Michelin launches major Technology Center upgrade

March 26, 2011

TO strengthen its innovation capabilities and shorten new tire time-to-market, Michelin has undertaken a top-to-bottom €100 million upgrade of its global research and development center in Ladoux, near Clermont-Ferrand in France. In the center, where 3,300 people work, an entirely new, ultra-modern property complex will be built by 2017. It will consolidate all Michelin R&D teams and laboratories on the same site, enabling the introduction of new, faster and more efficient work processes.

Called Urbalad, the project involves several steps, including the renovation of existing buildings, the demolition of a number of obsolete facilities, and the construction within the site of a 67,000-square-metre building – the largest in France’s Auvergne region – that will house 1,600 workstations. Called RDI Campus (RDI being the French acronym for research, development and process engineering), the building will allow Technology Center teams to use new multidiscipline, cross-functional work methods, thanks to a system of platforms for up to 20 people that can be adapted to specific project needs. It will also bring together Michelin’s main research units, which currently operate on different sites. This consolidation will speed processes and promote cross-fertilization among different businesses.

45 years after the Ladoux Technology Center was founded, this major upgrade will provide research teams with optimal working conditions and a pleasant living environment. In addition to the research and development work areas, RDI Campus will include training facilities, a library, a company restaurant and a sports complex, as well as a dry cleaning outlet, bakery, cash dispenser and other personal services. A 300m-long corridor – called Rue de la Recherche (“Research Street”) – will encourage informal discussions and stimulate the emergence of new ideas. Moreover, the building is designed to comply with France’s HQE environmental standards.

Architectural studies for the main building were launched in early 2011 and will last approximately six months. Once the worksite preparation has been completed, construction of the building will begin in spring 2012 and will take around five years. At the same time, a number of old buildings will be demolished and the process of renovating sustainable buildings, undertaken in 2007, will be continued. According to estimates, the first section of the main building – for around 600 people – will be delivered in 2014. The second will be completed in late 2016, when 1,000 additional people will be installed in the Center. In 2017, Michelin’s new complex dedicated to innovation, with its various buildings, will comprise a fully aligned, high-performance unit.

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