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Big Casting? No Problem for the World’s Leading Heat Treater

The world’s largest provider of thermal processing services can now heat treat parts up to 25 tonnes in weight thanks to the installation of two new large air furnaces. The furnaces, one of which is ten metres in length, are the largest available in the UK accredited to Nadcap standards and are part of a million pound investment by Bodycote in its Stillington plant in the north east of England.

Installed to meet growing customer demand from general industrial, oil & gas and aerospace markets, the furnaces have strengthened the UK capacity of the global company which is the supplier of choice for some of the world’s leading companies. Commenting on the significant investment and what it means for Bodycote, UK sales manager for the Aerospace, Defence & Energy (ADE) division, Andrew Corless, told Foundry Trade Journal: “We serve global customers from our Stillington site and previously our maximum capability was for parts up to six tonnes in weight and six metres in length. The new furnaces mean we can meet customer expectations in terms of size, weight, quantity, capability and quality.”

Customer satisfaction is never far from Corless’ mind or that of Stillington’s account manager, Phil Anderson: “Customer service is central to the Bodycote business,” Corless said. “Heat treatment is a very technical business – we work to exacting standards and processing is controlled within tight parameters. It’s also very much about trust. Customers need to have confidence in us in terms of timescales, meeting their needs and affordability.”
Such are the size of the parts being heat treated in the new furnace that forklifts cannot be used and, as part of this latest phase of an ongoing investment programme, a crane with a hydraulic track has been installed to handle loading and unloading to avoid damage to the hearth bricks. Other work carried out at the Stillington site in recent years has seen the removal of salt baths and the introduction of environmentally-friendly fluidised beds, new vacuum capacity and the installation of a large oil quencher and water quencher.

Adding value at a critical point
Bodycote is aware of its vital link in the supply chain. It’s a responsibility it takes very seriously. “Typically, we tend to be near the end of the process chain which creates additional challenges,” Corless explains. “Often, parts can already be late when they reach us and therefore turnaround time can be critical. Also, at this point, parts have undergone other value-adding stages in the manufacturing process. As such, the care we take in handling all that value and mitigating any associated risks is also an essential part of our processing. We work in critical industries where failure is not an option and we work to a very exacting process with lots of stringent procedures.” 
The company’s understanding of the role it plays and its continued investment in technology has seen it become the world’s market leader in thermal processing with over 190 facilities operating in 26 countries. The Stillington plant is one of twelve heat treatment plants in the UK, which is also home to some of Bodycote’s surface technology and Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) facilities.

Market confidence
Despite difficult trading conditions throughout the world, the investment at Stillington was never in doubt, largely because of the relationship Bodycote has with its customers. “We are a business that listens to its customers,” says Corless. “The Stillington investment was mainly a response to customer demand for greater capacity. If our business model supports it, then focused investment – whether it’s new equipment or an entire plant – it’s something Bodycote has the capability to do.” 

Having spent years working in the industry, Corless and Anderson are confident about the future. Proactive plans are the ‘norm’ at Bodycote, says Corless: “If you’re going to be market leader you need to lead in all areas. You need to develop and improve what you do and continually strive to offer better service, to be the best. This means always doing our best to deliver when we say we will, to advise our customers so they can make informed decisions, and when something goes wrong – and sometimes things do go wrong – we do our best to fix it.” This attitude has seen the company grow year-on-year; a trend which looks set to continue. 
Anderson is particularly pleased with customers’ responses to the latest investments at his plant. “Not only is it beneficial to our business, but the capability we can offer gives our customers a competitive edge in their marketplace. Our value-adding service doesn’t stop at the parts we treat.”

Contact: Phil Anderson, account manager, Bodycote Heat Treatments Ltd, Stillington, Stockton-on-Tees TS21 1LD UK. Tel: +44 (0)1740 630353, email: phil.anderson@bodycote.com web: www.bodycote.com