Alucast, which is based in Wednesbury, has upgraded its casting capability and opened a new 7,000 sq ft machine shop to support the growing demand of its automotive customer base for lightweight, complex components.
The independent aluminium foundry can now call upon 20 CNC machines at any one time, with five of those 5-axis.
This latest equipment, which has been supplied by the Engineering Technology Group, has given it the speed and precision necessary to meet just-in-time delivery requirements of existing and future orders.
The investment will also deliver a 30 per cent increase in capacity to take on up to £3m of new projects, not to mention the ability to reduce lead times and achieve even greater repeatable quality.
Supported by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, Black Country LEP and the Black Country Growth Deal, the machine shop was officially opened by Aston Martin Lagonda’s Independent Non-Executive Director Lord Carrington and Lord Whitby from Made in the Midlands, with staff, suppliers, partners and customers in attendance.
Alucast chairman Tony Sartorius said: “Whilst there are a lot of challenges to overcome in the current automotive sector, there are also still many opportunities for suppliers who can build strategic partnerships with their customers, helping them to design, develop and manufacture the lightweight parts of the future.
“This is what we have been able to do with Aston Martin and a number of other luxury automotive producers and, in order to meet increases in volumes, we have completed our own sizable investment in creating a world class machine shop.”
He added: “What it gives us is complete control of the machining process so that we can cast the part and machine it to the highest possible standard. Twenty-four people will be employed in this area, including operatives, supervisory staff and an apprentice, with more jobs set to follow shortly.”
Alucast will use the additional capacity to provide thin-walled lightweight castings for Aston Martin in South Wales, as well as new components for Lotus and low-pressure work for Morgan.
The new lightweight contracts should see the business work towards £8.5m sales, with automotive clients joined by a raft of customers in agriculture, hydraulics and the oil and gas industry.
John Swift, managing director at Alucast, said: “It would be quite easy for us to let the uncertainty rule our decisions, but that would be a mistake and mean we lose ground on our international rivals.
“The £2.25m we’ve invested in the new machining shop, associated R&D projects and casting facilities is absolutely vital to keeping us at the forefront of the supply chain and in a solid position to continue to grow our base in the Black Country.
“We have to be proactive in supporting our clients with their ambitious expansion plans and this investment does just that.”
Lord Carrington added: “I was delighted to see first-hand the investment Alucast has put into its business to support Aston Martin and other automotive customers. It’s a perfect example of how the supply chain can work with car makers to get ahead of the latest technologies and help deliver lighter and more efficient vehicles.”
Alucast is part of the Manufacturing Assembly Network, an eight-strong group of sub-contract manufacturers and an engineering design agency who work together to win orders and share best practice and resource.
The collective, which enjoys more than £150m sales and employs over 1600 people, can offer every engineering discipline imaginable, including automation and control systems, forging, plastic injection moulding, PCB development, precision machining, high-volume pressings and welded assemblies.
Its membership also includes Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, C-MAC SMT, Grove Design, Kimbermills International, Muller Holdings, PP Control & Automation and Ricor.