Customer demand has persuaded Tier 1 automotive supplier Montaplast AG to establish an injection molding and assembly facility in Suzhou. The firm held a groundbreaking ceremony May 12 for the plant.
David Burnett, vice president of manufacturing for Montaplast of North America Inc., said the plant will be completed by January, with production starting in April. The facility will start with six injection molding machines producing air-intake manifolds.
``We have special technologies we use for [the air-intake manifold] and we've been asked to supply that in China,'' Burnett said.
He added that General Motors, Ford and joint ventures of Japan's Denso Corp. in China make up a few of Montaplast's customers in the region.
``More and more, we're being asked to deliver on a global basis, to supply the same platform all over the world. Our intention is to be here for this market. We do the same thing in the U.S. and Europe.''
Montaplast has manufacturing in Morsbach, Germany, and Frankfort, Ky. A facility in Southfield, Mich., houses sales, design and engineering services.
Burnett said the firm likes to remain low-profile but work closely with customers. Montaplast helps with design, toolmaking, model production and pilot runs.
The company used the same philosophy in searching for the location for its plant in Suzhou.
``We do a lot of research and want to understand the market and the locations. We spent a significant amount of time looking for a combination of cost, government relationships and closeness to customers,'' Burnett said.
Customer demand drives growth for Montaplast. The firm opened its U.S. operations in 1992. Burnett and Holger Ramcke, vice president of finance and administration, did not comment on expected sales and growth for China. But they did say several of China's automakers have approached Montaplast to supply plastic air-intake manifolds, which are new to China's market.