Apple Inc. Plant In Mesa Ready To Ramp Sapphire Production

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is enhancing the sapphire glass production in its Mesa situated massive production facility, which is almost finished, according to GT Advanced Technologies CEO Tom Gutierrez. Until now, Apple or GT Advanced Technologies have not revealed anything about the “Project Cascade” a collaboration of both the companies for the large scale production of the sapphire glass at the former First Solar building in east Mesa.

Ramping production

Gutierrez did not speak anything precisely about the production of the glasses while in conversation with the investors during the earnings call. However, the executive did talk about the efforts to ramp up its 1.3 million square foot factory.

“The build-out of our Arizona facility … is nearly complete, and we are commencing the transition to volume production,” Gutierrez said. The CEO added that the company would achieve its full operational efficiency in early 2015, and added that the progress is not catching up the speed due to some hurdles of the start-up.

Gutierrez said that there were around 1, 200 construction workers involved in building the facility and other infrastructure. Also, the company has hired hundreds of workers, who were given proper training and divided into four shifts, 24/7 operation.

GT has shelled out $45 million to increase the sapphire production in the second-quarter of 2014 and is estimating another $45 million cost during the second half of the year, according to chief financial officer Raja Bal. Bal said that second quarter expenses were higher than what was expected showing the complexity and challenges faced during the operation.

GT’s glass in Apple Inc.’s next iPhone?

GT mentioned in its U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday about the drawbacks in aligning its production process. The company posted a loss on the products that were not fit for the sale and inventory spoiled due to construction related hurdles.

Apple deploys glass in the camera lenses as well as for the fingerprint reading components on its latest devices. There have been rumors that Apple might use the GTs’ ultra-hard sapphire glass for the display on its next smartphone.

There was no response from Apple, as well as, GT when asked for comment. Bal stated that even though the company is facing challenges, it is in no doubt about the long-term potential of the sapphire glass, and is estimating a final payment of $139 million from Apple in October. Till now, Apple has made payment of $439 million.

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