The Watts Water Technologies family rolled out the proverbial red carpet in June as the company officially cut the ribbon on its new 30,000-sq.-ft. lead-free plumbing products foundry in Franklin, N.H.
Wattshosted New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan and Franklin Mayor Kenneth Merrifield along with other civic and company leaders, as well as a host of customers and media members. The multimillion-dollar foundry is an expansion of the company’s Franklin operations and is dedicated to the products that will be compliant with the upcoming Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, effective Jan. 4, 2014.
“This is a great day for our company and its employees, our industry and the Franklin community,” Watts Water Technologies President and CEO David Coghlansays. “It will enable us to be the ‘safe choice’ for lead-free products since we can eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination of materials. It also will enable us to provide efficient and timely availability of products.”
Construction on the new foundry started in August 2012, began operations in May 2013 and was fully operational in June. Watts Water’s Franklin operation opened in 1959 and has undergone 16 expansions. The Franklin facilities have tripled in square footage and the workforce has grown from 30 employees to more than 500.
The foundry will produce many lead-free versions of products such as backflow preventers and pressure regulators that can be used in potable water applications. It features a 130-ton silo for sand that lasts the foundry about two weeks. The new foundry uses more than 80,000 lb. of sand per day.
During the event, Watts took attendees on a tour of the foundry, showcasing the types of products that will be manufactured there. Watts stated it will make 5,500 regulators per day with 28 people working during the two-shift operation. Until 2005, Watts Water manufactured its line of Webster valves in China. The company now manufactures leaded and lead-free versions of the Webster valve in Franklin and has cut the manufacturing process down from four hours to 10 minutes.
“We’re really excited about investing in our foundry,” Watts Water Vice President Tim O’Neilsays. “We’re investing in the United States and we take that very seriously. We’re showing what our country can once again do in manufacturing.”
The fully automated operation includes state-of-the-art equipment, including an automated muller, overhead conveyor belts and auto-pour furnaces. Two major objectives the foundry needed to reach to protect investors and customers were efficiently manufacturing lead-free products and eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination.
Dan Hilton, the http://www.asa.net/American Supply Association’s director of government affairs, was on hand for the ribbon cutting and said he walked away impressed with Watts’ new no-lead foundry.
“Opening new plants doesn’t happen as much now as we’d like to see,” he says. “Watts is bringing back domestic manufacturing to the United States and that doesn’t happen every day. What Watts is doing is inspiring.”