January 24, 2012
Accuride says it will invest $110 million in its Accuride Wheels and Gunite business units during 2011-2012.Following a $35 million investment in 2011 to increase its aluminum wheel production capacity, Accuride says it expects to make additional investments of approximately $75 million in 2012 to strengthen product availability, quality and reliability; upgrade its manufacturing processes; and improve customer service. "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," said Accuride President and CEO Rick Dauch. "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 Wheels business and is already under way. A second phase involves improvements at Accuride's Gunite operations.Accuride is aggressively expanding its production capacity as aluminum wheel demand continues to grow in North America. Accuride plans $20 million of aluminum wheel capacity investments in 2012 that will include facility improvements, the installation of new machining lines and equipment, as well as the transfer of equipment among Accuride's three aluminum wheel plants in Erie, Pa.; Camden, S.C.; 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, the company says. 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 2013-2014. Planned factory-flow improvements will further increase throughput from the newly-added wheel machining lines.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, S.C.;* The November launch of Accuride's new Mega-Line at its Erie plant, which it says set a new industry benchmark in process technology; and* 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. In addition, the company will make targeted investments this year in its steel wheel products, 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. The second phase of Accuride's capital investment program, to be announced later this quarter, will target 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. The resulting manufacturing improvements will boost Gunite's capacity and throughput, and improve product quality.In addition, last week Accuride appointed two new members to its Quality and Supply Chain teams.