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Festo expands US-based automation system manufacturing, R&D to mark 50th anniversary

Sept. 12, 2022

Most of the more than 100 guests at the Festo 50th Anniversary Gala held in Cincinnati took pictures with the Bionic Swift and Butterfly – Festo flying robots modeled after nature. From left to right: Frank Notz, Festo Management Board Member; Bill Gerbig, President of Ralph W. Earl; and Mark Snyder, Director of Festo North America Channel Management. (Source: Festo)

To celebrate its 50th anniversary year, Festo U.S. announced expansion plans for its 47-acre campus in Mason, Ohio. A new production facility and the expanded research and development (R&D) center will be dedicated to U.S.-centric automation components, systems and solutions. 

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 advanced automated manufacturing facilities. The GPC will focus on flexible automation in a direct response to provide automation industry customers with custom solutions that are designed to maximize performance and differentiate their machines and systems from the competition.

The Mason GPC is scheduled to begin production by year end and will be the first of its kind in North America for Festo and the twelfth within the company. The most recent GPC was dedicated in Suncun, China, in 2019.

The Mason campus is also the location of the newly expanded Festo Technology Engineering Center (TEC). The expansion is expected to be complete by the end of September. Festo TECs are R&D centers where automation customers can collaborate with Festo personnel to co-develop solutions. Festo personnel can 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.

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.

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. 

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.

Festo U.S. 1972 - 2022

Festo U.S. was established in Port Washington, New York, in 1972 to provide parts and services for the company’s woodworking equipment and line of pneumatic automation components. In 1983, Festo U.S. began producing pneumatic cylinders in the U.S. and launched mobile showrooms that demonstrated the company’s automation technology. Investments in distribution, manufacturing, personnel development, and training steadily followed. 

Festo U.S. headquarters is located in Islandia, New York, on Long Island.

“Being an automation provider requires more than just supplying components,” Miranda said. “Competitiveness for our customers means aiding them in lowering engineering costs and speeding time to market. Adding value requires a supplier that can speak intelligently with customers about their markets and applications in order to offer the components and solutions that are suitable for their end-use customers. Everyone who engages with Festo U.S. knows these are our qualities.”

Currently, Festo U.S. is developing automated solutions for the commercial space industry, electric vehicle manufacture, warehouse automation and the fast-food industry. Festo U.S. continues to support industries already using automation for assembly, testing, food and beverage processing, packaging, and automotive manufacturing, among others.

As part of its 50th Anniversary, Festo U.S. held a gala in Cincinnati, Ohio, in July and will host a second celebration in New York City in October.