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Further investment worth millions planned at Frauenthal in Elterlein

At the end of 2015, an extensive expansion of the production and storage area was completed at the automotive supplier. Those responsible are hoping above all for an increase in productivity and the optimization of work processes. Meanwhile, the company is concerned about the shortage of skilled workers.

Elterlein. The extensive investments that have flowed into the Elterlein site of Frauenthal Automotive since 2014 will really start paying off this year. Commercial Director Michael Langer is convinced of this. Among other things, he expects a ten percent increase in productivity: "2016 will be the year of optimization."

Around six million euros have been invested in the past two years. Among other things, the production area was expanded by 20 percent, the high-bay warehouse was enlarged, and new machines and equipment were purchased. A key point, he says, was the complete redesign of the transport system. "We moved away from rigid interlinking," Langer says. Now dynamic and flexible transports dominate. Wagon transport, which is physically demanding for employees, has been cut back significantly, he said. This has improved conditions for the workers, he said. Everything should be fixed and ready by the end of February. Only some machines are still missing, Langer said. "However, construction is complete."

The million-dollar investment is primarily intended to maintain competitiveness. "We always have to work at the highest level." To that end, the company, which primarily manufactures compressed air tanks for truck braking systems in Elterlein, is also looking for workers to fill the positions created as a result of the expansion. Currently, around 260 employees are under contract, according to Michael Langer. In the future, that number is expected to rise to nearly 300. But getting good new employees is difficult, he says. That is why Frauenthal Automotive is also relying on Czech personnel. "We are in the favorable position of having a Czech sister plant." As a result, there are hardly any problems at the language level, he says. Documents and work papers are translated by colleagues in the Czech Republic, and employees have also recently been able to choose between languages for the computer system.

And new investments are also planned for this year. "If the supervisory board confirms it, we will invest another 1.3 million euros," explains Michael Langer. The money is to go mainly into further automation. In addition, new exhaust systems are planned to improve air quality and lifting aids to reduce heavy physical labor. Furthermore, some structural additions are to be implemented. Among other things, the expansion of the office floor is planned. The parking lot, which is still unpaved and borders a residential area, is also scheduled for renovation this year. However, the building permit is still missing. If the authorities give their approval, the parking lot is to be paved this year if possible. In addition, the construction of a noise barrier and a modified driveway are planned.

As a result of the investments already made, a new major customer has been acquired. Without the capacity expansions, this would not have been possible, explains the commercial manager, since the Elterlein plant is already working at very high capacity.

Source: Freie Presse

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