By Rhoda Miel, Plastics News
Stockholm -- Auto supplier Autoliv Inc. will rebuild a steering wheel plant destroyed by fire in Tunisia within the year, even as it shifts production temporarily to France to continue deliveries on schedule.
The company recovered more than 100 moulds from the rubble of the fire, which began during the Christmas holiday shutdown in El Nadhour, Autoliv executives said in a 4 Jan news release. The Swedish auto safety specialist said welding work on the building sparked the blaze.
The El Nadhour plant makes steering wheels for 25 different European-made vehicles and accounts for 12 percent of all steering wheels for the European auto industry. Its production includes plastic moulding and foam manufacturing.
Stockholm-based Autoliv said all the equipment was destroyed but employees extracted nearly all the vital moulds, and have shipped them to a sister plant in Poitiers, France. That site had both machines and workers who could get the tools back on line by 4 Jan.
The company has ordered new equipment to boost production at other Autoliv sites, brought some idled machines back on line and added hours at other facilities where necessary.
About 30 employees from Tunisia are working in France temporarily, Autoliv said. Another 700 employees responsible for sewing leather-wrapped steering wheels are continuing production at a rented facility in Tunisia.