Strengthen Core While Looking for New OpportunitiesSat, 09/01/2018 - 10:50
Few inputs are as important for the automotive industry as steel. But the trend of lightweighting has prompted automakers to substitute metal for plastic and to choose aluminum over steel to harness the advantages of a lighter vehicle. Foundries and casting companies must also change to meet the new market’s needs, says Raúl López, Managing Director of AAM Casting, formerly known as Novocast.
Although AAM Casting’s performance has not yet been affected by the rise of aluminum in the automotive market, López recognizes the risk. “The main challenges we face are the change of platforms and the threat posed by aluminum,” says López. The company participates in the construction of vehicle platforms such as GM’s full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs, which are changing some portion to aluminum. The company operates as a Tier 1 supplier of brackets, axle carriers and other medium-size parts and as a Tier 2 supplier of semi-finished goods for auto parts manufacturers. López enumerates General Motors, FCA, John Deere and Freightliner as El Carmen AAM Casting’s OEM clients and Meritor, Linamar, DANA and SISAMEX as its main partners in the Tier 2 segment. “More than 60 percent of all axle carriers for light trucks are produced by AAM Casting,” he says. “AAM’s Casting division is one of the largest foundries of ductile iron and one of the largest producers of foundry parts in North America.”
AAM has yet to enter the aluminum market but the company has implemented a strategy to engage in different projects from their development stage, thus adding value to the component while increasing quality and reducing costs. After being acquired by US automotive component manufacturer American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM), Monterrey-based foundry Novocast has further inserted itself in the US supply chain as part of AAM Casting’s network. López says that delivery times, costs and quality have improved as AAM integrates Novocast vertically. “We have brought new technologies, engineering processes and productivity concepts,” he says. “US companies are strongly focused on automation and capital investment and Mexico has made several advances in productivity.”
López highlights that El Carmen AAM Casting wants to increase its presence in the heavy vehicle sector and collaborate more with manufacturers of brake systems and other components. “We want to grow our presence with the American manufacturers we do not work with yet and boost competitiveness in our product portfolio,” he says. “AAM Casting has boosted El Carmen’s previous global presence and we are open to new ideas and technologies where we can participate.”