Auburn plant expansion to support COVID-19 vaccine effort

Auburn plant expansion to support COVID-19 vaccine effort
SiO2 Materials Science plans to invest $163 million in an expansion at its Auburn facility after securing a major contract to supply the federal government with vials to support the COVID-19 vaccine effort (Source: WSFA 12 News)

AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - SiO2 Materials Science is investing $163 million in an expansion at its Auburn facility after securing a major contract to supply the federal government with vials to support the COVID-19 vaccine effort.

“Most of the vials and syringes are done through glass. There is a glass shortage that is creating a strain on the supply chain, particularly in the United States,” said SiO2 President of Customer Operations, Lawrence Ganti. “We don’t use glass but we have glass properties plus plastic properties, so it’s the best of both worlds.”

Ganti added that “we are basically multiplying the footprint of this plant by two and that’s for additional molding capacity also additional coding capacity for the syringes and for the vials. We will complete our capacity expansion by the end of this year.”

As part of its growth project, SiO2 will expand its existing facility at 2250 Riley Street and will invest in a new molding facility at 2425 Innovation Drive, both located in the Auburn Technology Park West. Construction is under way to expand the facility on Innovation Drive. The completed, approximately 70,000-square-foot facility will increase the production capacity of SiO2′s injection molding operation.

“It is exciting to know that SiO2 will be directly involved in providing a product essential to addressing the COVID-19 crisis, which will impact not only Alabamians but the entire country,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “This is a testament to the ingenuity of this great company and its growing Alabama workforce.”

“The product that they’re going to be making is going to have, potentially a global impact,” said City of Auburn Economic Development Director, Phillip Dunlap. “We know it’s going to impact Alabama and the country because they are making vials that are going to eventually hold a vaccine for COVID-19. So we’re really excited about it. It really impacts the community and the state of Alabama in more ways than one. We are really proud to have that operation in Auburn.”

“We’re proud to have some of the world’s leading scientists and product developers working in our community,” Auburn Mayor Ron Anders said. “With the presence of these companies and Auburn University’s outstanding medical and engineering programs, we believe we’ll see significant growth in the biotech industry right here in Auburn. On top of that, the well-paying jobs created through this project will result in significant economic opportunities for our local businesses.”

The expansion will allow SiO2 to increase its production capacity to meet the critical need for vials and syringes.

“We feel good because we are actually helping to produce something that is going to help bring the vaccines to market, that’s one. Two, we are helping families cause we’re maintaining jobs, we’re increasing jobs and adding more jobs every day,” Ganti said.

SiO2 plans on adding over 200 jobs, and Ganti encourages people to apply online. He said that over the past few months they’ve seen an increasing need for their products.

“We’re working with a number of different pharmaceutical companies. Their need for our product has increased. I’m not sure if that’s due to COVID or just the strain on the healthcare supply chain. We are really the only alternative to a glass package and the need, the inquires, have one up,” Ganti said.

In June, SiO2 announced an $143 million contract with federal government agencies for a production scale-up of the company’s packaging platform for storing covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics.

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