Panel Rey SA, the largest producer of drywall panels for light construction in Latin America, is gradually eliminating galvanized steel structures that support the panels and replacing them with PVC components made in-house.
After a year of feasibility studies and approaches to companies in the United States and Italy, Panel Rey opted late in 2008 for an extrusion line from Beutelspacher SA de CV of Mexico City.
The machine can process up to 66,000 pounds of resin per month, producing perforated construction profiles up to 12 feet long and 31/2 inches wide, according to Sergio Beutelspacher, its designer and the founder of the machinery company.
It's a very ambitious project, said Ivan Laureano García, a consultant hired to oversee the extrusion program, in an interview at Panel Rey's complex in Monterrey. The plan is to install eight or nine more extruders in the short term, he said.
Plaster corner and casing beads, exterior channel reveals, joints and construction profiles all are being produced in one corner of a 430,000-square-foot plant, one of several buildings at the Monterrey site.
Panel Rey eventually will phase out metal, García said. During the startup, we will be using 2 [metric] tons (4,400 pounds) of resin per month, and this will increase to about 20 tonnes (44,000 pounds) per month, within six months or so.
Marco PatiÃ±o, operations director at Panel Rey, said the company exports its products to North and South America, as well as to Italy and Spain.
Right now, 45 percent of our production is for the national market and 55 percent for export. In other conditions, 35 percent [of production] has been for the domestic market and 65 percent for export, PatiÃ±o said.
For several years, he said, Panel Rey has been importing plastic components from the United States. But with the peso weakening against the dollar, the company decided to handle plastic component production itself.
The idea is to make our product more accessible in price. I feel this [in-house extrusion] is the beginning and that, once the [global] economy recovers and after the learning curve has been completed, we can increase the products we offer the market and acquire more machinery.
We are an aggressive company and our growth has been achieved through introducing innovation to the markets we serve, PatiÃ±o said.
He said Panel Rey officials met Sergio Beutelspacher at a trade show. We showed him the products we wanted to make and he gave us two options, PatiÃ±o said. We considered [that] he had the required experience, and we thought it was much more practical to deal with a company in Mexico rather than one in Europe or the U.S.
Formed in 1986, family-owned Panel Rey has annual sales of $150 million and employs 400.