Festo Expands U.S.-Based Manufacturing, R&D

Festo U.S., celebrating its 50th anniversary year, has announced expansion plans for its 47-acre campus in Mason, Ohio. Particularly, a new production facility and an expanded research and development (R&D) center will be dedicated to U.S.-centric automation components, systems, and solutions. Festo, a US$3 billion family-owned company, is a global innovation leader in pneumatic and electric automation systems.

Visitors at the 50th anniversary celebration pose with the Bionic Swift and Butterfly – Festo flying robots modeled after nature.

Festo Global Production Center

The campus, 30 miles north of Cincinnati, will be the site of a new Festo Global Production Center (GPC), the designation for the company’s most advanced automated manufacturing facilities. The GPC will focus on flexible automation. This was made as a direct response to Festo customers who want custom solutions that serve to maximize performance and differentiate their machines and systems from the competition.

The Mason GPC is scheduled to begin production by year end. It will be the first of its kind in North America for Festo and the 12th within the company. The most recent GPC was dedicated in Suncun, China, in 2019 and is a leader in high-volume automated production.

Festo Technology Engineering Center

The Mason campus is also the location of the newly expanded Festo Technology Engineering Center (TEC).  The expansion is expected to complete by the end of September. Festo TECs are R&D centers where customers collaborate with Festo personnel to co-develop solutions. Festo personnel also engage in market-focused product and system development at a TEC.

This is the second Festo TEC in the U.S. The first facility opened in 2018 in Billerica, Mass., and is devoted to Life Science solutions, including precision liquid handling and mechatronic systems for high-speed automated laboratory equipment. Personnel at the Billerica TEC developed solutions for automating COVID vaccine production and high-speed automated testing for COVID infections.

Festo Mason Campus

The 47-acre Festo Mason campus is currently comprised of three buildings totaling 565,000 square feet. The seven-year-old complex houses the Festo North America logistics and warehouse center. This fully automated replenishment and inventory facility receives, stores, and ships a large selection of the 30,000-item Festo catalog throughout North America. Systems within the center can pick 10,000 products per day without an error. The storage capacity end-to-end is 35 miles long with automated material handling equipment that can accelerate faster than a sports car.

Festo Mason campus

The Mason campus is also the site of the Festo North America production center where products are assembled and customized. These products include valve terminals, gantry robots, robotic surgical arms, automated pipettes for laboratory devices, and systems for semiconductor manufacture to name a few. Personnel at the production center have the expertise and the digitized systems available that enable a high level of customization. The new GPC will expand these capabilities exponentially through flexible automation.

Festo Didactic North America recently relocated to the Mason facility. Festo Didactic supports educators, educational institutions, and industries to develop the workforce of today and tomorrow through both hands-on and digital learning experiences.

“As Festo builds on its remarkable past as an automation innovator, we confidently forge ahead toward the future,” said Carlos Miranda, CEO, Festo Business Region North America. “Festo U.S. is growing year over year. We are penetrating new markets as we continue to build on our strong position in the U.S.

“The post-Covid world is changing,” Miranda continued. “Supply-chain issues and other disruptions are causing regionalization and localization to rise. This means the U.S. must expand manufacturing. With a shortage of skilled labor, automated production and training of automation technicians will play an increasing role in U.S. manufacturing growth. As an automation provider and training specialist, Festo’s mission is to support our customers in becoming more productive, more efficient, and more competitive.”

Festo was founded in 1925 by Gottlieb Stoll in Esslingen, Germany, near Stuttgart. Festo started as a machine shop that manufactured specialized woodworking machinery. In 1950, Gottlieb’s son, Kurt, realized the potential of pneumatics while at a U.S. trade show. Rapid growth followed due to the company’s capabilities in automation.