Valeo SA, one of Europe's top suppliers, has ambitious plans to consolidate its North American engineering facilities into a single “campus” that likely will be built within two years, the company says.

The supplier now has five facilities scattered about metro Detroit employing 700 people. The locations include Livonia, Rochester Hills, Troy and Dearborn, and the facilities are dedicated to developing products such as motors, actuators, clutches and lighting.

Centralizing the operations into one campus would streamline communication and greatly improve engineering across Valeo's many product segments, says Robert Strazzella, group vice president of Valeo North America.

In 1998, Valeo built a North American headquarters for its engine cooling and climate control operations in Auburn Hills, MI, north of Detroit. Strazzella says one possibility is to add onto that building, as it's still relatively new.

“We want to take advantage of the labs that we already have there now,” Strazzella says.

The strategy for a North American campus fits with Valeo's corporate mission to focus on five distinct “domains:” driveline systems, Seeing and Being Seen (lighting), electrical energy management, thermal energy management and vehicle access and security.

Meanwhile, Valeo has been cutting costs aggressively and thinning out its own supply base. Thierry Morin, chairman of the French company's management board, reports that Valeo has reduced its own supply base from 4,500 to fewer than 3,000 companies, and that the goal is to have only 1,200 suppliers within two years.

Over 18 months, Valeo has closed 31 of its 170 plants, for a reduction of 7,500 employees. Recently, Valeo consolidated its lighting activities in Spain. Its Spanish subsidiary, Valeo Illuminacion S.A., will close its plant in Sant Esteve Sesrovires near Barcelona, transferring production to its Martos lighting systems plant near Jaen in southern Spain.