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Nanshan America extrusion presses running

Keywords: Tags  Nanshan America Advanced Aluminum Technologies, Nanshan, Lijun Du, Eric Angermeier, Tim Donnelly, Lafayette plant, aluminum, aluminum extrusions extrusion presses

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Nanshan America Advanced Aluminum Technologies LLC’s two extrusion presses are up and running as the company builds a new casthouse and mulls further U.S. expansion, company executives said.

The $175-million, 600,000-square-foot facility in Lafayette, Ind., has roughly 150,000 square feet available for fabrication equipment or more presses, they said.

"We’ll let the market determine what we do there, whether it’s presses or value-added fabrication," general manager Eric Angermeier told AMM during a recent plant visit.

Nanshan America, which can make extrusions up to 85 feet long, currently sports a 5,000-tonne press from Milan, Italy-based Presezzi Extrusion SpA and a 9,200-tonne press from Mönchengladbach, Germany-based SMS Meer GmbH, company executives said.

The smaller press pushed its first billet in January and the larger one in May, Angermeier said. "We broke ground in May of 2011, completed the building in May of 2012. ... And basically in a year’s time we had all the equipment installed and running besides the casthouse," he said.

Once completed, the casthouse should have an annual capacity of about 300 million pounds, with roughly half of that production slated for Nanshan’s presses and the rest sold on the open market, company executives said.

"We decided about this time last year that we would fast-track the casthouse. We saw a market out there and decided to move ahead," Angermeier said.

In about a year, the company expects to have about 200 employees working on three shifts—24/7 at the casthouse and five to six days a week on the presses—instead of the current 100 workers on one shift. Nanshan America makes custom extrusions, standard extrusions and seamless tubing for the automotive, hydraulic and high-pressure piping sectors.

The company also has high hopes for the rail market in North America, Angermeier said. "(Rail) is not growing as fast as it is in Europe or in Asia," he said. "But we expect it to continue to grow here, especially with the millennials coming up and tending to prefer passive transportation."

On the procurement side, Nanshan will recycle its own scrap and buy metal on the open market once the casthouse is built, Tim Donnelly, Nanshan’s director of sales and marketing, said. "Hundreds of millions of pounds. We will be a significant buyer of scrap and prime."

One thing Nanshan isn’t doing is importing extrusions from China, he said. "We’ve heard that in the marketplace. But that’s just not the case. We’re manufacturing, packing and shipping made-in-Indiana."

Nanshan is a subsidiary of China’s Nanshan Group Co. Ltd. but operates as an American business, Angermeier said, noting that the company’s president, Lijun Du, graduated from Purdue University. "We’re like the Japanese transplants, except that we’re managed by Americans," he said.

Nanshan America located in Lafayette because roughly 60 percent of the market for its products is within 300 miles of Chicago. Lafayette is also close to a good interstate highway system, Angermeier said. Other locations the company considered were out of date and didn’t fit its business model, "which is really the fully automated low-cost producer and offering a lot of niche-type products," he said.

The Lafayette location is Nanshan’s first in the United States, with possibly more to come, company executives said. "They are looking at strategic acquisitions all the time ... in all industries. But they are looking hard at the aluminum industry," Angermeier said.

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