Vehicle body part manufacturer upgrades its Kentucky facility

The automotive sector accounts for a significant portion of the overall manufacturing industry. When car makers and suppliers announce plans to expand operations, it usually signals growth and means companies will have to begin looking for highly skilled workers to fill new positions.

This is likely the case with Aleris International, a major supplier for vehicles in the European market. However, the company is increasingly eyeing North American automakers because of the push for more fuel-efficient vehicles, explained The Associated Press.

Demand rising for lighter automobiles
Aleris has been one of the leading suppliers for the European market because it uses advanced aluminum materials in its production of automotive parts.

"We have partnered with customers in the premium automotive segment from our Duffel, Belgium facility for years to develop and produce some of the most technically advanced lightweight aluminum solutions available today," explained Steve Demetriou, Aleris CEO.

However, North American car makers have traditionally used heavier materials like steel and composites to manufacture vehicles. European car companies have been met with more stringent emission standards, calling for lighter materials for the bodies of cars, trucks and vans.

North American cars may begin using lighter materials
New research suggests that North American automobile producers will likely move in this direction sooner rather than later. The AP cited data from Ducker Worldwide, finding the demand for aluminum sheet metal for vehicle bodies is predicted to jump from 200 million pounds in 2012 to 4 billion pounds by 2025. A few of the most attractive features of aluminum are its strength, low weight and recyclability.

New Kentucky plant under construction beginning in the fall
Crain's Cleveland Business explained the Aleris facility upgrade will cost roughly $350 million to complete construction, which is expected to be finished by 2017. Because of the predicted demand for light-weight materials, the aluminum rolling mill will eventually reach an annual production capacity of 480 million pounds of sheet metal.

The facility upgrade will include new capabilities, such as heat treatment and finishing equipment. There will also be a new automotive innovation center, cold mill and two continuous annealing lines, explained Automotive News.

The push for more fuel-efficient and light-weight vehicles in the North American market will likely require a few adjustments on the part of manufacturers and supply chain managers. Technical recruiters can help organizations find individuals with relevant skills to help bring new facilities up to speed more quickly and ensure sustained growth.