Tokyo-based Kobe Steel Ltd. revealed that its Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products LLC subsidiary in Bowling Green, KY, is expanding to add a new production line that will produce cast aluminum bars for use in automotive air-conditioning compressor parts. The $11-million addition will begin operation next August.
KAAP forges aluminum alloy components for automotive suspension systems. It started operation in 2005 with one 6,300-ton mechanical forging press, installed two more presses in 2006, and then a fourth press in 2007.
KAAP is a joint venture of Kobe Steel (60%), Mitsui & Co. Ltd. (25%) and Toyota Tsusho Corporation (15%).
Toyota Industries is preparing to manufacture automotive air-conditioning compressor parts at a new company in Georgia, Toyota Industries Compressor Parts America Co. It will begin production in September 2013 and all of its cast aluminum bars will be supplied by KAAP.
In Japan, at its Chofu Works in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Kobe Steel already produces cast aluminum bars that it supplies to Toyota Industries for producing air-conditioning compressors.
The new production line at the Kentucky plant will be installed in a building covering 39,000 sq.ft., adjacent to the existing operation. Manufacturing equipment will include melting and holding furnaces, a horizontal casting line, a homogenizing furnace, roll straightener, and peeling and inspection line. The initial production capacity will be 4,000 metric tons per year.
No operating details of the new equipment were described, and equipment suppliers were not named. Start-up is scheduled for August 2013, and Kobe Steel reported KAAP would hire 15 workers to operate the new line.
"KAAP's new investment will help address the growing demand in North America for cast aluminum bars and demonstrates our commitment to supporting our customers globally," stated KAAP president Sam Koike.