BELGIUM: Daikin Europe has boosted production at its factory in Ostend with the installation of a new robotically-fed sheet metal line and a fully automated die warehouse.

The investment is part of Daikin’s Fusion 2025 plan to strengthen the company’s manufacturing abilities in the EMEA region and fulfil the growing demand for sustainable heating solutions such as heat pumps.

The new presses are being used to manufacture the outside metal casing of Daikin’s heat pumps. “Until now we relied on external suppliers for a significant part of our sheet metal work,” explained Steven Van Impe, deputy general manager manufacturing. “With the new presses we will be able to manufacture more of our metal casings within the walls of our factory, which increases our production capacity and quality control. They also support our environmental efforts, because with them, we significantly lower the transport volume of semi-finished sheet metal to our factory.”

Along with the new presses, a number of new technologies are introduced to enhance safety on the factory floor. “Throughout the years, the sheet metal plates we use have been getting bigger in size, making it increasingly difficult for our workers to handle them manually,” said Andy De Wilde, department manager production engineering. “That is why the new presses are now fed by robots. We have also fully automated the warehouse for the dies that are used to press the plates. The dies – which can weigh up to 5 tons – are now automatically removed from storage and loaded onto the presses.”

The extra investment also includes an expansion in the number of its production staff. Daikin will shortly roll out a recruitment campaign to fill more than 200 new vacancies at the Ostend plant.

The investment is part of the Fusion 2025 plan that was announced by Daikin Europe in October 2021. The plan encompasses a total investment of €840m over the next five years.

“Annual sales of heat pumps are expected to increase in Europe from 1 million units in 2021 to over 4 million in 2030. The Fusion 2025 plan will put our company at the forefront of this major transition to a carbon-free society,” said Daikin Europe vice president Hiromitsu Iwasaki.