For over 75 years, Mecachrome has served as a global leader in the design, engineering, manufacturing, and assembling of complex precision-engineered components for aircraft and automotive applications. 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of their division in Canada and Charles Magnan, Vice President of Sales and Engineering of Mecachrome Canada, talks about the success they've been enjoying in the North American markets, the depth of impact their products have within the aerospace and automotive sectors, and why demand, and sales, of their products are only going up. Steve Engelhardt reports.
Click here to read the complete illustrated article as originally published or scroll down to read the text article.
In 2002, Mecachrome acquired Aero Machining in Canada, setting the stage for a long-term presence in North America. By 2004, executives deemed operations in Canada as “good to go” and launched Mecachrome Canada as a full-functioning subsidiary, to impact the Canadian and U.S. aerospace markets where their France-based parent company could not. Magnan says that while this signified the start of their branch, the most significant impacts made and major partnerships brokered have for the most part come within the last 5 years. “Many companies similar to us went under during the economic recession of 2009-2010, and we took this time to take a step back and reassess what we wanted our identity, which was a high-volume machining company at the time, to be going forward,” he says.
Magnan says rather than continue along their initial route and inevitably engage in price wars, they opted to invest in becoming integrators, incorporating the capabilities of engineering and designing along with their preexisting manufacturing prowess. “We wanted to go up the food chain, so to speak, and not only do manufacturing,” he says, adding, “after some investments, we were able to find our first customer in 2011; a project where we would be responsible for the not just the manufacture, but the initial design and build of their aircraft components.”
Since then, the company has taken on integration work for some of the world’s most prestigious aircraft businesses, including a couple of projects in 2012 with the Bombardier 7000, and one with GE Aviation in 2013 as well. “As a supplier to the aircraft industry here in North America for the last ten years, we had initially did ‘build to print’ on one side, and a little bit of engineering with packages on the other, but never did any integration work between the two until recently,” he says, continuing, “this incorporation of capabilities has taken us a long way in terms of our credibility with our existing customers and the open market, and more importantly, reflects our identity of a Tier-2 supplier with Tier-1 ambition.”
So, exactly, what kind of aircraft parts are manufactured, and in some cases, designed and engineered by Mecachrome Canada? The list is expansive, ranging from structural fuselage assemblies, engine pylon parts, and thruster parts, to wing parts, landing gear components, and aeronautical engine modules. Of all their products they are capable of manufacturing, however, Magnan says the highest in demand are their pylon parts, and nose and wing-based solutions.
Magnan says that Mecachrome Canada was selected in 2011 to design, fabricate, and assemble a ‘next generation pylon’ by Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS), further displaying the aerospace industry’s acknowledgment of their commitment to quality and craft. The result was a state-of-the-art product whose demand has increasingly risen in the few years it has been available. With regards to their nose and wing products and services, Mecachrome has engaged in partnerships with companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Bulfstream, Bombardier, and Learjet, to supply everything from landing gear boxes and wing skins, to conducting a stress analysis of the fuselage or the production of stub wing designs.
“We consider ourselves as experts in these areas, and when individuals and businesses across the aerospace industry are looking for these types of parts, Mecachrome is the name they look to first,” Magnan says.
Nearly all of Mecachrome Canada’s engineering and manufacturing is done at their 170,000-square-foot facility in Mirabel, Quebec. In addition to an in-house engineering team capable of designs and modifications, Mecachrome Canada’s solid model design equipment capabilities include CNC high speed 5-axis milling machinery, advanced CMM abilities, and a CATIA network providing conceptual design, engineering analysis and CNC programming.
“Our manufacturing presence is a huge strength for us, and while everything is under one roof, we have it all organized down to a science,” he says, adding, “Our quality department tracks each product number and ensures that all parts are up to date, an effort reinforced by our AS9100 Revision C designation.”
The AS9100 Revision C appointment is particularly impressive, as it represents a widely adopted and standardized quality measurement system for the aerospace industry, but includes a number of additional requirements surrounding quality and safety when compared to the ISO 9001.
Magnan says that lean manufacturing also has a huge presence within their facility. “We implement lean principles across all of our operations, from design engineering, to tooling, parts fabrications, and finishing product assembly,” he says, adding, “Lean manufacturing supported by a continuous improvement process ensures permanent added value to our customers.”
“In terms of manufacturing services, we’re widely known for our high speed aluminum machining, hard metal machining, and surface treatment; all of which is done with the goal of developing high quality, critical parts that serve to enhance an aircraft’s overall integrity.”
Magnan says that in addition to producing high-quality parts, his company also likes to engage in high-quality partnerships. “We look at our customers, and even competing companies, as potential partners, and try to find ways where it’s a ‘Win-Win’ for both sides.” He says that they recently entered into a agreement with a fellow Canadian aerospace supplier called Sonica, where Mecachrome will be handling a lot of machining capabilities for them while they provide a fair amount of service treatment, creating a business relationship that is mutually beneficial. “This kind of agreement is kind of new in our industry, a situation where there’s millions of dollars flowing both ways,” he says, adding, “But now when customers look at one supplier, they will also have access to the other, which I think is a great thing because it gives the customer a broader selection of options while providing us with a greater level of visibility to potentially new audiences.”
Representing itself as a dynamic manufacturer, Mecachrome Canada is a company that is on rise. With major growth in 2014, the company’s North American market share is steadily growing and doesn’t look t stop any time soon. And why should it? Mecachrome Canada represents an aerospace supplier that unquestioningly commits itself to quality and reliability, while also demonstrating the ability to innovate and be flexible when possible. Look for the name Mecachrome to continue to shine across North America and the rest of the world for many years to come.