Aluminum Corp. will continue to boost capacity as it looks to
seize expected growth in the automotive and aerospace sectors,
Kaiser chairman, president and chief executive officer Jack
Hockema said during a conference call July 25.
The Foothill Ranch,
Calif.-based aluminum company can, for example, supply
aluminum-lithium applications to the aerospace sector from a
developmental caster at its plant in Newark, Ohio, Hockema
"We can supply
aluminum lithium today, and we could grow that," Hockema said.
"Its really a matter of casting. ... If the market ever
develops to be a substantial (one), we will make the
investments required to participate."
alloys are expected by some experts to gain traction in the
aerospace market as an alternative light-weighting material to
amm.com, July 17). While Kaiser did not announce plans
to boost aluminum-lithium capacity, the company said it is
moving forward with a $45 million investment to increase heat
treat plate capacity by about 10 percent at its Trentwood,
Wash., facility, as well as a $35 million project to add a new
casting unit at the plant, Hockema said. The heat treat
expansion is slated for completion by the end of the year and
the casting facility by the end of the second quarter of 2014,
The new casting
operation at Trentwood should reduce costs associated with
externally sourcing rolling ingot, Hockema said. Kaiser is also
"on track" with investments to support new automotive
extrusions programs contracted and scheduled to launch over the
next three years, he said.
The company expects to
spend $15 million to add processing capability necessary for
the new auto programs.
"We see as much or
more growth in automotive over the next several years as we do
in aerospace," Hockema said.
Automotive build rates
are expected to be off slightly in the second half of 2013 but
the dip should be "more than offset" through recouping better
margins per vehicle from aluminum extrusions as new vehicle
programs ramp up in the remainder of 2013, Hockema said.
expect automotive demand for aluminum to increase in coming
years in response to customer demand and government
requirements for lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles (amm.com, June 21)
But while Kaiser
maintained its optimistic outlook on aerospace and automotive,
it remains cautious about general engineering and industrial
applications, Hockema said. The sector benefitted from "modest"
supply chain restocking in the second quarter, but its
prospects are limited given the fact that the U.S.
manufacturing recovery continues to be "feeble," he said.