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Forgemasters Vulcan spreading its wings

12 May 2011

A test house originally set up to support Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd (SFIL) internal work is now attracting more external customers than ever.

The Vulcan SFM test house was established in January 2007, with a specialist team led by test house manager Ian Hunter, to service the testing requirements of the forge and the foundry at SFIL.

But in the last six months, a third of the test house’s work has been from outside SFIL with external customer spend increasing from around £3,000 per month in 2009 to £14,000 in January 2011. The growth in the percentage of external contracts has grown steadily month by month.

Ian said: “We have been concentrating on our internal work to provide a good level of consistent service and this has then led to our external workload growing steadily because of our reputation for a quick and competent testing service.”

The Vulcan SFM test house is a modern and comprehensive facility where specific tests are carried out using state-of-the-art machinery for tensile, impact and hardness testing.

It sits within the highly successful SFIL subsidiary company Vulcan SFM which offers bespoke design and manufacture of castings and forgings primarily for the offshore oil and gas sector.

The layout and scope of sample preparation and testing now includes - a large bed vertical saw, a series of band saws for blocks and cut down material up to 450mm thick, new Charpy milling machines that allow for multiple highly accurate sample preparation.

There is also a laboratory and viewing equipment for macro and microstructure investigation and photography in the test house.

The test house received its UKAS accreditation in March 2009 and the computer systems and certification software was updated in 2010.

Ian said as the external workload expands the testing scope is under constant review with work planned to include both drop weight and hot tensile testing.

As a result of the added workload and UKAS quality requirements, the seven strong team has taken on additional responsibilities with Eric Wilson taking responsibility for technical and quality issues as well as continuing with the testing, Oliver Hutchinson taking on a more supervising role and Scott Mappin increasing his role as he approaches the last year of apprenticeship.

Ian added: “With these changes in place we are hopeful that the test house will continue to expand its testing capability and attract further external customers.”