LAS VEGAS. Accuride Corp. chose the 2012 Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week Conference (HDAW) here this week to announce that the company expects to make additional investments of approximately $75 million in 2012 to continue to strengthen product availability, quality and reliability; upgrade its manufacturing processes; and improve customer service. Rick Dauch, president &CEO, made the announcement during a press briefing. The scheduled 2012 investments follow the $35- million investment made in 2011 to increase the firm’s aluminum-wheel production capacity.

The first phase targets new machining lines and related equipment in the wheels business and is already underway. A second phase involves improvements at Accuride’s Gunite operations.

“Accuride is committed to being a reliable and dependable supplier of steel and aluminum wheels and wheel-end components for our OE and aftermarket customers,” said Dauch. “We made solid progress in boosting our production capacity last year, and are stepping up our investments to extend and accelerate that progress throughout 2012. These investment plans further demonstrate our continuing commitment to improve product quality and ensure availability to meet growing demand by our customers and the industry. We won’t be satisfied until Accuride becomes the premier supplier of wheel-end system solutions to the global commercial vehicle industry.”

Accuride plans $20 million of aluminum wheel capacity investments in 2012 that will include facility improvements, the installation of new machining lines and equipment, as well as the transfer of equipment among Accuride’s three aluminum wheel plants in Erie, PA.; Camden, SC and Monterrey, Mexico. These actions are intended to optimize material flow, standardize wheel machining processes, and achieve greater surface-finish consistency for its aluminum-wheel product lines. They signal Accuride’s intention to “aggressively expand” its production capacity as aluminum wheel demand continues to grow in North America.

For 2012, the company will also make targeted investments in its steel wheel business, including machining, equipment, facility upgrades and engineering initiatives to further improve product and process quality, according to Dauch.

The second phase of Accuride’s capital investment program, to be announced later this quarter, targets the Gunite wheel-end business unit that produces spoke wheels, hubs, rotors, full cast brake drums and automatic slack adjusters. Investments are intended to address production issues and capacity constraints that Gunite experienced during 2011 by boosting Gunite’s capacity and throughput, and improving product quality.

Changes to the company’s executive team have come along with these facilities and processes changes, Dauch noted. Seventy percent of the former leadership team has been replaced or reassigned, he said, as part of a move to “restore operational excellence and technological leadership.”

The company’s aggressive actions to “sell, fix, or fix and grow” business units have been met with general support from executives and workers who will be a part of the business going forward, Dauch told Fleet Owner, noting that many people were just waiting for someone to come along and “make things right again.”

The aftermarket will also continue to be a focus for Accuride. The company has formed a Distribution Advisory Council for aftermarket customers to help identify opportunities for improvement and facilitate changes