Metaldyne Performance Group has a $30.6-million capital-investment program in progress at Metaldyne SinterForged Products LLC, in North Vernon, IN, where it produces connecting rods for automotive gas and diesel engine programs.

“Our North Vernon manufacturing operations has been a strong performing plant for MPG and its customers for many years,” stated Doug Grimm, president and chief operating officer at MPG. “We are excited about this new expansion, and we appreciate the support from the state of Indiana.”

The three-year project will add 126 new positions by 2019, MPG indicated. Presently, the workforce there numbers about 200. The company’s announcement indicated it would begin hiring CNC machine operators and engineers for the powder-forging operation early next year.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered conditional tax credits and training grants indexed to the company’s progress in meeting new job targets. Local tax agencies also offered incentives to support the project.

Construction was scheduled to begin early this month. The current, 130,000-sq.ft. plant will be connected by new construction to an adjacent, 32,400-sq.ft building, that MPG will lease.

MPG did not detail the types or volumes of the production processes to be increased by the expansion project.

MPG claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of powder-forged connecting rods. Powder forging is a sintering process in which loose alloy material (powder metal) is placed in a mold and compressed, or densified by mechanical force, then quickly charged with an electromagnetic pulse. It’s a high-speed, high-volume operation well suited to small, engineered parts.

Metaldyne Performance Group is the object in an ongoing, $1.6-billion takeover effort by American Axle & Manufacturing, due to be completed in the first half of 2017.

MPG was formed in 2014 by a private-equity group, American Securities LLC, which established a single holding company for two forging organizations (Metaldyne, HHI) it owned and a large foundry group (Grede Foundries) it acquired at that time. All three constituent companies had been formed by consolidating a wide portfolio of operations (Blackhawk Foundry, Citation, Cloyes, NovoCast, Jernberg.) over the preceding decade. In September, it rebranded the entire enterprise under the MPG label.