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Germany's Woco planning second molding plant in Mexico

By: Stephen Downer

September 19, 2012

QUERÉTARO, MEXICO (Sept. 19, 10 a.m. ET) — Tier 1 auto industry supplier Woco Group appears likely to build a second manufacturing plant in Mexico as it aims to keep pace with the rapidly expanding Mexican automotive industry.

A spokeswoman for the family-owned German company, whose customers in Mexico include Volkswagen AG, BMW AG and Ford Motor Co., told Plastics News a decision on the plant’s location will be made within 18 months.

In late August, Woco of Bad Soden-Salmünster, in the German state of Hesse, announced a $12 million expansion of its Querétaro facility, 140 miles northwest of Mexico City, opened in 2007 and operated by Woco Tech de México SA de CV.

An additional $18 million will be invested in machinery and auxiliary equipment for the plant over the next four years, according to Samuel Ramos Otero, director of Woco operations in the North American Free Trade Agreement zone, in a news release.

Woco estimates Querétaro will generate sales of about $65 million by 2016, accounting for 15 percent of its global sales, Ramos Otero said. "We have invested heavily in technology and quality systems, with which we are currently in a position that allows us to face any challenge that the automotive industry in NAFTA may present."

The $12 million is being used to increase the size of the factory from 64,600 to 107,600 square feet and for the purchase of new injection molding equipment.

The Woco spokeswoman said about $2 million is being invested in several new presses, one with a clamping force of 1,000 tons, another of 500 tons and one or two of 200 tons, which are scheduled to be installed over the next few months.

The company’s favorite suppliers of injection molding machines are Krauss Maffei Technologies GmbH and Arburg GmbH + Co KG. Already installed in Querétaro are presses ranging in clamping force from 70 tons to 500 tons. They include one 70-ton press, four of 100 tons, two of 130 tons, three of 200 tons and two each of 400 and 500 tons.

Plastic injection molding and the assembly of plastic parts represent between 50 percent and 60 percent of all activities at the plant, which employs 300, about 210 of them in manufacturing, the spokeswoman said. Ramos Otero added that he expects Woco to double the number of employees there within several years.

Items produced include cylinder-head covers, air-intake and channeling components, and actuators.

On its website, Woco — which started manufacturing operations in Mexico in Querétaro, in 1993 — lists 18 vehicle makers and 29 suppliers among its customers.