SANTA ANA, MEXICO - This dusty little desert town's major employer turns out 50 million feet of plastic tubing for automotive vacuum harnesses in a year, plus 20,000 plastic oil caps a month. Most of the vacuum harnesses manufactured by Autopartes de Precisi¢n de Santana SA de CV are used in automotive emission control systems. The component manufacturer is wholly owned by Miniature Precision Component Inc. of Walworth, Wis. It has been making vacuum harnesses for the U.S. market for seven years.
In the last four years, according to plant manager Jose Maldo-nado, Autopartes' work force has grown to 750 from 150. And now, because the Mexican government has required emission controls to be in all new cars, a small percentage of MPC's emission control harnesses go to the Ford Motor Co. plant in Hermosillo. Ford puts them into cars for both the U.S. and Mexican markets.
However, the Santa Ana plant still is heavily dependent on automobile factories in the United States. The operation makes 223 separate products, about 3.5 million pieces a year, and 80 percent are shipped to 80 plants in the United States. The rest go to six plants in Mexico.
The plant has a molding area and an extrusion area. It injection molds plastic connectors for use in its harnesses.
Other Mexican manufacturers that use MPC products are the Nissan factory in Aguascalientes and the Volkswagen plant in Puebla. However, without Ford, Chrysler Corp. and General Motors Corp., the MPC subsidiary would have no business worth mentioning.
It started as a maquiladora, importing all components and raw material and exporting all finished goods back to the United States. Now, Maldonado said, it has been transformed into a Pitex, a category of Mexican company that allows it to sell up to 25 percent of its products to the Mexican market.