REHAU opens technical center in Alabama

Sept. 14, 2015
REHAU has opened a $3 million, 12,000-sq. ft. automotive technical center adjacent to the company’s manufacturing facility in Cullman, Ala.

REHAU has opened a $3 million, 12,000-sq. ft. automotive technical center adjacent to the company’s manufacturing facility in Cullman, Ala. It is the REHAU Automotive group’s first technical center to be located in North America.

The opening of the company’s state-of-the-art technical center marks the completion of a multi-phase project that also includes a significant expansion to its automotive production facilities completed in 2014. The project represents a major investment in the Cullman location and underscores REHAU’s position as the top manufacturing employer in the region.

"REHAU's continued investment in Cullman has a vital impact on the local workforce and economy,” Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said. “REHAU has been a great partner in job creation, and I am honored that REHAU decided to open its first US technical center in Alabama. This decision speaks volumes about the capabilities of the state’s automotive sector and our workforce."

The technical center facilities provide an ultra-modern working space for 45 engineers and enable REHAU to bundle production, engineering and development capacities together in one location.

 “Our new technical center allows research and development functions as well as new design initiatives to take place right beside production while keeping jobs related to our North American automotive business in the Cullman region,” explained Holm Riepenhausen, president of REHAU Automotive LLC. “This streamlines workflow and productivity while offering an increased level of efficiency and service to automotive manufacturers in the Southeastern US,” he added. “OEMs will even have the option to review, approve and integrate new component designs earlier in the vehicle design process without going far from their own production sites,” he said.

The plant currently produces bumpers, spoilers and rocker panels for manufacturers including BMW, Mercedes and Nissan. Recent improvements in production further increase efficiency by speeding the flow of materials through the plant.

“Previously, most developments took place at REHAU technical centers in Germany and were then transferred to Cullman with late involvement of the local team here in Alabama,” said Albert von Pelser, REHAU Cullman Plant Manager. “Now, process developments for products REHAU manufactures for the US automotive market will be done mainly in Cullman,” he said. “Our process engineering team has already been working to develop new technologies that REHAU is considering for introduction to our other plants,” he added.

Von Pelser also commented on the support of local government and agencies. “Our success is the result of the combined efforts of those working in Cullman and throughout our international REHAU network, and can also be attributed to notable and ongoing support from the State of Alabama, the City and County of Cullman, the Cullman Economic Development Agency and the Industrial Development Board of the City of Cullman.”

The technical center will be dedicated to continuous development of part design and production processes as well as injection molding, paint, fabrication and supply chain processes. Staff will have access to expanded and localized laboratory testing capabilities, reducing the need to send prototype components and systems to either REHAU’s North American headquarters facility in Leesburg, Va. or overseas to facilities in Germany.  

REHAU also plans to use the facility as a training venue for technical center employees and customers in conjunction with its professional training department, REHAU Academy. The company has also partnered with local educators to offer paid apprenticeships through the Cullman County School System’s Fast Track for Industry program and Wallace State Community College. 

REHAU delivers “Unlimited Polymer Solutions,” and is the premium worldwide brand for polymer-based innovations and systems in construction, automotive and industry. The company generates continuous growth through its expertise and innovative capabilities in materials development, systems design and surface technology. Approximately 19,000 employees at more than 170 locations around the world ensure success of the independent, privately held company.

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