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Connacht Tribune

Tuam factory Valeo gears up for car camera production boom

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A Tuam company – synonymous with cameras vehicle reversing and surround cameras – plans to more than double production to create 20 million cameras a year.

Valeo Vision Systems this week celebrated its 100 millionth ‘automotive nearfield camera’ – which give rear and bird’s eye vision for drivers – rolling off the production line.

Announcing the milestone, Marc Vrecko, President of Valeo’s Comfort and Driving Assistance Systems Business Group, had some good news for the plant based at the Industrial Development Agency Business Park on the Dunmore Road.

“Things are about to move up another gear. We now plan to produce more than 20 million cameras a year and globally deliver as many units to our automaker customers in the next four years as we did in the last 15, meaning another 100 million cameras by 2026,” he told the Connacht Tribune.

It is a remarkable achievement for the company, which set up as Connaught Electronics Ltd in 1982 with a handful of employees. There are now 850 employees, nearly 70 per cent of them engineers with coding expertise.

Its reputation for the development and manufacture of electronic components mainly in the field of camera applications for driver assistance and radio frequency applications for remote vehicle access and security caught the attention of the French multinational Valeo which bought it in 2007.

Listed on the Paris stock exchange, the Valeo group employs 113,600 people in 33 countries worldwide. It has 186 production plants, 59 Research and Development (R&D) centres and 15 distribution platforms.

“When Valeo acquired this start-up, this was one of the promises made to the founders: to say this business has been Irish and will remain very, very strongly in Ireland and over the years we’ve been more than blessed by the enthusiasm, the passion and dedication of the team here.

“It’s been a fantastic and very rare success. We feel so happy to be here.”

From its Tuam plant, Valeo was the first to market in Europe with the reversing camera. Last year an unnamed car manufacturer released its ‘bird’s eye’ or 360-degree camera boasting image fusion technology, which creates a single snapshot from multiple video sources. It feels as if the driver is being assisted by a drone above the car.

The company’s R&D unit in Galway developed the nifty feature already in some high-end cars that allows drivers to automatically manoeuvre their car into a parking space. It was behind a wide-angle camera that can generate cross-traffic alerts, improve views at junctions and help drivers to detect pedestrians and assist motorists towing trailers.

“Every single advanced feature and function and technology has been developed and engineered in this place so it’s really a very, very important place for Valeo,” remarked Mr Vrecko.

“In Tuam we have a global R&D centre for advanced cameras, so it’s where we’re piloting, steering most of our projects. Every new camera and every generation of camera is first primarily developed and manufactured in this plant. Tuam is the mother plant, it’s going to groom the new technologies.”

In 2019 the company announced an investment of €44m in the R&D programme to build on its capability in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), which will be pivotal to autonomous or self-driving vehicles.

Products developed by the Tuam R&D centre are also in production at Valeo sites in Germany, Hungary, Mexico and China.

The first camera rolled off the Irish production lines in 2002. Eight years later, one million units were delivered to customers. In 2013, the ten-millionth camera threshold was hit, and in 2015, the figure doubled to 20 million. Between 2015 and 2018, output increased 30-fold compared with the first eight years, with 30 million cameras manufactured in three years, for a total of 50 million. The four years between 2018 and 2022 saw total production double and cross the 100 million camera mark. Mr Vrecko explains that this huge ramping up in production is down to the mass production of high-tech systems, a revolution in safety and comfort and artificial intelligence algorithms, allowing Valeo to create through-the-body vision, autonomous parking and driving features.

Valeo now equips one in three new cars globally with its technology and number one in the world in advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) that use sensor technologies like radar and lidar to detect objects.

The French manager believes that 90 per cent of cars will have some form of driving assistance by 2030.

“Of course, we aim to bring that technology to the masses. We are enthusiastic about the possibilities, to make sure it’s affordable and in use for everyone. Our aim is to have more and more users.”

Finding and retaining staff to continue that expansion will be crucial to Tuam’s continued success, he agrees. The plant already boasts 35 nationalities.

