AutoLiv in Tilbury is expanding by roughly 25 per cent over the next 18 months, good news for a local manufacturing sector that could use some.

The airbag manufacturer recently wrapped up a project started in 2013 that increased production by one million units per year. The latest project looks to increase production by an additional 2.6 million units and would require a building expansion.

The expansion comes as a result of increased industry demand.

“The million is a 10 per cent increase, roundabout,” plant manager Peter Metcalfe said. “And then the new looms we’re installing … give us about a 25 per cent increase. It’s a pretty big step for us.”

The project will take a little more than a year to complete. Metcalfe says their current focus is on building specifications and contractor reviews followed by building construction.

“Building construction we’re still try to confirm,” Metcalfe said. “We believe it will be late summer or fall this year … the building itself will take about six months to complete. And then the equipment install will likely be somewhere between three to six months.”

AutoLiv employs about 215 employees today. More are expected to be created as a result of the expansion, but with a more heavily automated system that growth will likely not reflect the size of expansion.

“The majority of the jobs will be related to construction,” Metcalfe said. “In terms of the actual job creation with manufacturing jobs is still being determined … we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be right now. Because we’ve got some automation solutions that will limit the total number of jobs.

“We’re a very highly-automated process,” Metcalfe added.

AutoLiv manufactures side airbag inflatable curtains meant to protect occupants in rollover accidents.

The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Story courtesy of Chatham This Week