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Auto Slowdown Hits Key Forging Supplier

Release time : 2015-06-15 12:45:27
Meadville Forge Group (a division of Keller Group; website), along with its divisions, Virginia Forge and Carolina Forge, have been forced to cut back employment and production as the slump in global auto and truck production continues. The Meadville, Virginia and Carolina Forge operations are key suppliers to the bearing industry across North America. Together, these factories supply the vast majority of the hub and spindle forgings -- including broached, drilled and finish machined components -- used by bearing manufacturers to produce wheel bearing hub assembly units, both OEM and aftermarket. Until recently, the Meadville operation had focused on larger forgings for heavy-duty truck and SUV wheel bearing applications, kingpins, trailer and rail components. It has now moved deeper into smaller automotive sizes, and also added capacity to produce transmission and driveline components. Meadville Forge operations (including a sister machining plant in Cambridge Springs) are still expecting demand to hold at nearly 22 million wheel bearing forgings for 2008. The least hardest hit, Meadville needed layoffs in September to cut approximately 4% of its workforce but still employs over 360 people. Virginia Forge (Buchanan, W.VA), a smaller 60,000 square foot factory, has also seen wheel bearing forging demand continue to slow. Average monthly production in 2008 is reportedly off 26% from 2007, from an average of 342,000 hub and spindle forgings per month to just 250,000 per month in 2008. As a consequence, even the highly-automated Virginia Forge facility has been forced to cut its workforce from 63 at the beginning of the year to 49 today. Carolina Forge has been impacted the most. In November, Carolina laid off all of its temporary workers and 27 full-time employees, or 18% of its permanent workforce. The former Nucor Bearing Products operation is now down to 124 full-time workers, but does not expect any further layoffs.