Reflecting on Network Upgrades at Magna Mirrors

Originally founded in Ontario in 1957, Magna International, Inc. is one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world. With nearly 350 manufacturing facilities worldwide, spanning 28 different countries, Magna tops every other North American auto parts manufacturer in terms of sales. Magna Mirrors of America is an operating unit of Magna International that manufactures automotive mirrors, door handle systems, auto-dimming car windows, and more. In 2019, Magna launched a $45 million project to expand one of its key Magna Mirrors manufacturing facilities in Newaygo, Michigan. The project was intended to effectively double the capacity of the Newaygo plant—and to create 50 new Michigan auto industry jobs to boot. Windemuller was tapped to handle all the network infrastructure for the new expansion, including Category 6 cabling, fiber optic cabling, paging system components, camera systems, and video management systems.

The Challenge

The biggest challenges of this project were the scope of the work and the necessary timeline. All told, the project involved installing four wall-mount cabinets in the plant in order to house all the electronics, including switches and cable connections. We installed 160,000 feet of Category 6 cable for the network locations, 10,000 feet of Category 6A cable for the wireless access points, and 15,000 feet of 12-strand armored fiber optic cabling. We also provided and installed 44 new Axis cameras—24 interior, 20 exterior—and designed and installed the new paging system, which includes 50 pendant speakers powered by a new 600-watt amplifier (all of which we tied into the existing paging system).

Initially, Magna hoped to start moving into the expanded facility in September. As the project moved forward, though, the client upped the timeline, with a goal of installing their first manufacturing cells in August.

The Solution

Fortunately, we were familiar with Magna as a client and were comfortable with their standards and requirements. Five or six years ago, we helped Magna install a brand new camera and video management system at this specific facility. The 2019 expansion project was more in-depth and involved more than just cameras and software upgrades, but our experience with the facility and our working relationship with Magna certainly made things smoother.

Otherwise, our key asset on this project was our ability to be flexible and change our plans on the fly. While we had mapped out an initial plan for how we were going to cable the facility based on the client’s initial timeframe, we had to change our approach to suit their evolving plans. Since Magna was only moving in a few cells or production lines at a time, they were able to let us know which areas needed cabling most urgently. We adjusted our plan to make sure we could meet those needs. The expanded facility space will give Magna Mirrors more room to work and spread out their cells, which will in turn make for a safer, more efficient work environment. Windemuller’s network upgrades will play a key role in that improved efficiency too, allowing for rapid data transfers between plant switches and servers.

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