Continental A.G. has broken ground on a $60 million “high-performance technology center” at its tire plant in Korbach, dedicated to the production of tires in the 18- to 22-inch rim diameter range and to developing advanced manufacturing methods.
Conti expects manufacturing at the 12,900-sq.-ft. “factory within a factory” to start by July 2016, with annual production of about 350,000 tires at full capacity.
In addition to the tire capacity, the unit will be tasked with developing and optimizing production processes that will be used in other Continental tire factories, the company said.
Nikolai Setzer, head of Conti’s Tire Division and a member of the executive board, called the unit an “extension of our research and development department” that will enable the company to upgrade production technology for ultra-high performance tires. He added that the project will demonstrate to the firm’s original equipment customers that Conti is “acting in their interests by pushing ahead with technological advances so we can offer even better products in the future.”
The unit, considered part of Conti’s “Vision 2025” investment program, will create 60 jobs, Conti said. Construction should be complete by May 2015, with operations to start by September on a test basis, according to Lothar Salokat, manager of the Korbach plant.
Salokat said the center also will carry out trials on a range of different compounds and production stages. The plan is to use the tires produced as part of this process for testing purposes.
The Korbach factory itself opened in 1908. Today it makes passenger, motorcycle and industrial tires, with a workforce of about 3,400. Capacity is listed as 9 million units a year.