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UKs Cast Metals Federation Announces Annual Winners

Dec. 9, 2010
Casting of the Year, Company Achievement Award, and Supplier of the Year awarded
Grainger & Worrall earned the Cast Metals Federation’s “Casting of the Year” Award for its 8-cylinder engine block, a thin-walled design cast in compacted graphite iron for General Motors.

The Cast Metals Federation announced its annual winners in their Casting of the Year, Supplier of the Year, and Company Achievement Award were awarded in November. With over 200 members across the United Kingdom, the CMF connects foundries and supplier companies, as well as guides them towards better processes.

The CMF awarded Grainger & Worrall the Casting of the Year award for their V8-cylinder block cast in compacted graphite iron (CGI) specifically for NASCAR racing engines. The blocks, made specifically for General Motors, is a thin-walled and complex, “a combination of technical advancements”, including a ±0.75 bore concentricity. It also has the ability to withstand thermal loading on the core, which is 2.4 mm between cylinder bores.

“Built using the SinterCast process, which Grainger & Worrall has championed since 2004, the success of this casting is the culmination of investment, commitment, and development by the company in all stages of production,” said awards organizer John Parker.

Keith Denholm of Grainger & Worrall noted that the award is “an affirmation” of all the efforts put into the winning component. “At every stage of its development, it has challenged the team, from material to casting, measurement to performance, tooling to consistency. The requirements were met and resolved.”

Aluminum diecaster CastAlum earned the Company Achievement Award for its success following a management buy out in 2009. When parent company Contech filed for Chapter 11, four senior managers at the Welshpool plant bought the facility.

Although the company experienced three months of short-time working and other setbacks during the recession, CastAlum has now returned to full time working and is heading to exceeding its own 50% growth target. Before the end of 2009, the company invested in a new ≤3 million diecasting cell, a new machining shop featuring new CNC machine. This year, seven more CNC machines were added along with new quality and inspection equipment, bringing the total investment since the management buyout to around ≤10 million.

Parker alluded to the commitment of the management team and the workforce. “The whole team has brought about rapid changes, turned the business around, and achieved a 50% increase in sales turnover in the globally-competitive automotive component market — a remarkable story of commitment, drive, and a company working together for the success of an important business for the area.”

“We knew we had a great team here so when the opportunity came up to take it back into local ownership, we ‘grasped the nettle’, provided the investment the business needed to succeed, and got the whole workforce motivated and pushing forward,” said managing director at CastAlum Peter Radcliffe.

Blade Tooling was recognized as Supplier of the Year for their expansion into a one-stop supply of wax and ceramic core production. By investing in equipment, personnel, and services to enable customers’ tooling to be fully tested without leaving Blade’s plant — and supplying finished waxes — the result has been significant, leading to reduced lead times for the approval of tooling and component production.

The company’s commitment and capital investment of ≤2 million in the struggling economy impressed the judges, according to Parker. “For the cast metals industry to innovate and move forward, it requires the combined efforts and expertise of both the foundries and their suppliers to work together. This was an excellent example of a supplier seeing an opportunity and then delivering it, providing immediate benefits to the customers.”

Neil France, director at Blade Tooling, said the financial investment, as well as seeking out employees who serve as experts within the industry, has demonstrated the company’s ability to manufacture large tooling packages on multiple components for its customers. “We believe this is a unique service bringing considerable time and cost benefits for our customers.”