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Firm to open $23 million facility, expand production

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PMG Indiana is opening a $23 million addition next week, adding a production line to manufacture oil pump parts for GMC Sierras and Chevrolet Silverados.

The new, 33,000-square-foot building is adjacent to the 180,000-square-foot PMG facility on Arcadia Drive.

The addition is expected to generate at least 25 and possibly as many as 40 jobs in engineering support and quality support for manufacturing lines. PMG Indiana currently employs 365 full-time workers and 40 part-time and temporary associates.

Josep Planas, president of PMG Indiana Corp., said the new addition will help increase market share by producing the company’s three core components — one-way clutch systems, variable cam timing systems and variable displacement vane pumps (VDVPs).

“We are already the global market leader in the one-way clutch systems, and we are on our way to achieving that with the other core products,” Planas said.

Columbus native Gov. Mike Pence is among those expected to attend an opening ceremony for the new plant Thursday.

PMG Indiana produces about 24 million components per year at the existing plant. Opening of the addition will increase that number by 2.5 million annually, a 9.6 percent increase.

Product benefits

The VDVPs produced in the new building will be used primarily in the engine oil pump of the Sierra and Silverado vehicles. The units are being used more often in the auto industry because of the part’s effect on fuel economy and response to increased emission regulations.

Within the industry, VDVPs are gaining popularity because of their ability to reduce noise, leakage and other factors that affect performance.

Bret Viant, engineering manager for PMG Indiana, said the pumps also are attractive to automakers because of their energy-saving capability.

“With the VDVP, at higher speeds it uses less oil to do the lubrication and at lower speeds it uses more oil to perform that function,” Viant said.

The new line will use powder metallurgy, or PM, to form metal parts by heating compacted metal powders to just below their melting points.

In the PMG production process, the raw material is compacted in a press and undergoes a heat-treatment process known as sintering. It is then sized for dimensional accuracy, steam-treated to provide an oxide layer for wear characteristics, grinded, brushed, washed and packed.

The production lines at the new building will be fully automated and use a one-piece flow concept.

“The product goes directly from raw material to final packaging without human contact, which maximizes quality control,” Planas said. “The critical characteristics are controlled in the integrated system, and the process inspections are done automatically.”

The process may be a little daunting for the average person to comprehend, but the attention to detail and precision involved in the production benefit millions of consumers.

The typical American-made vehicle can contain as many as 1,000 individual powder metal parts representing 325 applications, according to Metal Powder Industry Federation statistics.

The federation is a nonprofit organization formed to advance the interests of the metal powder producing and consuming industries.

Economic rebound

As with many other automobile parts suppliers, PMG Indiana experienced some lean times during the economic downturn but has rebounded strongly.

In 2009, at the peak of the U.S. automobile industry’s financial troubles, PMG Indiana’s parts sales totaled $34 million. As the auto industry has rebounded, and with the new line, parts sales for 2014 are estimated at $66 million.

The company that is now PMG Indiana came to Columbus in 1988 when Mitsubishi Metal Corp. purchased land and established Diamet Corp. A year later, it moved into the facility on Arcadia Drive.

The company continued to expand and experienced some ownership changes, culminating in 2011 with the acquisition of the PMG Group by German-based VVG.

Jan Boram, human resources manager for PMG Indiana, said a commitment to its workforce and the city of Columbus and the development of high-quality products have remained PMG Indiana’s guiding principles.

“Our employees are really active in the United Way, and we match 100 percent,” Boram said. “We foster a family atmosphere, and we have a lot of families working here.”

Materials manager Randy Hampton has been with PMG for 25 years and said it has been a great place to work.

“They’ve been very good to the community and have always had opportunities for advancement and growth,” Hampton said. “We’re a very closely bonded team, and the people here have a lot of passion for the work.”

As the industry continues to evolve, PMG Indiana is working on initiatives to allow its current workforce to keep pace and to cultivate the next generation of employees.

“We have some students from the high school that are part of the career-development program,” Boram said. “We are also working on some things with Ivy Tech Community College to enhance the skill set of existing employees, as well as to recruit and hire skilled individuals.”

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