Locations -- Qubec Joint Venture Focuses On Synergy

Avestor's decision to locate a battery plant in Boucherville allows for close interaction with existing R&D department.

Plant: Avestor Corp., a joint venture of Hyrdo-Qubec and Kerr-McGee Chemical LLC, has built a C$200 million (US$126 million) lithium-metal-polymer (LMP) battery manufacturing plant in Boucherville, Qubec. The plant encompasses 130,000 square feet and is slated to produce about 200,000 units annually. The batteries are one-third the size and one-fifth the weight of comparable lead-acid batteries. They are specifically designed to replace lead-acid batteries in backup systems for the telecommunications industry. The company also has plans to develop units for the automotive and utilities sectors. Production began in September. The plant employs 125 workers. At full production (expected to be in 2004), the plant will employ 350. Corporate Strategy: In 1994 Avestor opened a prototype facility in Boucherville. The initial plant provided the groundwork for development of the new full-scale plant. The company chose Boucherville because the Avestor headquarters and R&D department were already there. The juxtaposition allows for immediate interaction, according to the company. Additionally, since Hydro-Qubec owns a 50% stake in Avestor, a significant portion of the company's operations will remain in Qubec. Because Avestor is targeting the international market, however, it will likely build plants elsewhere in North America and around the world, depending on where demand happens to be for a given product. "The new Avestor plant allows us to bring to market a technology developed by Hydro-Qubec's research center division and then transfer it to Avestor, while maximizing its utilization possibilities in various industrial sectors," says Andr Caill, president and CEO of Hydro-Qubec. Production Strategy: The Avestor plant features specially designed dry rooms that are equipped with production systems engineered to ensure quality control for the Avestor LMP battery -- a series of ultra-thin layers of four materials that are laminated together. Each layer is less than 100 microns thick. The LMP battery is more stable under extreme heat and cold than traditional valve-regulated lead-acid batteries and has a guaranteed life of 10 years. The battery, which is solid-state and has no acid or liquid that can leak, spill or lose potency, is an environmentally preferred alternative to existing technology. The facility's initial battery production rating is 120-megawatt hours. The plant is expandable to 600-megawatt hours as demand increases. Community: Boucherville, population around 40,000, is located on the south shore of Montreal -- just 15 minutes from the city center -- and borders the St. Lawrence River. Culturally rich with a French tradition, Montreal is home to the University of Montreal, Concordia University and McGill University. Locations profiles selected siting and facility strategies by manufacturing companies. Send submissions to Senior Editor John S. McClenahen at jmcclenahen@industryweek.com.

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