Hydro is breaking ground in Suzhou to help satisfy the growing local demand of high-value extruded aluminium products and solutions. Its expansion is proceeding as expected, and a pinch of Chinese luck is part of the plan.
Hydro is hosting a formal ground-breaking ceremony, fireworks included, for its new extrusion facility on September 16. "The numbers 6 and 9 – for the month – are 'lucky' numbers in Chinese culture, because they sound similar to words with positive meanings," says Bruno Frederix. "We want luck on our side."
Frederix is responsible for the investment project for the general extrusion part of the investment project, and he will later become managing director for the operation. "We want to extrude our first billet in August 2012 – one month ahead of schedule," he says.
The other extrusion press, which will start production some months earlier, will be part of the existing precision tubing operation. This plant, which opened in May 2005, delivers heat transfer components and systems to the automotive industry and for other non-automotive applications, like refrigeration and residential air conditioning systems.
Hydro's NOK 315 million investment covers two new extrusion presses, including installation, building and construction, and auxiliary equipment. One of the new lines will be dedicated to heat transfer components and systems, while the other will be directed toward industrial customers who require added value services such as fabrication – the higher-end building and construction segment is an example.
Spotlight on CSR, HSE
Hydro is following up a stakeholder engagement plan that emphasizes company principles in the area of corporate social responsibility. The plan includes contractors and suppliers. The main suppliers have already signed declarations stating compliance with these principles, and they will be audited.
Frederix adds that Hydro's CSR principles are in line with those of the Suzhou Industrial Park, which is co-managed between China and Singapore.
NT4 is the main building contractor for the new facility. "We visited building sites from the final group of contractors and considered their safety conditions just as we considered their actual quotes," says Frederix.
The contractor is responsible for preparation of the grounds and construction of the buildings, including the interior. NT4 will hand over the buildings in March 2012. The facility will be built directly behind the existing plant.
Big and getting bigger
China is the largest market for extruded aluminium products in the world, representing around half of global consumption. About one-fourth of its market is located around the Yangtze River Delta, which is China's most advanced and dynamic industrial region. Suzhou is in the middle of this region.
Alongside its precision tubing customers, Hydro's Suzhou unit has built up significant general extrusion business, with fabrication capabilities adding value to the profiles. The new extrusion facility will take over this business, targeting foreign and local customers who require higher levels of quality and service than the norm.
Hydro delivers more than 100,000 extruded shapes annually in Europe alone, and with advances in its die technology, the company is continuously adding to its capabilities. Each profile is individually designed on customer demand.