Sheffield Forgemasters makes £2m equipment upgrade

One of the UK’s leading steel casting, forgings and engineering specialists, Sheffield Forgemasters International, has announced a £2m investment into its melting facility to make refined steel with reduced energy consumption.

The Electric Arc Furnace rebuild team in front of the newly commissioned primary steel melting furnace – image courtesy of Sheffield Forgemasters.
The Electric Arc Furnace rebuild team in front of the newly commissioned primary steel melting furnace – image courtesy of Sheffield Forgemasters.

Forgemasters’ inward investment is part of the company’s turnaround plan and drive towards operational efficiency improvements, and follows its announcement of a new intake of 14 apprentices for 2017 across all of its business divisions.

Despite harsh trading conditions and continuing uncertainty regarding Brexit, management at the company voted to strip out almost 80% of the primary electric arc furnace to replace the furnace gantry, electrode columns and current carrying arms, cabling, automation and control systems, hydraulics and water cooling with upgraded equipment to achieve 15% efficiency improvement.

Operations director, Gareth Barker explained: “The investment and subsequent project to overhaul and upgrade the primary electric arc furnace is one of the largest infrastructure projects we’ve undertaken at the Brightside Lane site for a number of years.”

Barker added: “Logistically and physically, this has been an enormous undertaking and we have removed over 150 tonnes of steel, mechanical components, hydraulics, refractory material and cabling in order to re-fit the furnace up to a much higher specification.

“The previous configuration served us well over the years and has been continually upgraded and maintained, but to make a more effective melting plant, we knew that it would require radical reconfiguration. With the exception of the main hearth and staging, we have essentially built a new furnace which will operate much faster, with less energy consumption and will be capable of producing even cleaner steels.

“In order for Sheffield Forgemasters to compete in an increasingly competitive and fluctuating global market, the one thing we need to achieve in partnership with our technical excellence is the ability to make efficiencies across the board.”

This is the first of a series of inward investments the company is making, according to Baker, with Forgemasters expected to release details of future initiatives in due course.

Sheffield Forgemasters produces some of the largest bespoke engineered products in the world with capacity for castings of up to 350 tonnes and forgings of up to 170 tonnes finished weight.

The supplier of castings to the offshore sector has designed and manufactured more than 50,000 tonnes of components, and operated in this market for more than 25 years.

A key supplier of bespoke components to the UK and US defence industries, civil nuclear power, power generation, offshore oil & gas and materials processing markets, Forgemasters exports more than 60% of its products.