(COMPLETE LIST) “15 Largest Captive Heat Treats-North America”

This week we are proud to present the 2024 list of the “15 Largest Captive Heat Treats-North America” as compiled by “The Monty Heat Treat News“. We will have the final 5 largest this Thursday.
In 2022 “The Monty Heat Treat News” published a heat treatment industry exclusive, a list of the “10 Largest Single Location Captive Heat Treats” in North America. Since that time changes have occurred and in 2023 we published our list of the “11 Largest Single Location Captive Heat Treats in North America” We are now pleased to offer our 2024 list which has expanded to the “15 Largest Single Location Captive Heat Treats in North America”.
  • Our criteria is simple in that this list only includes single locations and not total heat treating capacity in North America. As an example the ZF Transmission facility in South Carolina makes this list but overall this plant is only a small percentage of the heat treating capacity ZF has in North America.
  • Our estimates are based upon a combination of number of furnaces and throughput. For instance vacuum carburizing cells have a much small throughput than a large pusher furnace-we have tried to take this into account.
  • It is interesting that out of this list of 15, eleven are in the USA, three in Mexico and one in Canada
  • While we do not for a second claim this list is 100% accurate we do claim that it is the most complete list which we have ever come across.
  • As always we appreciate the input we received from each company on this list and we look forward to your thoughts and comments.
Number 15-Borg Warner, Ithica, New York. Auto parts supplier Borg Warner operates a facility in Upstate New York which has a “campus” type feel to it because of its sprawling nature and beautiful landscaping. The heat treatment department is impressive by any standards and consists of a wide variety of different styles of furnaces including batch and continuous.
Number 14-GE Gas Turbine, Greenville, South Carolina. GE makes our list of the 15 largest single location captives for the first time this year. This very substantial facility provides gas turbines and has a very substantial heat treat/brazing department consisting of 16 horizontal vacuum furnaces. Interestingly enough because of the “cell” manufacturing concept the furnaces are not in a central heat treat department, rather spread throughout the sprawling facility.
Number 13 Amsted Rail – BRENCO Bearings, Petersburg, Virginia. A newcomer to our list of the 10 largest single location captive heat treaters is a bearing company, BRENCO Bearings a division of Amstead Rail, located in Petersburg, Virginia. Amsted Rail’s Brenco® Bearings was founded in 1949 to manufacture bronze journal bearings for railroad freight cars. In 1959, Brenco received conditional AAR approval for the product it is known for today throughout the worldwide railroad industry,the tapered roller bearing-in short the company makes bearings for the railroad industry. The company has locations around the world, at least two of which have in house heat treatment departments. While the heat treatment department in Petersburg is not as large as it once one it still includes multiple pit carburizing furnaces and rotary hearth units.
Number 12 Dana Corp., Queretaro, Mexico. Number 9 on our list is yet another large auto parts maker, Dana Corporation, Queretaro, Mexico. While Dana has numerous facilities around the globe that include heat treating the largest is an enormous complex in the Mexican city of Queretaro with several large, separate in house heat treating departments. There are 3 separate facilities here, Dana Forja which has a heat treating department doing annealing in continuous furnaces, Dana Cardanes which has 7 batch IQ furnaces, roughly 40 induction lines and 11 tempers and Dana, ENCO which has 2 AFC-Holcroft UBQ furnaces along with 4 pusher furnaces (as of 2020).
Number 11 Stellantis, Kokomo, Indiana. In 1956 Chrysler invested in a transmission facility in Kokomo, Indiana, a facility which now covers 3.1 million square feet (please note that there are several facilities in Kokomo, our interest is in the transmission facility). For many years now this plant which originally was called Chrysler, and subsequently FCA Kokomo before being renamed Stellantis had what was probably the largest captive heat treat in North America. At one time it included 7-Three row Holcroft Pusher Furnaces, 6-Lindberg 36 X 72 X 36 Batch IQ furnaces, 3-Holcroft single row pushers, 2- Surface rotary furnaces, 2-Seco Rotary Furnaces, 4-ECM vacuum nitriding furnaces, 30-tempering furnaces and several ECM vacuum carburizing systems. While the heat treat department is smaller than it once was it is still one of the larger in house heat treat departments in North America.
Number 10 American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings (AAM), Silao, Mexico. In 2012 auto parts supplier American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) formally opened a new location in the city of Silao, Guanajuato, Mexico. The Silao facility was AAM’s second manufacturing facility in Mexico, joining the Guanajuato Manufacturing Complex. The opening of these facilities marked a real change in the firms philosophy as previous to this most manufacturing was in the USA including a large facility in Buffalo, New York which featured 5 single row pusher lines. Each AAM facility (including Poland) has a varied mix of heat treating equipment which includes pusher furnaces, batch IQ’s and Induction to name a few. Each of the AAM heat treating departments is very impressive, mainly because they are relatively new and obviously no expense was spared. AAAM globally can be considered one of the larger captive heat treaters in existence.
Number 9 ZF Transmission, Grey Court, South Carolina. ZF is a German company which ranks amongst the largest suppliers of automotive transmission components in the world. The location in Grey Court, SC opened in 2012 and became a hub for ZF’s work in large-scale transmission production, including eight- and nine-speed automatic transmissions. ZF is another company which made the decision to go with vacuum carburizing and the end result is that this facility has two ALD “Modultherm” systems in place with a total of 16 carburizing cells and 2 Pusher lines for annealing supplied by Ipsen.
Number 8 John Deere Waterloo, Iowa. As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of agricultural machinery, heavy equipment, forestry machinery, diesel engines, drivetrains used in heavy equipment, and lawn care equipment we are sure the company needs no introduction. Their location in Waterloo, Iowa is substantial with a total of 31 furnaces (we will qualify this statement slightly by saying that 10 of these furnaces are dual chamber which we are counting as two furnaces each). The equipment comes from a variety of furnace suppliers including Surface Combustion as can be seen in this photo.
Number 7 Dana Toluca, Mexico. The Dana facility in Toluca, Mexico is one of three Dana facilities in North America which makes our list. This plant produces transmission components and has one of the largest batch IQ installations in North America. This facility is approximately 16 years old and has a total of 24 batch IQ furnaces, each with working dimensions of 36″ X 48″ X 36″-this makes them the third largest in North America in terms of number of IQ’s, behind Allison Transmission in Indianpolis and auto parts supplier Linamar. All of the furnaces rely on an endothermic atmosphere with some of the furnaces incorporating press quenching. For a number of reasons Toluca has always gone the route of batch furnaces as opposed to continuous, most probably because of tighter control and more flexibility. It is no surprise that the plant has CQI-9 certification which the company takes very seriously, currently they are in the midst of updating all of their furnace control and datalogging systems.
Number 6 Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma is one of the largest US Air Force bases in the USA-to give you a perspective on the size with, 9,000 employees it is the largest single location employer in the state. This site at last count had 27 vacuum furnaces in various configurations which includes horizontal, bottom loading and oil quenching.
Number 5 Linamar, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. In our fifth position we find a Canadian company, auto parts supplier Linamar. Linamar is a global company with many locations around the world doing heat treating however their largest heat treat department is in Guelph, Ontario. Roughly 25 years ago the firm made the decision to bring heat treating in house while at the same time deciding that going forward they would concentrate on batch processing as opposed to continuous. This plant now has twenty five 36” X 48” X 36” batch IQ furnaces in place combined with five vacuum nitriders and a rotary hearth furnace.
Number 4 Allison Transmission, Speedway, Indiana. In our third position we find the Allison Transmission Campus in Speedway, Indiana. This facility is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Their very extensive in house heat treating department boasts the largest number of 36” X 48” X 36” batch IQ furnaces under one roof in North America-26 to be exact, just ahead of auto parts supplier Linamar in Guelph, Ontario, Canada who has 25 furnaces of the same size. In total the heat treat department at Allison includes this equipment;

