GILBERT, ARIZ. — Textron Fastening Systems-Advanced Solutions plans to consolidate two Illinois plants and complete a Texas center for coating, painting and molding.
In Chicago's suburbs, Advanced Solutions is looking for a central site for injection molding, tool building and engineering. Less than five miles separate the Mount Prospect, Ill., plant of Advantage Molding and Decorating Inc., and the Wheeling, Ill., facility of Rego Mold & Tool Co. Inc. Textron acquired Advantage in June and Rego in August.
"It may be a new, stand-alone facility centrally located for both," Leonard Griffin, group president since Oct. 9, said in a March 3 interview in Gilbert.
Both locations injection mold parts, and Rego has extensive tool-building capabilities. Advanced Solutions plans to add some presses to the tool shop for sampling trials.
In Fort Worth, Texas, significant production will begin at the 80,000-square-foot facility in the summer. The site will replace an operation 15 miles away that has painting and assembly capabilities and one injection molding machine.
"We will be adding presses throughout the summer," Griffin said.
Major customer Nokia Oyj said Feb. 2 it is cutting 800 of 5,500 jobs in Texas because of slowing growth in mobile communications. But Textron is moving ahead with its project anyway.
"We are doing this [center] to serve, obviously, Nokia, but we have other customers," Griffin said. Fort Worth "is reasonably close to our Mexican operation [in Empalme] and not too far from our engineering center" in Gilbert.
Advanced Solutions hopes to boost quality and reduce tool-building time.
Cooperation between the Gilbert and Wheeling shops has shortened lead times and increased flexibility and capacity, said Frank Gazzano, group vice president of engineering responsible for tool fabrication, research and development. Textron acquired Gilbert-based InteSys Technologies Inc. in October 1999. InteSys had used Rego as a supplier.
Cell-phone-product life cycles are shrinking to 18-36 months "and even declining below that," Gazzano said.
In recent years, the two shops "developed engineering processes to build these single- and two-cavity telecom molds in some very aggressive lead times," he said.
Tools built in less than four weeks now account for 40-50 percent of the company's single-cavity telecommunications molds. Two years ago, such tools required eight weeks.
Textron Inc. of Providence, R.I., sees the electronics and telecommunications markets as critical to its future growth, Griffin said.
More telecom industry consolidation is expected, he said. "We are not to the end of that. I think there are going to be more changes."
In related news:
Advanced Solutions formed an alliance in Brazil with an unnamed supplier of technology for shielding electronic devices from electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference. The operation occupies a portion of the joint venture Metagal InteSys' plant in Brazil's Manaus free-trade zone. The Manaus site, which has 21 injection presses, is a joint venture with Metagal Telecom Participacoes Ltda.
Last year Textron invested in a Costa Mesa, Calif., plant that molds medical parts, adding a clean-room-type molding environment.
The group is drawing input from Textron's Singapore and Taiwan offices in exploring options in Asia. "Brazil has been very successful," Griffin said. "Do we take Brazil as a model as we go to other countries, or do we look at a greenfield or partners?"
Advanced Solutions is evaluating its next step in Europe. "We have used [Donegal] Ireland as a beachfront" with operations oriented toward the medical market, Griffin said.
Griffin knocked down a rumor about Textron phasing out production at the 249,000-square-foot Gilbert plant. "Not to my knowledge," he said. "There is a lot of intellectual knowledge in this facility. It would be hard to pick up and move, and hard to replace that technical knowledge."
Advanced Solutions employs about 1,600 and had 2000 sales of $140 million, excluding tooling and joint ventures. The group reports within Textron's Fastening Systems segment.