Accuride boosts North American aluminum truck wheel capacity

Accuride Corporation, a leading supplier of components to the commercial vehicle industry, has announced that it significantly enhanced its aluminum wheel production capacity during 2011 through a combination of strategic acquisitions, key process technology investments and transfers of aluminum wheel machining lines within its operations.

These steps were part of a $35 million strategic initiative to boost its ability to serve the commercial vehicle industry's increasing demand for high-quality aluminum wheels.

"Many factors, including fuel economy requirements, residual value and aesthetics, are driving the growth in aluminum wheel demand in the North American commercial vehicle industry," said Rick Dauch, who became the company's president and chief executive officer, in June of 2011.

Prior to joining Accuride, Dauch served as president and chief executive officer of Acument Global Technologies - a preeminent provider of fastening solutions.

"Accuride is investing to ensure that we have the right production capacity in place when and where our customers need it - whether for steel or aluminum wheels," he said. "We're also raising our standards for product dependability and finish to meet customers' ever-increasing expectations."


Acquisition of Forgitron

Last June, Accuride acquired substantially all of the assets of Forgitron Technologies, a Camden, SC-based wheel maker. The acquisition included Forgitron's 80,000-square-foot aluminum wheel manufacturing facility located in Camden. 

Accuride stopped production at Camden during the following month to convert its production capacity to the Accuride brand standards, said Dauch.

Plant manufacturing systems and controls, as well as customer order management and sales programs, were also integrated into Accuride systems.

Now producing Accuride-branded aluminum wheels for the commercial vehicle market, the Camden plant increased Accuride's aluminum wheel manufacturing capacity in North America by 21 percent.



In November 2011, Accuride launched its new Mega-Line at its plant in Erie, PA.

The Mega-Line is one of the highest technology aluminum wheel production lines in North America, according to Dauch. The line employs a fully automated manufacturing process that uses a centralized, closed-loop system for chip and coolant management.

The line's eight robots take a forged, spun and heat-treated raw wheel through the turning, pre-stress, milling, coining and Rösler surface finishing processes to produce durable, high-gloss aluminum wheels that are ready for shipment with zero manual intervention, he noted.

"The Mega-Line established a new industry benchmark in process technology" and boosted Accuride's total aluminum wheel manufacturing capacity by another 42 percent, said Dauch.


Mexico operation

In response to growing demand in Mexico, Accuride has transferred an existing manual-process aluminum wheel machining line to Accuride de Mexico's 226,000-square-foot Monterrey, Mexico, plant during the summer.

The new aluminum wheel line was operating at full capacity in November 2011, establishing Accuride de Mexico as the country's only single-source supplier of both steel and aluminum wheels for the local medium and heavy duty commercial vehicle market, Dauch said.

The capacity expansion also positioned Accuride closer to its customers' expanding footprint in the region.


Additional investments

As part of its aluminum wheel machining investments, Accuride also installed additional polishing equipment in its Erie and Monterrey facilities.

This new equipment established a higher standard of enhanced finish for Accuride's aluminum wheel product portfolio and increased efficiency and productivity, said Dauch.

According to Scott Hazlett, senior vice president and general manager, Accuride Wheels, Accuride's investments were driven by three strategic objectives:

  • Maximizing the use of existing aluminum wheel production and machining capacity to satisfy customer needs across the company's market segments and regions; 
  • Establishing new capacity in regions where customer assembly plants are concentrated.
  • Investing in advanced production processes to achieve higher standards of product quality and finishing for the company's aluminum wheel portfolio.

"By strategically managing our existing capacity and investing in key acquisitions and capacity initiatives, Accuride is fortifying its status as a leading aluminum wheel supplier to the North American commercial vehicle industry," said Hazlett.

"Further, with our proven steel wheel expertise and extensive product portfolio, we're able to seamlessly serve as a single-source supplier for our customers' aluminum and steel wheel needs."

"We plan to make further significant capital investments in manufacturing equipment, products and process technologies across all of our core businesses during 2012 and 2013 in order to strengthen the value and dependability we offer our customers," Dauch added.