Monterrey, Mexico. As part of its new focus on commercial vehicles, component builder ArvinMeritor officially opened a 40,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility here today. The company’s first all-new manufacturing plant in 19 years, it went from a green field to a working facility in just nine months, according to Carsten Reinhardt, president of ArvinMeritor’s commercial vehicle systems.
Fitted with the newest gear-cutting technology, the plant represents an initial investment of $30 million, “and we have plans to double that investment in the near future,” he said during the opening ceremonies.
Currently the plant is shipping front axles to a variety of North American truck builders, including International, Volvo and Mack. When it ramps up to its full production capacity of 500 front axles a day later this year, it will also supply front axles to Peterbilt, Kenworth, Freightliner and General Motors plants in the U.S. and Canada.
Gear production at the Monterrey facility employs a new advanced “dry cutting” technology that eliminates the need for cutting lubricants and provides flexibility to produce a wide range of gear sets without retooling, according to Chris Snodgrass, VP manufacturing and supply chain management. “We have seven gear cutting plants worldwide, but this is the most flexible and will help us better balance capacity,” he said. With a planned production capacity of 600 gear sets a day, the plant will ship gears as matched pairs to other ArvinMeritor rear axle assembly facilities in the U.S., but could also supply other world markets if necessary, according to Snodgrass.
Although no plans were confirmed, ArvinMeritor executives also hinted that rear-axle assembly could be among future plant expansion plans in Monterrey. An existing joint venture with Sistemas Automotrices de Mexico will continue manufacturing ArvinMeritor brand axles, brakes and drivelines for the domestic Mexican market.
With plans moving ahead to spin off ArvinMeritor’s light vehicle business and to concentrate on commercial and off-highway vehicle components, Reinhardt indicated that the company is not through with plant building. “The next green field site may be in Europe,” he said.