With the full support of the local government, Latécoère established in Hermosillo, Sonora, close to the US border but in a strategic location without too much competition for talented candidates.
The French manufacturer of doors and fuselages, which is also the second-largest European supplier of harnesses and turned 100 years old in 2017, chose this location to be closer to its clients in Charleston and Wichita. In Hermosillo, the plant has two main divisions: Aerostructures and Interconnection Systems. The plant occupies a 16,000m2 space, of which 8,000m2 constitute the Interconnection Systems division and 4,000m2 is allocated to Aerostructures. The remaining 4,000m2 are still free but the company aims to use this space to expand its production lines for the Interconnection Systems division.
Latécoère’s Aerostructures division manufactures passenger doors for the Boeing 787 and will ship its 2,000th door in November 2017. Latécoère aims to increase its production to include baggage doors for Bombardier CRJ700 and CRJ900 aircraft by the end of 2017. Expanding this division is harder than it seems. “Growth in the Aerostructures segment is more complicated. Given the length of time involved in the development of new aircraft, the related production for subcontractors will only really take off from 2025. Nevertheless, we are focused on the optimal execution of our order book,” says Patrick Bernard, General Manager at Latécoère. This division receives semi-finished parts and assembles them. When the plant began production, it took between 60 and 70 days to finish a door but those times have been gradually reduced through the implementation of lean manufacturing practices. The company’s goal for 2018 is to reduce that time to 25 days.
On the other side of the floor, the Interconnection Systems division produces a variety of complex harnesses, such as the 20VU section harnesses, complete wings, wingtips, flaps, power feeders and vertical tail plane harnesses for different Airbus aircraft, including the A320, A330 and A350. These products are shipped to France and Germany. The division’s manufacturing process is entirely different from that for Aerostructures as the production of harnesses is a manual, almost artisanal process with significant changes from product to product and aircraft to aircraft. To improve productivity and reduce costs, the company has invested in a pull system and full kitting techniques.