The pre-paint equipment was installed during the holidays and represents a $600,000 investment in the plant, previously called Day-Brite. It replaced 30-year-old equipment.
“We have a lot of people who worked hard and long on this project,” said Tom Lynch, senior manager of supply chain for Philips’ Tupelo facility.
The new equipment washes the parts for lighting fixtures and removes any oils, fingerprints and dust before they are painted.
On Wednesday, Philips had parts for fluorescent light fixtures running through the station that looks like a large shower tunnel with spray nozzles. The parts then are dried and make their way to the paint shop, where powdered paint is applied to the surface and later baked on.
About 30 people work in the pre-paint area. The plant employs a total of 450, according to Lynch.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. at the ribbon-cutting event said the reinvestment pointed to Philips’ commitment to Tupelo. The company, as Day-Brite, was the first major industry to open a facility in the city after World War II. It opened in 1947.
The projects come a year after Philips bought the plant and rolled out changes, primarily the emphasis on the Philips brand instead of the various brands Day-Brite made.
Lynch said the facility, going forward, will focus on lighting for offices, education and industry. Plus, it will conduct research and development in Tupelo.
Wednesday, he said the plant will lose several products, including point-source lighting and outdoor lighting. The role of the on-site Lighting Institute also has shrunk. He declined to comment on the reports of layoffs at the facility earlier this summer.
Lynch was optimistic about the plant, adding that it is getting more equipment delivered this month for another project.
“A lot of products come in here and a lot go out,” he said. “2013 is going to be a busy year for us.”