Firth Rixson plans to begin commercial production at its new seamless forged ring production facility in China by early next year.

More plants could be built in China if the project is successful, says chief executive Armand Lauzon. “There is a possibility that additional investment dollars will be going into that area,” he says.

Further acquisitions – the company acquired TRT and Schlosser last year – are also a possibility, Lauzon says. “We are in discussions with the hope of bringing other companies into our portfolio...there are no geographical limits on our acquisition appetite,” he says. Firth Rixson also has facilities in Hungary, the UK and the USA.

The company, which is majority-owned by private equity company The Carlyle Group, began construction of the 4,600m2 (50,000ft2) Firth Rixson Aerospace Components facility in Suzhou, China in October last year. “China is going to be a huge consumer of aerospace products. Our customers have a desire to sell there and we as a supplier have a responsibility to customers to get manufacturing capability in that area,” Lauzon says. The company hopes to begin the process of customer and industrial approval of manufacturing processes at the plant in September to allow for production to start early in 2006.

Lauzon says Firth Rixson has beaten expectations in sales growth and increased its profit margins in the past year, but “the biggest challenge is metal”. The company is dealing with soaring raw material prices by centralising purchasing for its business units, giving it more power as a metal purchaser; by trying to reduce input weights for its products, allowing it to use less metal and pass on savings to customers; and by increasing the amount of scrap metal returned to producers, Lauzon says.


Source: Flight International