Inside Metal Finishing’s plant, aluminum airplane components are dipped in vats of chemicals, then covered with primer, and painted to protect them from corrosion and reduce electrical conductivity.
The company was founded in Wichita, Kansas by Harley Babst in 1940. In 2011, the company opened a state-of-the-art processing facility in Chihuahua to service parts suppliers south of the border. More than half of the 2,500 parts treated at the plant every day are destined for use on Bombardier airplanes. The plant manufactures a wide variety of parts, from small clips, to stringers, skeins, and components installed in the cockpit.
"Everything from clips that are super tiny to stringers, skeins, parts that go on the cockpit," says Rene Espinosa, the plant manager, as he stands on the factory floor. "Just imagine it's a big Lego. You have a lot of little parts that get assembled together."
Metal Finishing’s manufacturing plant shows American Industries’ partnership for success in action: a U.S. company with a plant in Chihuahua, Mexico that finishes parts for international aerospace firms. Over the last 45 years, American Industries Group has helped more than 200 foreign companies start up and run manufacturing operations across Mexico, with the highest number of clients in the Chihuahua area compared to any other city. In the process, it has also created an enormous manufacturing ecosystem in Chihuahua (a city of 950,000 inhabitants), transforming the city into an industrial powerhouse. Many clients in the area provides the added benefit of allowing businesses to take advantage of the economies of scale for both production and non-production materials and services.
As an important area for aerospace manufacturing Mexico, Chihuahua is home to the largest aerospace cluster in Mexico that uses the most cutting edge software in the industry. With 6 OEMs and over 5 million square feet of industrial space, it has some of most square feet available in industrial real estate Mexico. It is also home to more than 40 certified suppliers and has around 17,000 employees working in its direct labor force. The established OEMs in Chihuahua are Textron Aviation, Bell Helicopter, Honeywell, EZ Air, Kaman and Bombardier. The main processes carried out in this industry include the manufacture of harnesses, aircraft interiors, thermal and chemical metal treatments, aerostructures, slides and rafts, composites, aero parts and sheet metal, and high-precision machining.
As a key area in the automotive industry Mexico as well, Chihuahua’s automotive cluster is mature and strong. There are more than 30 companies in the sector and 32,000 direct employment jobs, making it Mexico’s leader in direct automotive employment. Some of the largest companies that call it home include Ford, DTR, Continental, Tristone, and Yazaki, among others. The main processes carried out in the automotive sector include plastic injection, aluminum injection, precision machining, metal stamping, thermal treatment, and harness assembly.
In addition, Chihuahua is also strong in medical devices manufacturing Mexico and is home to important companies such as Conmed and Teleflex. The city is currently focusing on expanding in this sector to increase the agility and diversity of supply chains and decrease dependency on China.
In these sectors and many more, Chihuahua offers the advantage of strong ecosystem to host manufacturing companies looking to set up nearshore or offshore manufacturing in Mexico.
By Sandra Malottky | Chihuahua Business Development Manager | American Industries Group®
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