Turning on the Heat at MFCS Saegertown

May 15, 2013 07:01 AM
Heat Treater Fired Up at SMC

The following article appeared in the April issue of the MacLean-Fogg Company Employee newsletter.

Taking on a challenge to install a new heat treat furnace can be a demanding project for any experienced heat-treater, much less a plant that has never had an in-house heat treat furnace before. But all the monumental hurdles that may make a company reconsider such a venture were considered minor stepping stones to the team at MacLean-Fogg Component Solutions Saegertown.

The ultimate goal was to improve material flow and reduce processing cost by bringing heat treat in-house. Prior to installing this heat treat equipment, parts requiring heat treatment were shipped from Saegertown to Michigan for processing. The one-week manufacturing lead-time along with the incurred freight expenses clearly supported the effort to bring heat treat in-house. The realized effects of the project were reductions in inventory and freight costs and improvement gains in productivity, scheduling and delivery.

Saegertown’s journey initiated late 2010 when the concept for in-house heat-treat began to materialize. The preliminary phase involved gathering data for projected volumes, exploring various heat-treat systems, researching detailed environmental regulations, investigating various shot blasting equipment, identifying potential furnace locations, etc. By mid-2011 the feasibility study was complete, and the process to install an Integral Quench (IQ) batch furnace line with capabilities for quench & temper, stress relief anneal and normalizing was under way. The project goal was to have the furnace operational in April 2012.

With some creative planning, the team relocated all existing steel inventory to create floor space for the new furnace equipment. The surface was cleaned for chalking of the footprint, and in November 2011 the jack hammer was fired up. By mid-December the base and the walls of the pit had been poured and the rails were installed.

Concurrent to the physical transformation of the floor, many other activities took place. Activities such as utilities installation (water tower, natural gas, electric, nitrogen, air, water, and ventilation), quench oil and alloy baskets/liners procurement, fire suppression installation, personnel training and many other activities.

By the end of January 2012, the vaporizers and regulations packets had been installed on the nitrogen pad, test parts were shipped to the shot blast OEM, and the floor plan for handling parts at the shot blaster was designed. The only thing needed was the heat treat furnace equipment itself. And that arrived on February 20th on four trucks.

To say it took some effort to install the heat treat furnace is an understatement. Moving and positioning the massive equipment was a two-day process that required significant coordination on everyones part to move inventory and equipment while minimizing disruptions to production. Connecting the utilities, debugging the equipment, drying out and seasoning the furnace, and training new associates took an additional six weeks.

On April 4, 2012, everyone at Saegertown took a deep breath. It was time to turn on the heat and run the first test batch through the furnace. Because of all the planning, research and collaboration that was completed upfront, the first batch was processed without any issue. Only minor adjustments to the recipes were required to optimize the various heat treat processes. Since April 2012, Saegertown has been successful in obtaining PPAP/customer approval for all product lines.

During the past year that the furnace has been active, Saegertown has been successful in meeting its goals of improving flow, reducing processing, inventory, and freight costs and improving productivity, scheduling and delivery. Saegertown now has the capability to cold-form, machine and heat treat all under one roof…in turn fulfilling the ultimate goal of providing additional value to our customers.



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