Alcoa Expands in Indiana to Capture Growing Aerospace Demand

Alcoa Expands in Indiana to Capture Growing Aerospace Demand

May 30, 2014
The plant use latest in advanced manufacturing technologies including digital x-ray, 3D printing and robotics.

Alcoa (IW 1000/193) broke ground on May 29 on a $100 million aerospace expansion in La Porte, Indiana where it will produce nickel-based superalloy jet engine parts.

The new 320,000-square-foot facility will expand Alcoa’s reach from structural engine components for business and regional jets to large commercial aircraft, including narrow- and wide-body and military airplanes. 

“Aerospace growth is soaring and Alcoa is ramping up our downstream capabilities to capture that demand,” said Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld. “Applying our industry-leading expertise, this facility will deliver highly engineered parts our customers need to build some of the best selling engines and at high volumes.”

The plant will increase the company’s capacity to supply engines for narrow-body aircraft. It also will enable Alcoa to produce parts nearly 60% larger than components it makes today, expanding its market reach to wide-body airplanes. These components are used in the compression and hot sections of the engine.

The expansion will create 329 jobs by 2019. Construction of the plant is underway and is expected to be complete by the fourth quarter of 2015.

The facility will use the latest in high-tech advanced manufacturing equipment, including digital x-ray for real-time quality assurance, 3D printing of prototypes, blue light technology for more comprehensive dimensional inspection data, and automated casting furnaces with advanced controls to meet precise product specifications.

“Hoosiers are expert builders, constructing airplane components and lifting our Indiana economy,” said Governor Mike Pence. “Indiana-manufactured goods serve industries in all corners of the world, reaching new heights in business and, for Alcoa, in the skies. With the Hoosier State’s commitment to creating a business-friendly environment, companies are able to find the resources they need to soar in Indiana, a state that works for business.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation has offered Alcoa up to $4 million in conditional tax credits based on the Company’s job creation plans. In addition, the city of La Porte has approved tax incentives worth $7.1 million over a 10-year period.

This is the second major aerospace investment by Alcoa in Indiana in two years. In 2012, Alcoa announced construction of a $90 million greenfield state-of-the-art aluminum lithium facility at its Lafayette operations. The facility is on schedule to open later this year and will be capable of producing upwards of 20,000 metric tons of Alcoa’s patented aluminum-lithium alloys used to build dramatically lighter and lower-cost airplanes versus composite alternatives.

In celebration of the expansion, the Alcoa Foundation is granting $60,000 to Ivy Tech Community College—Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually. The funds will support the launch of a nationally recognized certification program and a class on Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Programming through which students will be given core knowledge and skills needed to work in an advanced manufacturing environment. 

Alcoa employs nearly 3,200 people at three operating locations in the state of Indiana.

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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