Lighting the Way

Lighting the Way

Aluminum foundry picks up the torch for the 2012 Olympics relay effort

Alucast Ltd. managing director Tony Sartorius holds high one of the ceremonial torches his firm helped to manufacture for the relay of the Olympic flame in advance of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, opening in London in late June. Looking on is Premier Group managing director Gez Halton, whose sheet metal fabricating company has the turnkey contract to produce and deliver the torches.

This is an Olympic year, of course, and the approach of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London is proving another opportunity for an English foundry to demonstrate its manufacturing expertise – and to contribute again to the national heritage. Alucast Ltd. is a nonferrous foundry in Wednesbury, in a region rich with industrial accomplishments, not all of it confined to the Steam Age past: we learned last year of Alucast’s role in the successful revival of Britain’s iconic Norton Motorcycle Co.

Alucast is a jobbing foundry with expertise in casting various aluminum alloys for OEMs. Founded more than 40 years ago, it is today an operating unit of the MAN Group, which includes a range of manufacturing services covering mechanical, electrical, and electronic engineering activities.

The foundry’s operations include gravity casting; sand casting with green sand and air-set molding lines; and a series of fully automated high-pressure diecasting machines. All of Alucast’s products are manufactured within an approved, BS EN ISO-approved quality program, and the foundry also maintains preferred supplier status with many of its customers. Recently, Alucast established a new machning operation, which has gained it several new customers.

Because of its technical expertise Alucast was tapped by another local manufacturer, sheet metal fabricator Premier Group, to produce the top and bottom caps for the ceremonial torches to be carried by couriers throughout the United Kingdom. Beginning in mid May, more than 8,000 torchbearers will carry the flame across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, and the Orkneys, right up to the Games’ Opening Ceremony in London on July 27.

The 800-mm high torch was designed by two Englishmen, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, with 8,000 perforated circles to represent each runner in the relay. Premier Group earned a turnkey engineering and manufacturing contract, and set up a supply chain to produce the torches on time (and on budget) according to the design and quality standards set by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG.) Alucast was recommended to the Premier Group, and reportedly was impressed with the foundry’s enthusiasm for the project, its flexibility in supplying prototypes for testing, and its engineering record.

“The parts supplied by Alucast are two of the most important components of the torch and we needed to work with a company that understood the design and could deliver the parts to the required finish and, importantly, on time,” noted Gez Halton, manufacturing director at the Premier Group.

Alucast will develop the tooling, gravity pour the castings, and machine and polish the aluminum components that hold together the inner and outer sheaths of the torches. Several Alucast employees are involved in the contract, from design and technical staff, to melt shop and pouring technicians, as well as quality control experts.

A number of prototypes have been supplied already, and full production is underway.

“This is fantastic news for everyone involved in our business and underlines our ability to work on complex and demanding projects that require flexibility, world class quality and technical expertise,” stated Alucast managing director Tony Sartorius. “It also shows the manufacturing capabilities we have in the West Midlands, and is a great example of the positive impact the Olympics can have on all areas of the U.K.”

“After the first meeting, we knew we had found the right partner and the fact they are based locally helps with project management and in ensuring the London 2012 Olympic Torch is a truly Great British product,” according to Premier Group’s Halton.

TAGS: Melt/Pour
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