Modular builder Katerra shutters Phoenix factory as it prepares to open ‘most technologically advanced’ plant in Tracy, CA

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Modular builder Katerra says it will be closing its first factory in Phoenix, AZ, as it prepares to open a new building components factory in Tracy, CA.

“As our most technologically advanced factory to date, Tracy provides a template for our future component factories and offers insight into how Katerra is applying technology offsite to reduce time to completion at the project site,” the company said in a statement published last week.

The company plans to shutter its 250,000-sq. ft. semi-automated Phoenix factory by end of the year. It opened the plant in 2017.

“We have invested significantly in developing proprietary automation technologies for our Tracy factory,” Matt Ryan, Katerra’s head of manufacturing, said in the news release. “Tracy features 30 fixed robots, 12 mobile robots, and a digital manufacturing process using Self-Guided Vehicle technology. It is a step-change from our Phoenix factory, accelerating Katerra’s production of high-quality building components manufactured to precision.”

The construction of the facility is mostly complete, with activity now focused on finishing the R&D lab, office space, and showroom. “We are beginning the operation of the production lines in stages, and we’re already shipping products from our window, cabinet, roof truss, and floor truss lines. We have also begun construction of a rail spur, which will be completed in early 2020,” Katerra says.

“We have hired nearly 200 full-time employees to date. By the end of 2020, we expect to reach full production with three shifts and more than 500 employees who will have the opportunity to learn and operate some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment available in the industry. At full capacity, the factory will be able to produce, on an annual basis, the equivalent of 12,500 multifamily units.”

About 200 workers in Phoenix have been given 90 days notice that their work will end.

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