Monday Morning Briefing

We see that Jim Montemagno became President of alloy supplier Alcon Industries of Cleveland, Ohio, USA a few months back. Jim has been with Alcon for as long as we can remember and certainly knows his stuff. If you recall we mentioned not that long ago how the founder of the company and President, Mr. Dick Chalet very unfortunately passed away at a relatively young age. Alcon is one of the largest suppliers of cast and fabricated high temperature alloy components in North America. Speaking of Alcon we also see that Mr. Stacey Harley who was with Alcon for a number of years just joined one of their competitors, Wirco of Avilla, Indiana. Proving yet again the people do not leave this industry we will mention that before Alcon, Stacey was with North American Cronite another alloy supplier whose ad can be found on this page. While we are talking about alloy Nickel Pricing is staying at relatively low levels these days as you can see in the chart below. As far as we can tell (and we certainly have no crystal ball) it would appear that high temperature alloy component pricing should remain fairly stable for the foreseeable future.

Last week we visited a very impressive heat treating facility Erie Steel Treating in Toledo, Ohio, USA-let us tell you a little bit about the company. Erie was founded by Phil Flynn a metallurgist for Buick back in 1961 (it is worth mentioning that right beside Erie Steel is GM Propulsion Systems which maintains a very large captive heat treating department-this is the legacy of Buick). We met with a very experienced fellow, Mr. Michael Mouilleseaux, General Manager who gave us a tour of the facility and gave us a very good idea about the company. Michael summed up the organization by describing it as doing “precision carburizing of high volume parts which are distortion critical” with a heavy emphasis on the transportation industry. It does this through 2 pusher furnaces, several large batch IQ furnaces but the company also has a large vacuum department and the ability to handle annealing, normalizing and stress relieving to name a few. This is all done with roughly 60 employees in a 70,000 square foot building. We all know that the heat treat industry has a heavy emphasis on family businesses well Erie is no different. The current owner and President is Mr. Pat Flynn the son of the founder. If there was one thing which really impressed us it was the cleanliness of the plant. Carburizing with oil quenching is inherently a dirty process, well this shop is as clean as any oil quenching facility we have ever seen. In the first photo below taken in the lab we have from the left; Brian Flynn (Process Engineer), Morgan Little (Quality Engineer), Jamil Bolden (Lab Supervisor) and Michael Mouilleseaux GM. The second photo shows one of the two pusher furnaces.

A little while back we told you how Can-Eng furnaces had received an order for a mesh belt line from a customer in Europe which is fairly unusual. It would appear that the line is now up and running as we can read in this press release; “CAN-ENG Furnaces International Ltd has recently commissioned in the Piedmont Region of Italy, a state-of-the-art continuous mesh belt heat treat system for the production of high quality automotive fasteners. This Italian project was one of four installation locations for this globally recognized producer of specialty automotive fasteners that span from Europe, South America, Mexico and USA.”

A pet peeve of ours is press releases from industry suppliers which say little or nothing about who the actual end user of their product is, what it is for or even where they are located. The Can Eng press release above doesn’t tell us who the end customer is (and we understand why) but it does say that the furnace line was just commissioned, what it is for and where it is located. An example of a very self serving press release which tells you nothing has to do with the photo below. It was issued by a Chinese furnace manufacturer by the name of JGEF who tells us this is a nitriding installation they have done and literally nothing else. We have had several people ask us if we knew anything about this installation-the answer is we have no idea about the end user, country, continent or even whether this is a new or old installation. I guess the company got some fee mileage out of the press release but still we are not impressed.

The Wall Colmonoy Brazing School always attracts some interest; “Wall Colmonoy Announces Spring Session of Modern Furnace Brazing School in USA, May 7-9, 2019. Preserving the tradition originated by the late Robert Peaslee, a brazing pioneer who invented the first nickel-based brazing filler metal, Wall Colmonoy offers a spring session of Modern Furnace Brazing School on May 7-9, 2019 at Wall Colmonoy’s Aerobraze Brazing Engineering Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Engineers, technicians, quality managers, production managers, and others will participate in “hands-on” practical applications while learning about brazing technology from the industry’s leading brazing engineers. For over 60 years, Wall Colmonoy engineers have been gaining practical experience on actual problems in brazing plants around the world.”

And that is it for our Monday Morning Briefing for January 28, 2019. Later this week we will be changing gears slightly and covering part of the heat treat industry in France and Italy.