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Meeting the future today: Hexpol continues to expand capacity in Mexico.

Careful planning and timely expansion have positioned Hexpol to meet the growing demand for compounding in Mexico. Significant expansion in capacity and capabilities over the past two years at Hexpol's two campuses in Mexico include the addition of mixing lines and a new cold room for temperature control to support sensitive, specialized product demand.

In 2013, Hexpol installed a third mixing line to Aguascalientes, increasing capacity from 18,000 metric tons per year to 27.000 metric tons. A second mixing line was installed at the Queretaro campus in 2014, increasing capacity from 29,000 metric tons to 41,000. Total current Mexican capacity is 68.000 metric tons per year. They proved to be a solid investment. Customer demand, still increasing, resulted in plans for a third mixing line at Queretaro, currently under construction.

The installation of this new, advanced 135 L rubber mixing line, at a cost of approximately $9.2 million, will include significant building and infrastructure extensions to the Queretaro campus. The new line will increase Hexpol's total rubber compounding capacity in Mexico to more than 80,000 metric tons per year. The new line is scheduled to be commissioned and on stream sometime in the second half of 2016.

"When the new line is operational, we will have six advanced mixing lines with 'best-in-class' equipment and technology," explained Tracy Garrison, president and chief executive officer of Hexpol Compounding North America. "As our customers grow, we will be prepared to support their continued success."

Hexpol has been in operation in Mexico longer than any other rubber compounder, since 2000. Queretaro recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. With its recent expansions, Hexpol is clearly the largest custom compounder in Mexico. Both campuses are top performing operations for Hexpol World Wide and have received several awards.

Technology, production capacity and people

Growth in Mexico is largely the result of booming business in the automotive industry. There are currently 16 auto plants in Mexico's automotive production corridor, and four more will be coming soon: Audi in Puebla; BMW in San Luis Potosi; Nissan/Daimler in Aguascalientes; and Kia in Nuevo Leon. New tier 1 and tier 2 automotive parts manufacturers are coming as well, increasing the already substantial number of these plants in Mexico.

"Hexpol's timely expansion to become a key link to the automotive supply chain is the result of our commitment to the Mexican compounding market," said Francisco Viliesid, Queretaro managing director. "We are recognized for our high-end manufacturing capacity, as well as quality and worldwide technical service support."

Anticipating customer growth and expanding production needs for automotive customers is only part of the story. While this investment in rubber compounding capacity certainly supports the growing demand from Hexpol's automotive and engineering customers, we also anticipate growth and significant opportunities in the mining and energy markets in Mexico and South America.

Viliesid explained, "Liberal reforms on foreign investment, recently brought about by the Mexican government, will bring in manufacturers from around the globe." To meet that anticipated demand, Hexpol is considering further expansions to the two existing campuses, as well as other geographical regions, such as the north of Mexico.

"We anticipate growth rates in Mexico of at least 15% per year to continue, mainly from the automotive industry, complemented by our growth strategy for energy and mining," explained Saul Reyes, business development manager for Mexico and South America. "That exceeds Hexpol's overall targeted sales growth of 10% for 2015." Reyes said that expanding production capacity and technology use is critical, but investing in people is just as important.

Ernesto Gutierrez, managing director of Aguascalientes, agrees. For example, he cited the new business development manager at Aguascalientes who is working with and developing closer relationships with automotive OEMs and tier 1 and tier 2 parts manufacturers.

"To succeed in the rapidly growing market we are experiencing in Mexico, and to keep it sustainable, the key is our people," Gutierrez said. "We need to prepare them to face new challenges and serve our customers' changing needs, reinforcing our technical service and support areas."

To that end, the campuses in Mexico are taking advantage of Hexpol's organizational development programs, including sales training, technical service training, leadership development and global leadership.

Reyes said that Hexpol is working with customers in Mexico to partner with them on new projects, becoming part of the development team. "We are concentrating on better serving customers by supporting their project management activities. With Hexpol's continuous process improvement services, we are helping them improve their process quality, productivity and performance," he explained.

The Hexpol team in Mexico is closely observing multiple markets, keeping one step ahead of growth trends to ensure we are ready to take advantage of new opportunities and prepare for additional investments if needed.

"As the leading and largest rubber compounder in Mexico, North America and worldwide, Hexpol is a strategic partner, collaborating with our customers and providing an array of mixing and custom development solutions, as well as process improvement ideas that bring value to their operations," Garrison concluded.

Hexpol's campuses in Mexico offer state-of-the-art capabilities

Aguascalientes

* Three (3) mixing lines (3 x 90 L)

* 27,000 tpa name plate capacity

* Gearpump strainer

* In-line straining and granulation (pelletizing)

* Strips, slabs

* Multiple packaging options

* Cold room facility

* Black compounds

* State-of-the-art laboratory and testing facilities. Capable of performing all standard QA tests.

Queretaro

* Two (2) mixing lines (1@ 250 L, 1@ 135 L)

* Third mixing line second half 2016

* 53,000 tpa name plate capacity

* Gearpump strainer

* In-line straining, granulation (pelletizing)

* Strips, slabs

* Multiple packaging options

* Black compounds

* State-of-the-art laboratory and testing facilities. Capable of performing all standard QA tests.

* Product development capability

Donald Picard, VP Sales & Marketing, Hexpol
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Title Annotation:Perspective
Author:Picard, Donald
Publication:Rubber World
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Nov 1, 2015
Words:944
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