Fairfield Manufacturing Co. Inc. is preparing for a $53.1-million, three-year capital investment at its Lafayette, Ind., plant as a part of its parent company Oerlikon AG’s program to integrate its Oerlikon Drive Systems segment. Specific details of the investment program were not released, though it’s understood the result will not increase employment there but rather improve production process and capabilities.
The Indiana company produces a range of gear and drive system products, including gearing, custom-designed gear assemblies, and its Torque Hub brand of planetary drives. Oerlikon Drive Systems also includes an Italian company, Graziano Transimissioni. In total, the unit has 14 manufacturing operations and sales offices around the world but it’s now headquartered in Lafayette and headed by Fairfield CEO.
Lehman said because both Fairfield and Graziano are respected leaders in design, development, manufacturing and supply of gear and drive solutions for mobile and industrial machinery applications, the integration of the two as Oerlikon Drive Systems will bring a wider range of capabilities and drive solutions to the global market.
He added that he anticipates increased development of new products and manufacturing technologies.
The new investment follows a reported $47 million invested over the past four years at the Lafayette site. The $53.1-million program is part of a $300-million global investment program in the Oerlikon Drive Systems business segment, according to Lehman. “That investment is significant for the future of Fairfield and is a tribute to the confidence that Oerlikon AG has in the Drive Systems overall business strategy,” Lehman stated.
Fairfield Manufacturing is North America’s largest independent producer of gear and drive systems for off-highway and specialty industrial machinery. Oerlikon AG is headquartered in Pfaffikon, Switzerland, and has six business segments with more than 16,000 employees in 36 countries.
Fairfield and Graziano will continue their own R&D programs and retain their own brands within the Drive Systems division.
Oerlikon Drive Systems will expand its operations in India and China in order to site its capabilities close to its customers. Fairfield’s Atlas plant in India, which makes smaller gear products, will invest $71.4 million to add mid-sized gearing and drive solutions. A new, $55.4-million manufacturing plant in Suzhou, China, will make, assemble and distribute gear and drive systems for the domestic China market.
Other sites will share the remainder of the $300 million.
“Our customers are expanding their global presence by moving into China,” Lehman said. “They are requiring their suppliers to support them in all regions around the world. A decision not to invest or expand into China would adversely impact our business in Lafayette and Europe because these customers would find other suppliers willing to follow them and manufacture globally. We’re not going to let that happen.”