Made in USA: Flow Instrument Plant Expansion a Sign of the Times

Sept. 13, 2013
The U.S. manufacturing renaissance is apparent in the Midwest with the $40 million expansion of production facilities by Endress+Hauser, maker of instrumentation and automation products.

Magnetic flowmeters for the water/wastewater industry. Ultrasonic flowmeters for the oil and gas industry. Level, pressure and flow instruments of many types for chemical, food & beverage and life sciences industries. Use of these core automation technologies are increasing globally. Expansion in the U.S. happening as well, driven largely by a surge of activity in oil and gas projects.

Analysts say credit for a boost in flowmeter sales also goes to increasing adoption of intelligent field devices such as ultrasonic and coriolis flow meters, whose repeatability and reliability help process industry manufacturers improve the accuracy of their flow measurements.

Key flowmeter vendors, such as ABB Ltd., Emerson Electric Co., Siemens AG, Invensys plc and Yokogawa Electric Corp. are preparing for the surge, but perhaps none more so than Endress+Hauser AG. This family-run, Switzerland-based measurement engineering specialist has invested $40 million dollars in new plants and calibration capabilities in the U.S. to serve its customers in North and South America with more U.S.-sourced products.

The investment has added more than 200,000 square feet of manufacturing space, adding production lines and space for future expansion. All buildings were built to LEED standards, and will meet targets for recycling, use of natural light, energy efficiency and more. Even though the manufacturing space has nearly doubled, the projected energy usage has not increased. This is the result of the company’s use of geothermal technology for all its HVAC needs, as well as technology like intelligent systems for light and temperature control.

 During the inauguration ceremony for the two new buildings, CEO Klaus Endress said that producing, assembling and calibrating its products locally is one of the central business strategies of the company, which has 27 production centers and more than 140 locations globally. “This expansion gives us the chance to increase capacity and to produce additional lines of instruments locally,” stressed Endress. “We want to move our production as close as possible to our customers.”

“After years of strong growth, this will make us fit for the future,” added Managing Director John Schnake. The company first began operations in the U.S. in 1970 and, since that time, has invested an average of 10 percent of its annual revenue into its U.S. infrastructure, he said.

Production centers in Germany and Switzerland manufacture core components, which are shipped to Indiana for further fabrication and assembly. The plant for level and pressure engineering moves into a new building with more than 105,000 square feet of ground area directly next door. The additional production areas will increase the scope of production and allow more products to be delivered directly from the Greenwood plant.

The vacated space in that building will allow for a new visitor and training center for the U.S. sales organization, according to Todd Lucey, managing director of the U.S. sales center. He added, “More than 80 percent of the measurement instruments we deliver in the USA today are now made in the USA.” The Indiana site also serves all of North America, shipping product to Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina.

Expansion of the five-year-old building focused on flowmeter production added nearly 85,000 square feet of additional space. “The systems for calibrating flowmeters, unique on the continent, have now grown to include the latest technology for gas calibration,” said Managing Director Hans-Peter Blaser. A tour of the plant included a look at the main flow calibration rig, and new calibration area that can provide 10x the calibration accuracy for customers that request it.

More than 700 people work for Endress+Hauser in the United States, while a network of 350 partner sales engineers and service technicians supports customers nationwide. Endress+Hauser also manufactures sensors for liquid analysis in Anaheim, Calif., while its Houston subsidiary, SpectraSensors, specializing in gas analysis, operates a plant in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

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