Forgemasters re-enters US mills market with monster component

Posted on 31 Oct 2012

Sheffield Forgemasters has secured re-entry into a dormant market and has beaten competition from Asia, by finishing the manufacture of a huge component for a US company.

Completion of the multi-million pound contract re-establishes Forgemasters in the United States metal rolling mills sector, from which it has been absent for several years.

The order for three mill housing castings weighing between 150 and 300 tonnes for ATI Allegheny Ludlum’s advanced hot-rolling and processing facility in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania, was awarded by Siemens VAI based on the extremely high quality of Forgemasters castings.

It is believed that Asian companies competing for the contract could not compete on quality.

Michael Holloway, senior sales manager at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “The Allegheny Ludlum rough mill stand is one of the largest of its kind using mono-block mill housings and required finish machining to extremely high tolerances. Servicing such contracts is precisely why we installed our £12 million North Machine Shop.

He added, “The facility to cast such large components and then to undertake the machine finishing of them in this way exists in very few engineering facilities globally and it is a key selling point for Forgemasters as it reduces the need to outsource the work,.”

The structural integrity of the ultra-large castings is critical as the rolling forces applied during the mill’s operation will be among the highest ever to be applied in a hot-strip mill.

The ATI Allegheny Ludlum mill components include two 13.5 metre tall x 5.2m wide roughing mill housings at 300-tonnes each and one smaller edger housing casting at 160-tonnes.

Low loader hauls out a massive 300-tonne component from DavyMarkham destined for a US steel mill

Local heavy engineering firm DavyMarkham supported Forgemasters by further finish machining the castings, fitting them with additional components, trialling a full assembly and painting them before dispatch to Brackenridge in the US where they will form the main body of a vast reversing roughing mill.

Mr Holloway stressed that securing a foothold in the US rolling mills market is a key strategic objective for Forgemasters. The company used to supply to this market but fell out of favour as certain these mills demands changed.

“However, changes in technology and Forgemasters’ development of castings and ultra-large castings, through a dedicated research and development programme, enabled us to produce components which far exceed the quality offered by competitors.

“This job was secured on the back of a previous contract, to supply smaller 67-tonne rolling mill castings to Siemens VAI, for the AHMSA steel mill in Mexico and the quality and level of finish for those castings set a new standard which impressed the client.”

Forgemasters has invested heavily in research and development since a 2005 management buyout.

The company has supplied some of the largest single steel castings in the world and has the capacity to pour up to 600 tonnes of molten steel in a continuous pour.