“It’s very hard to find talent in the technology space. It’s very competitive. It is a tough fight to get the best people in the high-tech space. You need to provide the best and most exciting opportunities. But we have a super exciting product. There is a true sense of fulfillment when you see products on actual cars.

“We have a real community life here. We have a way of bringing together all the people. In the last ten years I’ve been here every six months so I know it pretty well and the Tuam team are very rooted here. They are very happy.  It’s unique for a multinational.”

(hotograph by Aengus McMahon: Mary Buckley, Executive Director, IDA Ireland with Christophe Périllat, Chief Executive Officer of Valeo pictured at the company’s Tuam site as their 100 millionth camera came off the production line).

Connacht Tribune

New chapter beckons for dilapidated old houses in Ballinasloe

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Cllr Dermot Connolly, SF leader Mary Lou Mc Donald, Galway/Roscommon TD Claire Kerrane, and Caoimhin Caulfield, Ballinasloe, at the Dunlo Hill regeneration project in Ballinasloe.

Plans to redevelop a row of empty terraced houses and an old famous bar will breathe new life into Ballinasloe.

Cathaoirleach of Ballinasloe Municipal District, Councillor Dermot Connolly (SF), said the Galway County Council has shown vision by buying seven terraced houses along Dunlo Hill, as well as the closed Dooley’s Bar on the corner of Dunlo Hill and Dunlo Street.

Local authority plans for the site will rejuvenate that street, and give an overall lift to the entire East County Galway town.

Liam Hanrahan, Director of Services for Housing, Economic, Rural and Community Development, confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that the local authority purchased seven two-storey dwellings, a three-storey over basement premises – formerly Dooley’s Pub – and another adjacent three storey building for a total of €390,000.

“The tender for the design team was run in conjunction with another infill development in Ballinasloe and that team is currently being appointed to bring forward the Part 8 planning for 12-15 units – a mix of one and two-bedroom units. We are examining what can be done with the pub unit, a protected premises, as a community hub or other town centre use,” he said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Barn Owls are bouncing back in Galway

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The Barn Owl....returning in droves to Galway.

The Barn Owl is bouncing back all over the county – that’s the key finding of a recent survey which recorded an upsurge in the fortunes of this iconic farmland bird, now returning to parts of the county where they have been absent for decades.

The survey was carried out by BirdWatch Ireland in partnership with the Heritage Office of Galway County Council, and it’s great news for a bird that had become an increasingly rare sight around the county in recent decades.

Surveys show that Barn Owls were widespread in the east of the county in the late 1960s, but 40 years later their numbers had diminished, and their range had contracted significantly in east Galway and they were incredibly rare west of Lough Corrib.

However, the survey – carried out by BirdWatch Ireland in partnership with Galway County Council with the support of the National Biodiversity Action Plan Fund – provides cause for optimism and the first evidence that the fortunes of Barn Owls may be changing in east Galway.

The Barn Owl survey enlisted the help of farmers and the general public who reported information on Barn Owls across the county, and the survey also involved systematically checking a wide range of ruined structures, which are the typical nesting sites of Barn Owl.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Spatial jobs strategy is still stuck in first gear

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Accusation...Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn.

Commuters in Athenry and Oranmore are having to spend hours travelling to congested urban areas for work while policymakers renege on commitments to deliver industry locally.

That’s according to a local councillor who said the failure of the IDA to attract inward investment to Oranmore-Athenry Strategic Economic Corridor amounted to an ‘abandonment’ of local residents.

Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn said despite having a commitment in local and national plans to attract industry into what amounts to around 500 acres in Athenry and Oranmore, nothing had come of it.

“We are now entering into the second County Development Plan where we have this ‘Strategic Economic Corridor’, and it was in the National Planning Framework.

“They appear to have abandoned the area and while we’ve seen IDA and Enterprise Ireland get investment for places like Tuam and Parkmore, they appear to be only investing in existing businesses, while doing nothing to attract new industry and indigenous firms to this area,” blasted the Fianna Fáil councillor.

At a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District, Cllr Herterich Quinn secured the backing of local area councillors to write to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Leo Varadkar, seeking assurances that steps were being taken to bring jobs to the area.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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