Sanden Adds Compressor Production Capacity

There’s no shortage of confidence in Sanden’s SD7 compressors. The company makes roughly 650 original designs of its seven-piston wobble-plate design, and it’s a good bet that you’ll find one on the next heavy truck or piece of off-highway equipment you see.

Of late, Sanden’s big challenge is keeping up with demand, especially among specialty OEMs and the aftermarket.

“We produce close to 3 million compressors a year off three lines here in Wylie, Texas, the majority of which are for automotive and heavy-truck OEMs in North America,” says Mike Rouse, manager of product development and OEM and aftermarket sales. “When those OEMs are going at a high volume, they consume a lot of units.”

Efforts to reserve compressors for aftermarket and specialty OE customers—what Sanden calls “special markets—often fell short.

“We had to do a better job,” Mike says. So Sanden made a major investment in manufacturing capacity to help satisfy growing demand among aftermarket and specialty OE customers.

New Plant in Mexico

In April, Sanden established a new plant in Saltillo, Mexico, investing more than $60 million to support customers in North and South America. “The plant has a die-cast facility, cylinder-head machining tools—it can produce the majority of subcomponents we would ordinarily get from outside vendors and supply them to our plant in Wylie,” Mike says. “Combined with our clutch facility in Mexico, the Saltillo plant will help us ensure that we have the components we need now and in the future.” He expects the new facility to be at full capacity in early 2014.

Short Runs in Wylie

Typically, the manufacturing process in Wylie takes 45 days. That’s fine for scheduled orders, Mike says, but aftermarket customers can’t wait 45 days for a dozen compressors. At the same time, he says, it’s not feasible to shut down the line and swap out the tooling for a small run.

So Sanden has set up a production line in Wylie specifically for orders of fewer than 50 pieces. Turnaround time is one to five days. “Our SM line is fully automated and verified to Sanden quality standards, just like any other Sanden production line,” Mike says. “The difference is it’s dedicated to the shorter runs that our aftermarket and specialty OEM customers need.”

With the added manufacturing capacity, Mike says Sanden has minimized its backorder situation considerably.

“It’s no good to build the best compressor in the world but be unable to deliver it,” he says. “We’ve put a lot of things in place to correct that, including more production capacity. We’re excited for Red Dot and its distributors to see the difference.”