A cobalt-based alloy component that brings castings to a whole new market has scooped the Component of the Year Award at the UK celebration of the best of British casting.
The revolutionary component produced by William Cook Cast Products – a valve cage for an engineered valve for the oil and gas industry – beat off strong competition at the Cast Metals Industry Awards Dinner from a lightweight stabilised antenna platform mainframe used for an international maritime RADAR application.
William Cook’s valve cage casting is an important step forward for the industry. Valve cages, which modify fluid flow within critical service engineered valves, have historically been constructed from stacked laminated plates or solid billets, each machined to achieve the necessary profile. This was a costly but necessary process because traditional casting could not achieve the level of accuracy required for the shapes. William Cook’s investment casting technical team achieved success through the combination of design and manufacturing innovations.
The production of 3D-printed PMMA patterns in-house, advanced modelling, casting simulations and alloy optimisation all came together to enable the production of this challenging 70kg cobalt-based alloy casting. Cost to the customer was reduced and lead times dramatically shortened to a matter of weeks due to the reduction in machining, finishing and jointing operations.
“It’s a casting that we are very proud of and it opens up new possibilities to the casting process, saving everyone money and time,” said Simon Alexander, managing director. “Traditionally, people have designed for manufacture, which means they have had to make compromises. Now we have unconstrained design. People can design with a high degree of freedom. The art of the possible has changed.
“It is a credit to the whole team at William Cook. To receive the UK Component of the Year accolade is the icing on the cake and recognition for the company, our staff and our customers.”
Highly Commended in the category was Finecast Foundry for its remarkable lightweight stabilised antenna platform mainframe. The four casting suite, the largest mould measuring 2.2m square, is produced in an aluminium silicon magnesium casting alloy to BS 2L 169: 2002 using gravity sand casting.
Company Achievement Award
Investment in people and plant, long-term planning and innovation and the willingness to make big changes to the company’s working practices to build for the future all enabled CastAlum to win the Company Achievement Award. With order books strong and customers wanting more, the company moved onto a full six-day/24-hour shift pattern requiring 44 new staff, new machining and foundry cells, new die technology and a greatly expanded intranet to achieve consistent information passage across shifts. Changed tooling technologies also contributed to an improved capacity usage.
These changes come as part of the company’s continued progress over the last six years and show the management’s understanding of planning for the long-term while meeting the needs of the short-term. CastAlum is now in a position to deliver almost a quadrupling of its 2009 turnover by 2018, gaining efficiency and developing the next generation of leaders as part of that plan.
Commenting on the success Peter Radcliffe, managing director, said: “We have a really strong team in every area at CastAlum and it is through them all working together that we have been able to consistently achieve so much. This is our second Cast Metals Industry Award and we are very proud of both, and the consistency that will hopefully enable us to win more.”
Two companies were Highly Commended in the Company Achievement category - Chamberlin plc for its growth and investment programme creating 33 new jobs and increasing capacity, with a new machined part now produced every 77 seconds, and Hall & Botterill Ltd for its range of production innovations, and the driving enthusiasm to push forward.
Having been Highly Commended in the Company Achievement category, aluminium diecaster Hall & Botterill Ltd went one step further by picking up the Innovation Award. From the building and commercial implementation of a unique robot fettling cell, designed and built in-house and now working on around 80 different components, to the imaginative approach to hydraulic ring cooling using water from an onsite well across all of the company’s die packs; from work to improve health and safety at every turn to simplifying and deskilling operations and developing their own products to sell, it is all in a day’s work at the company.
The robotic fettling cell, believed by the company to be the only one in the world, has significantly reduced the real time of processing a casting through all the cutting, fettling, linishing etc. elements enabling the diecaster to get the castings out the door quicker.
Laying down the gauntlet for the future, managing director, Alex Paterson, said: “We were over the moon to win the award. For us innovation is a state of mind and, as a small company, it is through our innovation that we gain advantage in the market. We’ll have some new innovations for next year’s awards as nothing stands still.”
Highly Commended in the Innovation category were Endeco Technologies for its work reducing the usage of energy in high energy use foundries such as United Cast Bar, and also Wheelabrator for its COMET HD blast wheel which redefines performance for more efficient, reliable and less wasteful surface preparation.
The Cast Metals Industry Awards are sought after recognition of the breadth and depth of metal casting technology in the UK. Organised annually by the Cast Metals Federation, they enable foundries, suppliers and guests from the UK cast metals industry to come together to celebrate the industry’s combined and individual achievements.
“Through the Cast Metals Industry Awards we can recognise the many remarkable developments that are happening throughout our industry. In the UK foundry industry we see examples of innovation, problem solving, risk taking, investment and ambition for the future day in and day out. It is important to give credit to those who lead the way and the winning and short-listed companies certainly carry that mindset,” said Pam Murrell FICME, CMF chief executive.
“Whether the company is big or small, supplying millions of castings or one offs, there is so much in the industry to celebrate.”
To appreciate the significance of such an accolade one only has to take note of what Simon Alexander, managing director of William Cook Cast Products has to say: “Winning the award is a fantastic recognition of the team here. From young worker Lewis Rooms who did a lot of the planning right through to the production team, this is a component of which we are all very proud. The award will take pride of place in our reception!”
The awards were announced and presented at the Cast Metals Industry Dinner, held at the Manor Hotel, Meriden, UK on 17th November 2016. Speaking at the event, CMF chairman Wendy Bennett of Lost Wax Development Ltd told attendees that the “year of challenges” highlighted the strength of the UK castings industry in a future post-Brexit climate. “We need to come together to meet extraordinary challenges which we will all face in the coming years. Despite political turmoil we must look at the positives we have achieved, not least the emergence of the Metals Council to highlight how the British government is listening to manufacturers. We must work with our politicians and push for better trading tariffs on energy and many other issues.”
The 2017 Cast Metals Industry Dinner will be held on Thursday 23rd November.
COMPONENT OF THE YEAR
Winner – William Cook Cast Products for a valve cage for an engineered valve for the oil and gas industry
Highly Commended – Finecast Foundry for a lightweight stabilised antenna platform mainframe used for an international maritime RADAR application
COMPANY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Winner – CastAlum for its move from five to six day working, investment in capital equipment and people, and growth in manpower and sales
Highly Commended - Chamberlin plc for its growth and investment programme creating jobs and increasing capacity
Highly Commended - Hall & Botterill Ltd for its range of production innovations and driving company enthusiasm
Winner - Hall & Botterill Ltd for its in-house development of a robotic fettling plant, hydraulics system and cooling system
Highly Commended - Endeco Technologies for its work reducing the usage of energy in high energy use foundries
Highly Commended - Wheelabrator for its COMET HD blast wheel, which redefines performance for more efficient, reliable and less wasteful surface preparation