Linamar - Putting Canada’s auto industry in the fast lane
Canada’s automotive industry is being given a boost through an aggressive expansion program announced by Linamar, a CAD $2.3 billion Corporation manufactures a range of precision metallic components and systems.
Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz.
Headquartered in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, it is in partnership with the Ontario government to invest CA$1.1 billion for projects to advance its product R&D and people development.
In April this year, Linamar acquired Ford’s Converca plant and its Power Transfer Unit (PTU) in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. “The acquisition of ACH's PTU manufacturing and product engineering capabilities, with leading-edge PTU technology, significantly enhance the depth of our Transmission/Driveline Group. It is a natural extension of our strengths which we look forward to expanding," says Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz.
Linamar Corporation was started 40 years ago by Frank Hasenfratz . Today it has 36 factories organized into five groups – Engine, Transmission/Driveline, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Industrial, 11,000 employees, five R&D centers and nine sales offices in Canada, USA, Germany, Mexico, Hungary, China, Korea and Japan.
In March, Linamar was named finalist in the process category of the 2007 Automotive News PACE Award competition for its Opti-Power design and production system. Opti-Power is an integrated design, development, and manufacturing process to produce cylinder heads with optimized flow and combustion efficiency for internal combustion engines. Linamar’s McLaren Performance Technologies division was integral in developing this technology, says Hasenfratz.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked her about the company’s approach to robotics.
Hasenfratz: We are constantly looking for ways to improve our efficiency. Sometimes making those improvements means doing some automation, or utilizing robotics to make the operator’s job easier in some way. Our answer to automation is the clever, ingenious solution that doesn’t cost much but improves a bottleneck, safety or quality issue.
AI: What are Linamar’s automation systems for the automotive sector?
Hasenfratz: Making a decision around automation needs to be a balanced one, looking at the cost of the capital associated with the automation, the efficiency savings, the quality improvements, and the potential for reducing injury potential, i.e. related to the weight of the part or the risk of repetitive movements. High volume programs increase the risk of repetitive movements and mean a higher overall weight of lifting in a shift. The health and safety side of that equation is compelling, as is the need for consistent repeatable quality in such a scenario.
AI: Where do you see growth for Linamar coming from?
Hasenfratz: We see great growth potential for our automotive business as our customers look to outsource more powertrain components and modules as they streamline their own operations. Similarly, our automotive business has great growth potential in both Europe and Asia where today Linamar is small but with the same capabilities to grow.
AI: Do you plan any more acquisitions and if so, where?
Hasenfratz: Our business has been built on a combination of acquisitions and greenfield plant construction. I expect that same pattern to continue into the future, with our acquisition strategy focused around companies that fill a hole in our strategy, whether it provides expertise around a particular component or module critical to a targeted module or system, or some technology innovation for products our customers can benefit from or processes to improve efficiency and competitiveness.