Julian Moxon/PARIS

French aeronautical fixtures manufacturer Blanc Aero Industries has extended its factory at Villefranche de Rouergue in the south of France with a Fr50 million ($8.3 million) investment in a new high capacity production unit.

Following the take-over by Blanc Aero holding company GFI of UK company Hi Shear and American Pneumatic Tool, the French company counts itself as the second largest supplier of aeronautical fixtures in the world. In the last four years, sales have doubled and exports quadrupled, with an associated doubling of the workforce, to 500. Sales of Fr406 million in 1997 are expected to grow to more than Fr511 million this year.

According to Blanc Industries president Pierre Vareille, 45% of the company's products are now exported. He says the new expansion houses "the most advanced facility of its kind in Europe", and is based around the cellular concept in which families of fixtures can be manufactured in large quantities under the "just in time" supply regime. The original factory - one of six in France, one in the UK and two in the USA - will be retained for production of more specialised components, he adds.

New capacity will be about 9 million screws and 2 million nuts a year. The installation also includes a new forgings cell. Vareille points to productivity improvements, with a staff increase of 70 planned for next year, in which production will increase in value from Fr995 million to Fr1.3 billion over the same period. A further Fr20 million expansion is planned in 1999.

Source: Flight International