• £1.5m investment in two new melting towers brings significant efficiency benefits, capacity growth and energy reduction
  • Fully traceable semi-automated process enables optimisation of trusted manufacturing process
  • Expanding Grainger & Worrall facilities further streamlines in-house transition from prototyping to series production

As part of the total £6m investment plan for expansion of its Bridgnorth Series facility, automotive casting specialist Grainger & Worrall has installed two new, partially automated melting towers at a cost of £1.5m. The investment provides a significant increase in efficiency, and reduction in process time and energy consumption. Further enhancing the company’s capability and capacity, the melters can now process 2 tonnes of dual alloy ingot types per hour simultaneously, up from 800kg. As well as offering distinct health and safety benefits for operators, the semi-automated process is fully traceable, providing precise control of timings and temperature to help optimise the melting process.

“Installation of the two melting towers, which was a huge undertaking that required the facility’s roof to be raised by 2m, negates the downsides traditionally associated with batch processes: the peaks and troughs of process flow and the requirement to sustain furnace heat even when not in use, leading to production inefficiencies and a high level of waste energy,” says Andrew Hough, Grainger & Worrall facilities director. “Melting tower design enables the pre-heating of the next batch of alloy ingots using the waste heat from the furnace below. Ingots can be pre-heated to 400oC, providing a vital process head start before melting occurs at 750 oC at furnace level. Two different types of alloy ingots can be utilised, which is a key benefit for the current automotive industry, where different alloys are frequently used depending on final application: engine block or head, for example. The running of two melters enables us to offer increased production flexibility, which provides a further time advantage for our vehicle manufacturer customers.”

Alongside identification of an opportunity to refine a proven process, an increased demand for Grainger & Worrall’s casting expertise has been one of the main inspirations behind the latest expansion. The company is able to carry out prototyping using the Make Like Production concept, which then makes the transition to series production more straightforward and cost-efficient, and less time-consuming. Make Like Production is a technique for producing early-stage development parts that behave as a production component would – enabling extensive vehicle testing and validation even if final production materials and processes differ. This can bring vital cost and time savings to vehicle manufacturers seeking to bring entirely new models to market.

The semi-automated melting process gives Grainger & Worrall enhanced control over key stages. For example, the process of flowing the alloy into the ladle before being poured into a mould is now carried out automatically, as opposed to by hand. Precise temperature readings can be analysed to determine optimal timings throughout the process, helping to deliver a consistent, more repeatable cast in a reduced timeframe while also removing the risk of manual operators working in the hot zone.

“We are sympathetic to vehicle manufacturers working within an increasingly disrupted industry, where technology is expected to work more efficiently, be developed in a narrower timeframe and, of course, cost less,” explains Matthew Grainger, Grainger & Worrall director. “Our continued investment in expanding Grainger & Worrall facilities is designed to address this concern, enabling a contraction in the time to market of new products. For example, the trend of engine downsizing is putting pressure on the physical metallurgy of components: smaller internal combustion engines are expected to work harder under increased pressure. We are proud to make this latest investment knowing that processes can not only be made more efficient, but that manufacturing benefits, such as precise control of casting and a higher quality component, can be passed on to the automotive industry.”

The two new melting towers are the latest investment made by Grainger & Worrall. The company has recently increased its throughput capacity by 50% with the addition of a third CT scanner. This helps ensure that large castings meet the stringent quality assurance and control demanded by the automotive industry at a time when demand for its castings continues to grow across broader automotive applications. Full details of Grainger & Worrall’s recent investment can be found here at this link.

About Grainger & Worrall

Grainger & Worrall is at the global forefront of castings development and innovation, with close to 75 years of experience in the sector. Based in Bridgnorth at purpose-built facilities, the company works closely with original equipment manufacturers to develop lightweight yet strong components for the automotive, marine, heavy-duty and off-road sectors. Additionally, it is playing a significant role in improving the performance and efficiency of race cars in a number of the world’s top motorsport series.

Grainger & Worrall’s services encompass up-front engineering, precision machining and consultancy which is backed by real science, right from the very early stages of the supply and development chain. By making its own tooling and embracing cutting edge rapid prototyping technologies, Grainger & Worrall can take a customer’s component concept through development and verification to production with remarkably short lead and response times.

For further information, contact:

Market Engineering Limited

Nevil Hall, Account Director

Bicester Heritage,

Building 123,

Buckingham Road,

Bicester OX27 8AL.

+44 1295 277050

+44 7711 861662