Humans and robots working in sync.

No paper. Anywhere.

A manufacturing facility that can be monitored by smart phone.

Faurecia unveiled its newest plant, Columbus South, to the world Tuesday, offering company executives, Columbus officials, educators and the media a sneak peek into the future of digital manufacturing that is now a reality on the former Walesboro Airport site off County Road 450S.

The new $64 million data-driven manufacturing facility just south of Columbus is ramping up for a fully operational start-up in January. About 450 Faurecians, as they are affectionately called, will produce a new, high-tech, emissions-control product for the commercial vehicle industry in the 400,000-square-foot facility. It’s a partnership with Cummins Inc.

Faurecia supplies emissions-control systems and parts for Columbus-based Cummins, among some of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers that form its customer base. They include Ford, General Motors, Fiat, Chrysler and Deere & Co.

Although the plant is still in pre-production mode, the company used Tuesday’s grand opening to bring top Faurecia management from around the globe to Columbus to celebrate the building’s completion and hold a flag-raising. That’s a Faurecia tradition honoring a building’s completion, said Dave DeGraaf, North American Operations division president for Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies.

Among the speakers was Faurecia CEO Patrick Koller, who said Faurecia’s North American region is key to the company. Among the $1 billion invested in the region so far, $100 million has been in Columbus, he said.

Koller attributed much of the company’s success locally to the Columbus workforce and the city’s strong industrial culture — a match for what the company is trying to achieve.

And Columbus is an attractive location for the experts and skilled workforce Faurecia needs to run a plant of this complexity, Koller said in his opening remarks.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.