Aisin Corporation, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of vehicle transmissions, recently opened its first plant in the state of Texas. Located in Cibolo, the $400 million, 463,800 square-foot plant produces automatic and hybrid transmissions used in Toyota Tundra trucks that are manufactured in San Antonio. 

Architectural firm KAI Enterprises chose insulated metal panels (IMPs) to build the nearly 500,000 square-foot facility. More than 98,000 square-feet of Kingspan’s KS Mini Micro-Rib and Optimo Smooth panels were used on the project in regal white, dark bronze and bright silver colors. 

The KS Mini Micro-Rib provides a unique aesthetic through its ribbed profile while delivering supreme thermal performance at the same time. Its fully engineered joint design allows for profile integration, creating a striking appearance that is a perfect aesthetic complement to Kingspan’s flat panel offering, Optimo. The Optimo panels deliver a flat, architectural-focused modern building envelope solution. The use of pearlescent micas or metallic colors provide an even more dynamic finish.  By combining these two profiles in a single project, architects can achieve aesthetic dynamics that adds design depth to large industrial designs like the Aisin project.

Aisin’s new plant is a prime example of the growing trend of vehicle manufacturers opening facilities in Texas — particularly in the Alamo region. Not only does the region have a reliable workforce, but most of these plants have gained tax relief packages from local municipalities, making it a desirable place to set up shop.

While Texas’s popularity rises for vehicle manufacturers, so do the state’s temperatures. Texas cities have set temperature records following a relentless heat wave this summer. In June, Corpus Christi logged a heat index of 125 degrees. Readings in Laredo (115 degrees), Del Rio (115 degrees), San Angelo (114 degrees) and Junction (107 degrees) were also the highest ever recorded, according to the National Weather Service. 

Aside from aesthetics, Kingspan’s panels have another benefit in common – thermal efficiency. The use of IMPs is a way to future-proof buildings to reduce energy consumption. 

IMPs have a high R-value, providing heavy-duty insulation – keeping the humid air outside and the cooler air inside. Additionally, IMPs provide an air and watertight continuous insulation barrier that seals the building enclosure and helps increase energy efficiency, making it a preferred building envelope approach for manufacturing centers.

This thermal efficiency and full vapor and water barrier make IMPs an energy efficient cladding option, helping Aisin cut down on building cooling costs amid the Texas heat.