A Look Inside Luminar’s New High-Volume Manufacturing Facility

Monterrey plant to begin producing 250,000 lidar sensors for the automotive industry annually.

As the auto industry continues its post-COVID recovery, the demand for essential components such as sensors will continue to increase. Automotive suppliers such as U.S.-based Luminar Technologies are anticipating this demand by opening new facilities, and Luminar offered a look inside its newest manufacturing plant in the video below:

Luminar produces lidar-based sensors and the new facility, based in Monterrey, Mexico, has begun shipping them to the company’s lead customer. “This enables an increase in capacity by well over an order of magnitude as compared to our existing, manual line to meet our growing automaker requirements on volume,” said Luminar Founder and CEO, Austin Russell, in a statement from the company.

Although Luminar owns the facility, it’s being operated by the contract manufacturer Celestica, while the sensors’ transceiver chips are being produced and shipped to Celestica by Fabrinet, another contract manufacturer based in Thailand. According to Luminar, the Monterrey facility has the initial capacity for 250,000 sensors per year, with the potential to expand up to 500,000.

The key to this capacity is 40,000 square feet of cleanroom space which was designed to meet International Standards Organization (ISO) specifications. “The automation strategy was built using highly flexible standard cells as a basis,” explains Luminar VP for Quality and Industrialization, Debbie Poppas. “Robots are used for screwdriving, dispensing and assembly and are compatible with clean rooms. Inspection cameras verify that preceding processes are properly performed.”

While the plant came online ahead of schedule—it was originally slated to start production in the latter half of this year—the facility still needs to complete a validation process during the remainder of 2023 to ensure it conforms to automotive standards and requirements for large-scale vehicle launches. Celestica is also working on an additional 200,000 square-foot extension to the dedicated Luminar facility for performance and quality testing. Luminar claims this expansion will provide the flexibility to increase its annual production capacity to millions of sensors.

“The build-out of the facility began in July of 2022,” says Poppas. “The high-volume machinery started to be installed in December of last year and new units have already started rolling off the line.”

According to Luminar’s press release, the next phase of its capacity expansion will be in the Asia Pacific region, with further information to come during its Q1 business update on May 9, 2023.