Sumitomo Aims for Larger Crankshaft Market Share

Consolidating Norton Mfg. creates integrated manufacturing system

Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. and its affiliate Sumitomo Corp. are promoting a new manufacturing brand in North America — SMI Crankshaft L.L.C. The company is a consolidation of SMI’s International Crankshaft subsidiary and its recent acquisition, Norton Manufacturing Co.

The two owners describe SMI Crankshaft L.L.C. as “an integrated manufacturing system, from base metal manufacturing to forging and machining.” The organization includes forging billets produced at Sumitomo’s Osaka Steel Works, in Japan.

Sumitomo claims it controls about 8% of the global automotive crankshaft market, and supplies the U.S. through is International Crankshaft Inc. operation in Georgetown, KY. Sumitomo Metal and Sumitomo Corp. established ICI in 1990, and it started operating in 1992. It has two forging presses (one rated at 6,000 tons; the other at 7,000 tons) and a capability of about 1.4 million crankshafts per year.

Plans for a third press at ICI, another 6,000-ton unit, were announced two years ago. The project was estimated at $39 million and targeted a 2009 launch of operation for the new press.

Norton, in Fostoria, OH, is machining operation that specializes in crankshafts, both forged and cast products. At that time of the takeover, Sumitomo said adding Norton's operations would allow it to establish a "comprehensive crankshaft production framework, from base material production to forging and machining."

The new “brand” signals an effort to reclaim crankshaft machining business from automotive manufacturers that traditionally have done the job on their own. Norton represents Sumitomo’s first specialized machining organization — lathe turning, polishing, and heat treatment — and thus allows the group “to establish an integrated manufacturing system. “

Sumitomo Metal Industries acquired 60% of Norton Manufacturing in August 2007. Sumitomo Corp., a trading company, bought 40%. The total purchase was reported to be valued at $50 million.

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