Monday Morning Briefing

We mentioned previously that Poclain Hydraulics a manufacturer of hydrostatic transmissions and in house heat treater in Wisconsin, USA is planning on discontinuing carburizing at this location in favor of other technologies. This means their 3 cell ECM vacuum carburizing system will be available sometime in the future, however it will be a little way down the road as the company like many these days will be closed for the next number of weeks.

We are in the process of updating our annual list of the Largest Commercial Heat Treaters in North America and this year we will be expanding it to the 30 largest-in the process we are leaning lots of fun stuff. For instance Thermal Vac out in California, USA is doing lots of stuff and have some very ambitious projects in the works. These plans include more equipment and more location (s). For the time being we can’t say much but you can take it to the bank that the company is growing. Thermal Vac offers brazing, heat treating and finishing processes and includes amongst their customers NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Space-X which is a pretty impressive list. By the way for the first time ever our list of the largest will include a commercial heat treater who is almost exclusively Induction which is rather interesting.

A new addition to our list will be Metex Heat Treating in Canada who just might be the largest commercial heat treater on the continent when it comes to mesh belt furnace capacity. If there is another one larger we are not aware of it. We also learned that one of the heat treaters on our list of the largest also has the  largest oil quenching vertical vacuum furnace in the world. This monster has 65’ of continuous vacuum chamber from the bottom of the 10,000 gallon quench tank to the top of the furnace. The company? Family owned Rex Heat Treat in PA, USA.

While we are on the topic of the largest vertical vacuum oil quenching furnace in North America we had always thought of Vac Aero owning this title. A few years back the company built a giant with working dimensions of roughly 30’ high (the photo below shows the furnace under construction, to give you an idea about perspective the President of the company Mr. Scott Rush is well over 6’ tall). So if anybody ever asks you where the largest vertical, oil quenching vacuum furnace is you now have the answer.

It’s a changed world and currently not as much fun as it used to be but companies are still buying and installing new furnaces so all is not lost. For instance Rubig in Austria is saying that their rep in the USA, Mr. John Young just landed an order for a new Rubig Plasma Nitrder and that this was the quickest order the company has landed in North America. We will be interested in hearing more details. Unitherm Furnace recently commissioned a large 40ft car bottom furnace for a MidWest forging company. Unitherm, based in Missouri, USA is part of a very small, select group by the way in that they build furnaces and also do commercial heat treating through another division, Missouri, Heat Treat. We can only think of approximately 6 companies in North America which do both.

SECO/WARWICK is another company which has also been busy installing equipment. Recently the company installed 2 systems in the US including this large unit designed for FNC using Endothermic gas as the carbon source.

COVID-19 Update. From furnace builder Rohde in Hanau, Germany we have this report about how they are coping with the current situation. Interesting that they like many German companies insist on only using German suppliers. Also interesting how they are coping with sales engineers and accommodations.

“The Coronavirus is affecting life and the economy worldwide. We see how many companies depend upon delivery of parts and supplies from other countries and especially from China. Production has stopped in many factories, because the supply chain has been interrupted.  At Rohde Schutzgasoefen we have a huge advantage which is due to our company philosophy

“made in Germany“. As we only order our material and parts from German suppliers, if possible even from local suppliers, we still get all the needed material to continue to build our furnaces and salt recovery units which allows us to cope with our delivery times. The spare parts for our furnaces are available locally, or can be produced locally and can be shipped to our customers worldwide. And as the production and assembly takes place exclusively in Hanau, we haven’t experienced a huge impact from the Coronavirus.   

The control systems of our furnaces are open which allows the customers full control even without the manufacturer. They can also be configured with parts that the customer can get locally, so that there is no dependency. Of course our service is always available if the customers want it. With remote maintenance we can offer full support if our customers can‘t solve the problem on their own or need an adaption of their processes. In Germany all hotels are closed at the moment, in case a customer wants a maintenance or a repair, we offer to send our service engineers with a camper van. This allows us to offer even service interventions for companies that are located far away.“ Natasha Rohde