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Jenoptik Opens New Automotive Technical Center

Pat Waurzyniak
By Patrick Waurzyniak Contributing Editor, SME Media

Rochester Hills, MI — Metrology developer Jenoptik AG (Jena, Germany) on Thursday officially opened its new North American technology campus here that will focus on the industrial metrology and laser processing systems used primarily by its automotive OEM and Tier customers.

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Jenoptik’s new Rochester Hills facility will focus on cutting-edge laser processing systems for automotive applications.

Jenoptik invested $16 million in developing the site, which features a 100,000-sq.ft. technical center located on 16 acres. In addition, the company could expand onto additional acreage at the site, if necessary, noted Andreas Blind, Jenoptik vice president, sales, services and marketing, Automotive.

The broad line developer’s portfolio of industrial metrology solutions includes dimensional metrology, form roughness, in-process metrology, laser distance sensors, optical measurement systems, and roughness and contour measurement. Aside from automotive, which is part of Jenoptik’s Mobility segment, the company has major investments in its Optics & Life Science and Defense & Civil Systems segments.

Jenoptik has enjoyed double-digit growth in multiple regions, including a 12% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the Americas and a 16% CAGR in Asia, noted Albert Miranda, president, Jenoptik North America Inc. (Jupiter, FL). At the new location, he said, the company is finding new applications of existing technologies for the automotive sector.

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Automotive suppliers use Jenoptik’s laser processing systems to create front bumpers for today’s cars and trucks in 40 seconds or less, said Andreas Blind, Jenoptik vice president, cutting a wide variety of materials ranging from plastics to the latest metal alloys.

Technology abounds in the new Rochester Hills facility, where Blind said 2-micron accuracies on the shop floor are typical, and high accuracy is essential to an automotive business where 2.5 cars per second are manufactured worldwide. With technologies like the Jenoptik Votan BIM (beam in motion) laser processing systems, automotive manufacturers can use flexible automation to process a front bumper in 40 seconds or less, Blind added.

Automotive OEM and Tier suppliers today are using Jenoptik’s technology to trim and cut a variety of materials, including magnesium and aluminum alloys, he noted. “They’re working with materials that are not so easy to cut,” Blind said. The industry is going more toward 3D cutting, he noted, with newer systems that employ lasers that run through robots. “We’re cutting the car of the future.”

The new Rochester Hills facility features a fully temperature-controlled metrology lab, which Blind said is one of the top three or four metrology labs in the country. In May, Jenoptik’s employees moved into the new building, which Blind said now has about 120 employees including some in Mexico and other off-site personnel. The facility has the capacity to house about 175-225 employees, he added, and it can be expanded to about 150,000 square feet with the additional planned building.

In this first expansion phase, the new facility will devote approximately 50% of its total square footage to production. North America is one of Jenoptik’s strategic target markets with expected above-average growth in the coming years. In 2016, Jenoptik generated around 20% of group revenue, or 135 million euros, in the Americas, and Jenoptik currently employs about 270 staff in the US.

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