Accuride increasing North American capacity, capabilities

Accuride Corporation, a leading supplier of components to the commercial vehicle industry, has reported that the company expects to make additional investments of approximately $75 million in 2012 to:

  • Strengthen product availability, quality and reliability.
  • Upgrade its manufacturing processes.
  • Improve customer service.

Accuride president and CEO Rick Dauch made the announcement during a briefing at the recent 2012 Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week Conference, held in Las Vegas, NV.

Accuride’s 2012 North American investments support its position to become the premier supplier of wheel-end system solutions to the commercial vehicle aftermarket, and build upon the company’s $35 million investment in 2011 to increase its aluminum wheel production capacity.

“Accuride is committed to being a reliable and dependable supplier of steel and aluminum wheels and wheel-end components for our OE and aftermarket customers,” said Dauch, who took over as head of the company in February 2011 - a few years after the company came under new ownership.

 

New operational plans

After visiting with employees and customer, Dauch instituted wide ranging changes to Accuride. This included:

- Replaced or gave new assignments to 70 percent of the senior leadership.

- Revised strategic plans with a new company vision, mission and values.

- Created a “fix and grow” approach for Accuride’s core assets.

- Sold three non-core businesses - Brillion Farm Equipment, Bostrom Seating and Fabco - and invested the proceeds into the core businesses.

- Committed to “restoring operating excellence and technological leadership.”

 

Investment phases

“We made solid progress in boosting our production capacity last year, and are stepping up our investments to extend and accelerate that progress throughout 2012,” Dauch said.

“These investment plans further demonstrate our continuing commitment to improve product quality and ensure availability to meet growing demand by our customers and the industry. We won’t be satisfied until Accuride becomes the premier supplier of wheel-end system solutions to the global commercial vehicle industry.”

The first phase targets new machining lines and related equipment in the Accuride Wheels business and is already underway.

A second phase involves improvements at Accuride’s Gunite operations. Gunite is a producer of wheel-end components, such as brake drums and hubs.

 

Aluminum wheel expansion

Accuride is aggressively expanding its production capacity as aluminum wheel demand continues to grow in North America.

Dauch said Accuride plans $20 million of aluminum wheel capacity investments in 2012. These will include facility improvements, installation of new machining lines and equipment and transfer of equipment among Accuride’s three aluminum wheel plants in Erie, PA, Camden, SC, and Monterrey, Mexico.

These actions will optimize material flow, standardize wheel machining processes and achieve greater surface-finish consistency for its aluminum-wheel product lines.

Once completed, Accuride’s 2012 investments will double the company’s aluminum wheel production capacity at its Monterrey and Camden plants.

This will bring sufficient aluminum capacity online this year to meet the peak industry cycle demand expected in 2013 to 2014, he noted.

Planned factory-flow improvements will further increase throughput from the newly-added wheel machining lines, enabling Accuride to achieve enhanced production performance for customers.

These 2012 investments build upon Accuride’s significant actions in 2011 to increase aluminum wheel production, including:

- The June acquisition and re-launch of its aluminum wheel manufacturing facility in Camden, SC.

- The November launch of Accuride’s new Mega-Line at its Erie plant, which set a new industry benchmark in process technology, noted Dauch.

- The transfer of an aluminum wheel machining line to Accuride’s Monterrey plant, which made it Mexico’s only supplier of both steel and aluminum wheels for commercial vehicles.

- The November launch of Accuride’s new Mega-Line at its Erie plant, which set a new industry benchmark for aluminum wheel machining process technology, noted Dauch.

 

Mega-Line

The Mega-Line is one of the highest technology aluminum wheel production lines in North America, according to Dauch. It produces high-gloss aluminum wheels for commercial vehicles through a fully automated operation.

The line includes eight robots processing forged and heat-treated wheels. The processes include turning, pre-stressing, milling, coining and surface finishing.

There is a centralized, closed-loop system for chip and coolant management. 

 

Steel wheel improvements

The OEM and aftermarket leader in steel wheels, Accuride’s Wheels business unit has demonstrated strong service and financial performance, Dauch said.

For 2012, the company will make targeted investments in machining, equipment, facility upgrades and engineering initiatives to further improve product and process quality.

In addition, Accuride’s Lean Manufacturing initiatives are further reducing variation and cycle times.

 

Future investments

The second phase of Accuride’s capital investment program, to be announced later this quarter, targets the Gunite wheel-end business unit that produces spoke wheels, hubs, rotors, full cast brake drums and automatic slack adjusters.

These investments will address the production issues and capacity constraints that Gunite experienced during 2011, said Dauch.

The resulting manufacturing improvements will boost Gunite’s capacity and throughput, and improve product quality.

For more information, visit Accuride’s website at www.accuridecorp.com.

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