· (26) IQ Furnaces -36”x48”x36”

· (36) Temper Furnaces

· (6) Pit Nitride Furnaces

· (2) Rotary Furnaces

· (12) Induction hardeners

Number 3 Dana Fairfield Manufacturing, Lafayette, Indiana. Our 2023 list prompted a number of large manufacturers with substantial heat treatment departments to reach out to “The Monty” to see how they ranked on our list-one that reached out was Dana Fairfield Manufacturing in Lafayette, Indiana, USA https://www.fairfieldmfg.com/fairfield-experience-for-gears-and-drive-systems/ a supplier of custom gears and drive systems.

The heat treat department of this facility covers over 65,000 square feet (6,000 square meters) and in it we find 9 pusher lines, 2 nitriding systems, 2 large annealers, several pit carburizing systems, multiple batch IQ lines and a very substantial induction hardening footprint. Incidentally while this is a very impressive heat treat facility it represents only a fraction of the over 700 heat treating systems which Dana operates around the globe.

Number 2 GKN Driveline, Newton, North Carolina. In our second position we find another automotive parts supplier, GKN in Newton, NC. While not one of the first to invest in vacuum carburizing systems they certainly jumped on the bandwagon after vacuum carburizing proved it’s value. The company now has 39 LPC cells provided by ECM with 20 bar nitrogen quenching.

Number 1 Ford Motor Company Sharonville Transmission Facility. We are quite comfortable in suggesting that the Ford Sharonville, Ohio Transmission facility is the single largest captive heat treat facility in North America. Ford was one of the first automotive companies to embrace vacuum carburizing and the end result is that this plant now has 64 ECM LPC cells with 20 bar nitrogen gas quench systems.

It is worth noting that this facility has almost 2.5 million cubic feet under roof with almost 2,000 employees; “The Ford Motor Company Sharonville Transmission plant is a transmission manufacturing facility located in Sharonville, Ohio, United States. Established in 1958, Sharonville has long been the backup site for overflowing work at the Ford Motor Company Livonia Transmission plant. It is also where the Ford Crown Victoria’s transmission was once assembled for over three decades. With the Crown Victoria now discontinued, the Sharonville transmission plant currently overseas production of the 64140 6-speed automatic transmission – also known as the Torqshift – destined for the Ford Super Duty line of heavy duty trucks. Sharonville is where the Ford/GM 10R80 10-speed transmission is assembled. The facility also manufacturers individual gears for the 6R80, 6R140, 6F35, 6F50/55, 8F57 transmissions. These gears are then shipped to other Ford manufacturing plants like the Ford Motor Company Van Dyke Transmission plant and the Ford Motor Company Livonia Transmission plant

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