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Backup Camera Manufacturing Puts Holly, Michigan On the Map

Our society relies on technology, and in so doing, we tend to take these advancements for granted. The revenues of consumer electronics and appliance rentals in the U.S. were predicted to reach $5.7 billion in 2016, but most customers barely give any thought as to where these technologies are produced. Our automobiles are becoming more advanced with each passing year, to the point where many young drivers will never have to use a map or even utilize their rearview mirrors when they go in reverse. That’s because many cars come equipped with GPS navigation systems and even more are being made with back-up cameras. But do you know where such safety measures are made?

You won’t have to look too far to find the plant where the majority of backup cameras are made. You can find it 40 miles northwest of Detroit, in the village of Holly. The 600 or so employees at a plant there, operated by Magna International, are responsible for producing around 45% of the rear-view cameras found in cars and trucks across North America.

The plant has grown exponentially in recent years. Just eight years ago, only 80 employees made the earliest versions of these cameras. At that time, backup cameras were a relatively new addition to automobiles. Now, they’re an industry standard.

And experts say that the demand will only continue to grow — especially in Magna’s case. That’s because they also make front-facing cameras, which are linked to automatic emergency braking systems. Those systems are predicted to become standard on most new cars as early as 2018. Considering that there are six million car crashes in the U.S. every year, these little photographic devices are vital for preventing accidents.

Although the competitions within the industry is fierce and continues to grow, Magna has shown that it is able to compete. At the end of 2016, they expected to produce more than six million backup cameras at the plant in Holly — three times the number the company produced in 2012. They predict that number could rise to nine million a year by 2018.

And unlike other factories that rely on technology to make more technology, Magna provides valuable jobs for Michigan residents. What’s more, the company doesn’t require higher education for its entry-level assemblers, as they receive extensive on-the-job training. This training has helped Magna reduce its labor costs as a percentage of sales by 80%.

“Our people are that much more productive and our first time quality is that much better,” said Jeff Gary, the general manager for Magna Electronics. “They know what they are competing against, they know what we have to do and they do it and we are very open with them about that.”

Magna continues to expand its factories throughout the state of Michigan. Nationwide, the company’s workforce expanded to more than 22,700 employees this year. At a time when job availability is such a important issue, Magna is doing its part for the local economy in Michigan, as well as across the country.

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