With more than a century of production and growth, Maritime Steel and Foundries Limited continues to offer an endless array of cast steel products and metallurgical solutions to its ever-growing list of customers. Pat Whiteman reports.
In New Glasgow, Nova Scotia Canada, (specifically Pictou County) said to be the birthplace of Canadian steel making and the cradle of the Canadian steel industry, you will find Maritime Steel and Foundries Ltd. The company has survived more than 100 years, meeting the challenges of the times, new technology and ever-changing markets.
Maritime Steel and Foundries has earned recognition from many of its major customers by delivering product that is consistent in quality, on time and at a fair market price. From making mining picks for local coal mines, to rail spikes and bridges, to the steel frames of huge buildings, Maritime Steel and Foundries makes products that continue to shape the North American landscape.
“Many of the unique metal compositions we produce today are the result of a joint problem solving approach to resolve application issues like superior wear characteristics for ground engaging equipment,” says Kenny Gillis, sales and marketing manager for Maritime Steel and Foundries. “We are an established foundry producing high quality castings and specializing in cast carbon steels in low to mid alloy compositions. We support our products with full metallurgical testing and design and pride ourselves on being a company that is responsive to its customers, adaptable and flexible.”
Gillis says Maritime’s “no bake” cold set molding process gives its final product a better surface finish. “We offer customers full metallurgical capability for both testing and design. We ensure that our processes are controlled. We can provide all the non-destructive testing needed to ensure that the final product going out the door is solid and meets our customer’s requirement for chemical analysis and mechanical properties of the steel.”
Maritime Steel and Foundries produces an array of core products for the mining and earth engaging industries, the railway industry the marine industry and, more recently, the power generation industry. In addition to its core products, Maritime Steel and Foundries also custom manufactures to meet its customers’ needs.
In 2004, the company completely modernized its steel foundry allowing it to produce a wide variety of steel and manganese castings for the railway, mining, construction and other industries. The company provides low alloy and high alloy cast steel compositions in any configuration up to a finished weight of 3,500 pounds. Other value-added functionality offered by the Maritime Steel and Foundries includes machining operations, surface flame hardening, annealing, heating treating, weld repair, blasting and coating applications.
The foundry modernization focused on some of Maritime’s qualities systems as well as some new capital equipment investments. The modernization included the addition of modern induction furnaces (2 x 5000 pounds), numerically controlled machining equipment, thermal sand reclamation, Kloster modeling equipment, two new heat treat furnaces and quench tank, as well as MagmaSoft® simulation, Solid Works and Synchro management software. Maritime Steel and Foundries also is certified to ISO 9001-2000 and has received the TTX Excellent Supplier Award for four consecutive years (2003-2007).
As part of the modernization, Maritime Steel and Foundries also built a modern laboratory to control the many variables of the steel production process. “This new equipment enables our laboratory technicians and engineers to design product and control processes to achieve extraordinary, reproducible quality products,’ says Gillis.
In addition, quality and process control charts are used to provide consistency in its products. Tensile testing, charpy impact testing, magnetic particle, die penetrate, sand testing and destructive testing are used to ensure the quality of all of our products.
Maritime’s engineers also rely on MagmaSoft, Solid Works and other modern software and computer systems to enhance the foundry’s capabilities. These new technologies were an essential part of the company’s modernization strategy.
“This new equipment takes the guesswork out of the process,” says Gills. “Prior to using the MagnaSoft software application, we relied primarily on trial and error which can be a time-consuming and expensive endeavor,” says Gillis. “This takes that step out of the process. The state-of-the-art MagmaSoft simulation software allows our engineers to efficiently design patterns and provide solidification for our customer’s parts well in advance of pouring metal.”
Creating the solid geometry using SolidWorks, then importing into Magmasoft enables Maritime Steel engineers to optimize the casting process by performing computer simulations. Prior to making any molds, the simulation software allows the engineer to correct potential casting defects and improve yields so superior quality castings are produced in a timely, cost effective manner ensuring the best value for customers.
The software’s simulation capabilities show the end-user how to avoid gating and feeding problems, predict casting quality, design permanent mold designs and reduce fettling costs.
BENDING THE TREND
While Maritime Steel and Foundries was originally founded to service the shipbuilding industry, it has undergone a number of incarnations since then. While it still counts the marine industry as a valued customer, the company has expanded significantly over its 100+ year history.
“The 80s were strong for us in the railroad industry, as were the 90s. The railroad is the number one consumer of cast steel commodities. The railroad business is a cyclical business from a car building perspective, however,” explains Gillis. “Over the years, we started focusing on ship building and mining, then developed our core products. The trend we see today because of globalization and with the railroad business being cyclical, is the trend be more of a diversified foundry that defines itself by making unique parts for crushers and hammers and jaw crushers and dragline parts for the mining industry. We are shifting from items of high volume in less volume, to more complicated, specific and unique products.”
With commodity type goods being imported from lower cost producing nations, manufacturers such as Maritime Steel and Foundries have been forced to find their market specialty. Maritime’s objective is to continue to diversify into new and existing markets. “We created a new Web site to help market ourselves and we’re trying to expose new opportunities with some pretty good companies throughout North America in power generation, mining, ship building, and the off shore/marine industry, so it is a pretty exciting time for us,” says Gillis. “We’re starting to expose some of the things we have done in our past and we’re building a more comprehensive customer base. The exciting part is we’re seeing people contact us and we’re contacting others and developing a generation business in some industry sectors that we were familiar with in the past.”
A FOUNDRY’S FUTURE
Maritime Steel and Foundries is committed to producing the highest quality products, continuous improvement, customer service, on time delivery at competitive pricing.
“We are starting to see products that are new to us. A one piece casting can replace a sub assembled fabrication where you have three or four pieces molded into one item in the case of building rail cars or earth engaging equipment,” says Gillis, “Casting wheels are another big item out there. We’re also focused on generating crusher parts. We’re excited about them.”
Martime Steel and Foundries is also excited about its work with the power generation industry. “This is a new area for us. We are currently working with a power generating company who is looking to us to help them with some of the components of their generators,” says Gillis.
Gillis says there is also talk about another foundry expansion in the future to increase its capabilities beyond a finished weight of 3,500 pounds. “Our metallurgical staff, design engineering and production staff thrive on a challenge,” says Gillis. “Maritime Steel draws on its people skills to meet those challenges and it is our flexibility that has helped us stay competitive and thrive all these years.”