CELAYA, Mexico—Manufacturing in Mexico is working out well for Rehau A.G. & Co.
The manufacturer of polymer-based systems for the construction, automotive and other industries expanded its Celaya, Mexico, factory in August. About the same time, it won Q1 certification from Ford Motor Co., designating it as a preferred Ford supplier of extruded parts and assembly.
“The Celaya plant started out manufacturing gaskets,” said Bernd Kupferer, Rehau business unit manager-appliance. “The majority of refrigerator gaskets in Mexico are made by Rehau. But it diversified into the automobile and furniture businesses,” he said. “In recent years, there has been steady growth in the Mexican auto industry, which has also spurred growth in Celaya.”
To accommodate its growth, the firm added 13,000 square feet of space to the Celaya site.
The expansion included administrative offices, meeting rooms, a training facility and an indoor/outdoor dis- play of the company's various polymer-based solutions for a broad range of industries.
Wide product range
Besides refrigerator gaskets and automotive extrusions, the Celaya plant produces a number of the Rehau, Germany-headquartered company's proprietary sustainable building and renewable energy systems. These include EdgeBent laminate office furniture, EcoAir ground-air heat exchangers, Raucord polymer wicker outdoor furniture, Relazzo wood-polymer composite decking and the Rehau Acoustic Line sound-absorbing tambour doors.
Rehau has eight sales and manufacturing regions around the world, according to Helmut Grohschaedl, who is Rehau's business unit manager-windows and doors. The company was founded as a three-man operation in 1948, and today has 170 locations located throughout the world and employs 15,000.
It offers what it calls “Unlimited Polymer Solutions” for a wide range of customers around the world.
In the construction industry alone, Rehau provides products and systems for the window and door, heating and plumbing, fire protection and pipe markets, according to the company.
Rehau specializes in creating sustainable design priorities for homes and public buildings that reduce energy costs, create healthy environments and conserve finite resources while enhancing comfort and convenience, the firm said.
For the automotive industry, Rehau manufactures thermoplastic sealing systems, bumpers, fenders, and intelligent modules for water and air management. For product manufacturing, the company offers innovative, high-performance products for the appliance, furniture, transportation and other markets.
Rehau has two basic approaches to its sealing business, either co-extruded or post-extruded seals, according to Grohschaedl.
Much of Rehau manufacturing for the window and door markets—including window and door profiles as well as seals—is in Canada, said Grohschaedl, who is based at the firm's U.S. headquarters in Leesburg. The Winnipeg, Manitoba, operation alone accounts for about one-third of the company's global PVC window profile business, he said.
Rehau also provides EPDM seals from Canada, though these are purchased from a third-party supplier, Grohschaedl said.
For the appliance industry, Rehau makes gaskets from rigid PVC and silicone, according to Kupferer.
“We do a great deal in commercial cooling solutions, such as large chest freezers with glass doors for supermarkets,” Kupferer said. “It's the same gasket system as in household manufacturing, using flexible PVC and TPE profiles.”
One of Rehau's most innovative uses of refrigeration technology is its SkiLine ski jump, which utilizes polymeric surfacing and crosslinked PE tubing to provide ski jumpers with a reliable surface for their sport.
“You could have a channel for a ski jump even at positive temperatures,” Kupferer said. Rehau uses the same technology for heating and plumbing applications, he said.
So far Rehau has installed SkiLine jumps only in Europe, but there are projects scheduled to install it in the U.S., Kupferer said.