The State of Sonora in Mexico has signed a letter of intent to support a £6m investment in the region by Nuneaton-based precision machining firm JJ Churchill Engineering.
JJ Churchill Engineering, which is set to invest in the manufacture of gas turbine aerofoils in Mexico, joins a growing community of manufacturers in the region as part of the Sonora AeroEngine Cluster.
“Sonora was chosen after a careful review of several other low cost countries and other Mexican states,” said Andrew Churchill, managing director at JJ Churchill.
“The fact that JJ Churchill could find most of the required special processes and services essential to the manufacturing of its products within a radius of eight miles has played a significant role in the decision of the company to establish in Guaymas, Sonora. There is no other cluster with such level of integration.”
The Sonoran factory will allow JJ Churchill to increase its competitiveness on high volume components, according to the managing director.
With the addition of the new Mexican facility, the firm will now have a strong presence in all three stages of the product production lifecycle: from new product introduction, through to volume production and after-market demand.
However, recruitment will undoubtedly be one of the road-blocks the company has to address in Mexico, says Mr Churchill. “The aerospace sector is still relatively young and a ready-trained and skilled workforce simply doesn’t exist in large enough numbers for us to turn-up in Guaymas, Sonora, and start manufacturing,” he comments.
“The good news is that the basic educational skill sets appear to be there, the desire of young people to become manufacturing engineers is refreshing and the state government is very keen to help support our training needs. It will be a steady process of building a workforce for the future.”
The investment represents a significant step in the company’s plan to solidify its status as a “preferred supplier” with its main OEM customers.
Its initial ‘seed’ project customer will be Rolls-Royce in North America, but the 38,000sq ft plant will be for a variety of aerospace customers.
JJ Churchill, which was founded in 1937, supplies to OEMs such as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Cummins, Perkins, Siemens and Alstom.
“The investment of JJ Churchill is additional confirmation of our strategic drive towards attracting gas-turbine components manufacturing” says, the Secretary of Economy for Sonora Moisés Gómez Reyna.
He added: “JJ Churchill grows the capabilities of our cluster that now covers investment casting, precision machining, brazing, heat treating and coating, and that also benefits from having an international procurement office of Rolls-Royce based here.”
JJ Churchill is currently undertaking a process to select equipment suppliers.