ThyssenKrupp Waupaca Inc. will restart its iron foundry in Etowah, TN, early next year, and return 250 employees to work at the operation that was idled at the start of 2010. The ferrous foundry group said the decision demonstrates its commitment to meeting long-term supply agreements with automakers and their suppliers.
The Tennessee plant had produced a wide range of automotive components, but declining demand from the stricken auto industry forced the closing. Now, according to TK Waupaca, its order volume has rebounded due to increased demand and structural capacity adjustments in the industry.
This month, maintenance and production workers laid off in 2010 may begin applying for new positions.
In the fall, a series of capital improvements will begin at the Etowah plant, including new melting, coremaking, and mill room equipment for ductile iron production. Details of the new installations were not announced, but the group said approximately 20,000-ft 2 of manufacturing space will be added to the 270,000-ft 2 plant to accommodate it. No budget for the project was reported.
The restart will be carried out in two stages:
• Gray iron casting will begin in early 2012, producing components like disc brake rotors and brake drums. The goal is to reach full capacity by mid- to late-third quarter of 2012.
• Ductile iron casting will begin in the second quarter of 2012, producing parts like differential cases and crankshafts. Full capacity would be met by first quarter of 2013.
The expanded plant’s full capacity will be 200,000 tons of gray and ductile iron.
ThyssenKrupp Waupaca — which has been offered for sale by its parent company, as it tries to reorganize its portfolio — operates five other iron foundries in Indiana and Wisconsin. The Tell City, IN, plant is the site of a $36.5-million expansion to complete a cupola dehumidification project, improve plant automation, expand a landfill, and replace an existing molding line. Those projects are to be carried out through 2014, according to a company source.
“The reopening of our Etowah foundry is good news for our customers and for the state of Tennessee, but also for the men and women we will be able to put back to work,” said Gary Gigante, President and CEO of ThyssenKrupp Waupaca, Inc. “Our facility is one of the most technologically advanced in the entire iron castings industry, and we are proud to once again be open for business in McMinn County.”
TK Waupaca to Reopen Tennessee Foundry
Plant expansion will add space for new ductile ironmaking equipment