing process. If the robot is bumped or jostled, it also stops production until the sensors give it the go-ahead to continue.
Even as the company invested between $2.5 million and $3 million in the Liberty Court facility, DiFranco said the plant still is expanding. A $1.05 million machine that will manufacture Nelson-brand A706 weldable rebar will be installed within the next two months, he said, and when operational should make back its cost in slightly more than 18 months while allowing construction workers to build faster than with standard rebar.
Comeau said many of the work tables, tools and machines yet to be installed or to be replaced at the Liberty Court facility will all be Stanley Black & Decker brands such as Craftsman, DeWalt, Lista and Stanley. The Nelson facility also is expanding with the help of tax abatement and other credits approved by the city, in a project worth $1.5 million and bringing an additional 25 jobs, Brinda said previously.
The mayor, who tried her hand and succeeded at making a test stud weld during the tour, said she hoped to speak with Stanley Engineered Fastening executives about including the company in the Elyria Works Now! employment program to help them find trained employees.