The Alune Foundry does not want to lose its nook, the prototype workshop

The Aluminum Foundry is due to close at the end of June Ingrandes. But, in the factory, an unknown strategic sector with recognized know-how could survive it: the prototype workshop.

We know it. La Fonderie Alu (300 jobs), just like its twin cast-iron neighbor a year ago, is, unless there is a twist, condemns the closure (1). What is less known is that the historical manufacturer of cylinder heads houses a strategic sector with recognized know-how: the prototype workshop.

It tests, casts, creates and manufactures various aluminum parts in small and medium series for automotive and aeronautical customers. Pieces whose structure, design and resistance capacity are validated.

We made parts
for Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin…

Created in the early 2000s under the Teksid era (2), the prototype workshop mainly produces cylinder heads for Renault, but it was in 2014 with the arrival of its manager, Jean-Marie Bernaille, from the Le Blier foundry in Gironde, that this sector of the company really develops and acquires a reputation for industrial know-how and unequaled quality.
Example with Valo, says Jean-Philippe Juin, of the CGT, who, at the time, had us build electric (« Hoosing ») turbos for cars. The prototype was made by us. It was then to be manufactured in China but they [les Chinois] never succeeded in having it manufactured, so much so that production was repatriated here with series of 3,000 pieces.
Jean-Marie Bernaille then developed the prototype workshop – renamed the PMS workshop (small and medium series) – thanks to his address book, the investment in manufacturing tools and the diversification of the activity (connecting parts to the floor, electric motor, frame for electric bike, etc.).
In a few years, the head of the workshop and his dozen or so versatile employees revealed their skills over the course of the prototype manufacturing stages: core making, sand casting, casting in the melting furnaces, shake-out, sawing, trimming, finishing, heat treatment, controls…
Customers are not mistaken and orders are pouring in. Including for prestigious brands. We have made parts for Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin, Garrett, Renault Sport (Alpine), Liebherr (aeronautics), Midual (luxury motorcycles made in France)…, great Jean-Marie Bernaille. We go from the single piece to 200 pieces in general. We are on a niche, with an artisanal aspect, skills, meticulousness. This workshop is a factory within a factory, a small foundry within a large one.

A small foundry
in the great foundry

The aura of this small PMS workshop of the Aluminum Foundry is enough to promote itself. We had and developed this business without canvassing. It’s just word of mouth, know-how and customer feedback. Yoann Ricateau, technical sales representative, joined us a year and a half ago but it was in the midst of the Covid crisis and then the receivership, so he was unable to fully develop in his mission.
Since 2014, the prototype workshop has cast approximately 50,000 parts in aluminum for its customers. A know-how that the Chtelleraudais basin risks losing with the planned closure of the Aluminum Foundry site. less than…

(1) The Alu Foundry (300 employees) will be determined on its future at the beginning of July after the hearing of the Paris Commercial Court, which must rule on a probable judicial liquidation.
(2) In 1998, Renault sold the business to the Italian group Teksid and, in 2001, the foundries were split into two (cast iron and aluminium).

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