Independent computer-keyboard manufacturer Key Tronic Corp. has added 40,000 square feet to the molding area of its Ciudad Ju rez, Mexico, facility.
``We are expanding our molding operations in Ju rez in anticipation of increased business,'' Ronald Klawitter, executive vice president of administration and chief financial officer, said in a telephone interview from Key Tronic's Spokane, Wash., headquarters.
The high-volume production site performs electrical-component assembly and final assembly, and has molding capabilities. With the add-on opening this week, the facility has a total of 160,000 square feet.
Key Tronic did not disclose whether it has added any equipment. Before the expansion, the firm's total injection presses, with clamping forces of 50-800 tons, numbered more than 100 at its Spokane and Ju rez plants.
Key Tronic expects to emulate computer industry projections of 13-18 percent annual growth in unit volume, including for desktop and notebook models, in the next three to five years. But the company and its competitors face severe price pressures.
``We must be a low-cost producer in the keyboard business, and Ju rez makes us competitive worldwide,'' Klawitter said.
Key Tronic promoted Jack W. Oehlke to chief executive officer June 18, replacing Fred Wenninger. While changing leadership, the company is ``not changing direction,'' Klawitter said.
Expansion into original design manufacturing continues, he said. Target markets include input devices for consumer electronics, smart cards, wireless and infrared technologies, computer printer housings and controls, fingerprint identifiers and hand-held ear detection devices.
Meanwhile, Key Tronic on July 21 announced a partnership with communications equipment maker Northern Telecom Ltd. of Brampton, Ontario. Key Tronic will manufacture small-footprint wireless keyboards optimized for the Canadian company's new line of advanced screen phones and other telephony applications.
The program will require some molding processes but is ``not directly related to'' the Ju rez expansion, Klawitter said.