Silao, Mexico — German injection molder Röchling Group has just opened its first manufacturing plant in Mexico, and already is likely to extend the facility within months.
Orders have exceeded expectations, top Röchling executives said during an interview at the grand opening on May 3, setting off preparations to extend the plant by leasing an adjoining property on 194,000 square feet of land.
The plant in Silao, in central Mexico, will make SCR tanks for diesel engines, active grille shutters, body systems and under-the-hood components for automakers, starting with an active grille shutter line for Ford Motor Co.
Other customers to have signed up include Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, BMW AG and General Motors Co.
The plant's sales are expected to hit $16 million in 2016. That will increase to about $69 million in 2020, said Vincent Mauroit, president of Roechling Automotive USA LLP, headquartered in Duncan, S.C., who has overseen the Silao project.
By then, the plant will be processing 8,000 tons of resin per year. The Röchling group as a whole processes about 200,000 tons of resins a year.
Röchling is investing $6.5 million in 15 presses and auxiliary equipment at the 99,000-square-foot factory, which Röchling leases under a 10-year agreement. “We prefer to spend our money on machinery and technology rather than bricks and mortar,” Erwin Doll, CEO, Röchling Automotive SE & Co KG, based in Mannheim, said. The plant is built on 269,000 square feet and will eventually employ 220.
Two two-component hydraulic Engel presses with a clamping force of 1,500 tons each are already operating. Another 13 presses will be installed in 2017 and 2018, the largest with a clamping force of 2,300 tons. The new machines “may be Engels,” Mauroit replied cryptically, when asked who the supplier would be.
Some will have a Trexel Inc.'s MuCell microcellular foam injection capability, according to Mauroit, who added that among the reasons Röchling chose Engel is the Austrian press maker's monitoring technology, which allows presses in Silao to be monitored in Duncan.
Others mentioned that the Puerto Interior industrial complex, which covers four industrial parks and houses 100 companies' factories — Röchling's included — is probably the most modern in Latin America, with daily non-stop freight rail service to Chicago, adjacent international airport, fire, medical and customs services and easy road access to clients' manufacturing operations in the region.
Mauroit said Röchling not only wants to increase its business with existing clients in Mexico but to add customers in the fields of underbody, aerodynamics and engine encapsulation, fluid components and air flow, water and engine management.
According to Georg Duffner, the Röchling Group's CEO, “any company that claims to be a global leader … needs to have a presence in Mexico.
“The country is becoming increasingly important in the global automotive market” — being ranked seventh among light vehicle-producing countries and fourth among exporters.
Automotive accounted for 50 percent of Röchling's $1.7 billion in sales in 2015, with industrial accounting for 40 percent and medical another 10 percent, Duffner told Plastics News.
The group employs 8,500 at 77 locations in 22 countries and Duffner said the goal is to reach $2.8 billion in sales and 10,000 in employees by 2020.