FOLLOW US Twitter CONTACT US FTJ Email address Phone number
 
SIX ISSUE ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION FROM JUST £230

Cool investment gives hot return

Energy saving IGBT technology is central to newly installed melt shop at a UK foundry.

Nestled in a fishing town in South Devon UK, lies one of Britain’s last remaining cupola foundries, a company with a rich heritage stretching back to 1948, supplying cast iron products up to 1500kg into the maritime, food, pump, valve and other industries.

Based in Brixham, a popular holiday destination with a thriving fishing industry, one would say that Northfield Foundry Ltd offered the local economy a welcome diversion from seasonal employment fluctuations in this pretty seaside town.

In 2017 the company was acquired by the Rotolok group, a global force in the manufacture of valves and airlocks, which had an existing business relationship with Northfield Foundry culminating in the strategic purchase of the company to guarantee supply continuity for all of its grey iron castings requirements.

PURPOSE BUILT SOLUTION

Faced with increasing coke costs and environmental pressures, the decision was made to invest in a state-of-the-art clean melting facility. During 2022 a study was completed which proposed the installation of a brand new melt shop complete with dry scrap storage bays, overhead cranage and electric induction furnaces. This new development was to be positioned at the end of the foundry in a purpose built facility, to enable this, careful consideration was made as to the economic and environmental viability. Several hurdles had to be addressed, including planning consent and electrical supply availability, which were settled in mid 2023 thus allowing the first hole to be dug.

Rotolok had a vision that with new induction furnaces, operational efficiency and product quality would improve, it was also recognised that future potential for SG and eventually steel could be accommodated, as these products were also consumed by the parent company. In addition, there was also scope for further expansion by introducing more commercially available castings elsewhere. 

As Simon Bates, technical director explains: “At the heart of this investment were the induction furnaces. We were relatively new to this technology and were looking for a partner who could help not only with the furnace itself but also with the process of bringing it all together, we found this solution with Meltech Ltd who proved very helpful indeed. It was very much a team effort.”

The equipment supplied comprised of Meltech’s latest Pulsar IGBT (Transistorized) Power-Share inverter technology coupled with two 750kg capacity Mag-Melt tilting furnaces, offering the capability of simultaneously melting on both bodies in any ratio desired. Incorporated into the system is the next generation VDC (visual digital control) which offers evolving and updateable software, functionality is enhanced with internet based remote data access and control which allows historic and real time monitoring of the melt process along with intelligent PLC connectivity. This allows the inverter to talk with the cooling system and finely tune the fans to a minimum level to save energy whilst maintaining optimum temperature within the system. Aptly, this feature has been nicknamed “Goldilocks”. 

From the initial furnace specification right through to the end, the site manager for the project was Mark Wilkinson, who has a vast experience in foundries and was the prime contact for all aspects of facility construction and timeline control. He explains: “While I was very familiar with induction melting, the concept of the IGBT system was very new to me, the touch screen and features became very intuitive and I picked it up very quickly, the machine is fast too, very fast indeed, it will certainly do more than twice our production requirements right now, I’m looking forward to increasing our range of alloys in the coming weeks.”

SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS

The building, civils, infrastructure and furnaces were put into production mid April and, at this early stage, initial results are showing significant improvements and benefits. It’s a much cleaner environment for the staff and it is encouraging that employees have taken to the new facility very well. Flexibility and energy savings are materialising too, Northfield plans on phasing out the cupola in the next few weeks leaving the company with the most recent new melt shop in the UK.

Andrew Drage sales manager at Meltech confirms: “We are very proud of our association with Northfield Foundry and Rotolok. A complete new melt shop is something that rarely happens in the UK these days, this investment proves that money carefully spent can reap dividends for those who take the plunge, we now repeatedly come across customers coming forward looking to save energy by investing in our IGBT technology.”

A QUARTER OF A CENTURY TO CELEBRATE

It is particularly fitting for Meltech to have embarked on this installation in 2024. Having supplied hundreds of machines, the company is celebrating 25 years in business this year and continues to place customer satisfaction and technological developments at the forefront of the company philosophy. 

Contact: Andrew Drage, sales manager, Meltech Ltd, 3 Hollands Road, Haverhill, Suffolk CB9 8PU UK. Tel: +44 (0)1440 710603, Mob: +44 (0)7904 297055, email: [email protected] web: www.induction-furnaces.com