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Technocast starts production on engine blocks, heads.

New iron casting plant Technocast, Saltillo, Mexico, will begin production this month after final testing is completed on castings produced on its green sand molding line.

The 550,000-sq.-ft. casting facility, which will manufacture engine blocks and heads for off-road earth moving equipment and on-highway truck engines, is a joint venture established in 2005 between Mexico-based Grupo Industrial Saltillo (GIS) and Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill.

The initial plan for the metalcasting firm is to take on high volume jobs, some of which will replace castings produced at the Mapleton, Ill., Caterpillar casting facility. Technocast will start production on five engine cylinder blocks and three cylinder heads in 2007, eventually taking on 22 jobs by the end of 2009. The first projects will be the highest volume, at 6,000 units a month. The average casting size is 460 lbs. for heads and 712 lbs. for blocks.

The joint venture grew from GIS's desire to build a strong relationship with a strategic customer and Caterpillar's search for high volume production.

"Because of higher productivity labor, this region in Mexico is the best location for manufacturing facilities in this industry," said Juan R. Aguirre, manager of Technocast.

A $160 million investment, Technocast has a long-term agreement with Caterpillar to supply castings for more than 15 years. The facility's setup, which was engineered by Vulcan Engineering, Helena, Ala., incorporates two finishing and two Loramendi coremaking lines with a single Kuenkel-Wagner molding line. The capacity is balanced so that as one product line's molds are cooling, both product lines are running through the finishing department, which was equipped by Fanuc, Reichman, Scheoul, Pangborn and Maus. The molding line is fed by three ABB furnaces collectively melting 45 tons/hour. General Kinematics installed the plant's shakeout and cooling conveyance equipment.

"We wanted a single stream production flow with as little process interruption as possible," said Juan C. Valdez, project manager for the new facility. Productivity at Technocast is expected to be double that of nearby Cifunsa, and equal to that of the Mapleton plant.

The facility was designed for annual production of 93,000 metric tons in three shifts working 296 days. Once in full production, Technocast could employ as many as 700 people.

MODERN CASTING will profile this facility in the fall of 2007.
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Title Annotation:North America
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Previous Article:Casting buyers are people too.
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