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MPC starts production
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Warren County’s newest industry is up and running in Morrison.
Miniature Precision Components has been producing plastic engine shields at its local facility since mid-January and currently has 12 employees working on one shift.
Warren County native Chris Burton has been hired as plant manager to oversee an operation that has great growth projections.
“This is currently a 50,000-square-foot facility with long-term expectations for a 150,000-square-foot facility,” said Burton. “The idea for this plant is to be strategically located in the Southeast United States to better serve our customers here. As current part programs are moved here, and as we bid on new parts and they are awarded, this plant will continue to grow.”
MPC is operating at the county’s second spec building at Mt. View Industrial Park. The building was designed to easily accommodate two 50,000-square-foot expansions.
The first part rolling off the production line is an engine shield for the Nissan Altima, which is produced in Smyrna and Canton, Miss. MPC is currently producing 480 engine covers per shift.
The next line, to begin arriving in late May or early June, is a carbon canister that deals with emission control. It will be used for a Volkswagen vehicle manufactured in Chattanooga.
Burton says several local employees will travel to an MPC facility in Wisconsin to train on the equipment before it is disassembled and brought to Warren County. That procedure was followed for the first line when Crystal Hillis, Sean Finger and Daniel Taylor all trained in Wisconsin.
While all employees are currently learning the ropes on one shift, a three-shift operation is on the horizon. That will include five employees on first shift, and four employees each on second and third shifts.
Burton says Nissan engine covers will be produced 24 hours a day, five days a week.
“Current customer volume dictates that we run 24-5 and we’re working to meet that demand,” Burton said.
The engine cover is made through a process called injection molding that starts with tiny pieces of plastic called resin. That resin arrives in large boxes in bulk.
Because plastic inherently absorbs water, it is dried for four hours to ensure it has a low moisture content. The plastic is then liquefied under 400-degree heat before it’s shot into a 12,600-pound mold that is pushed together using a 1,500-ton clamping force press.
The press is held together for 45 seconds. When the press opens, a robotic arm extends down into the press, grabs the part, and carries it over to a conveyor belt. The entire cycle for one engine cover takes about 60 seconds.
The engine covers are then cooled, trimmed, affixed with foam, inspected, and placed in a box for shipping.
Burton says workers with MPC’s launch team have already evaluated the local facility to determine the best layout for future lines and the company is constantly searching for new automotive work.
“We’re looking for any part under the hood that can be converted from metal to plastic,” he said.
Headquartered in Wisconsin, MPC was founded in 1972 by Jay and Shirley Brost and currently has around 1,500 employees. In addition to Warren County, it has four facilities in Wisconsin, one in Michigan, one in Arizona, one in Mexico, and one in Japan.