How does Wall Colmonoy uplift itself? – by upholding its 75-year tradition of innovation and excellence.
Wall Colmonoy is a leading global materials engineering group, consisting of companies that specialize in the manufacture of surfacing and brazing products, castings, and engineered components. Customers know that they have aligned with the best.
But some remain curious about the company name, what it means. It goes back to 1938, when the entrepreneurial, Albert F. Wall, met two metallurgists—surnames Cole and Edmonds—who developed a specially formulated nickel-based alloy. “The company name is an amalgam of their names, and the term ‘alloy’,” says Ann Clark, global marketing director and a fourth-generation member of this family-owned business.
Certainly, the late Mr. Wall was intuitive enough to realize business opportunities these two metallurgists offered with their innovation. Colmonoy®, a new nickel-based alloy that provided superior protection- from wear and corrosion-when applied to metal components. It contained a unique constituent: chromium-boride crystal. These demonstrated hardness values nearly equal to diamonds.
From there, Wall Colmonoy developed into a global organization: a materials engineering group of companies with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom and France. It serves customers in the aerospace, defense, automotive, oil & gas, glass, energy, food, marine, rubber and plastic industries. In 2013, this thriving enterprise celebrates its 75th anniversary. All the while, the company has remained in family hands. “That shows that we are stable and committed. We have a heritage to uphold,” says Clark.
Such commitment leads to advanced technological expertise that drives value- added solutions. Indeed, Wall Colmonoy develops new products and technologies based on its collaborative relationships with customers in a range of industries.
As the organization headed toward its 75th anniversary, it developed a long-term strategy. An early step involved a global rebranding initiative. “As far as manufacturing, it has truly become a ‘global’ world out there, and we created a new logo that will help us communicate this,” says Clark.
But the initiative is far more cosmetic than a new logo. “We offer a full range of capabilities across a global platform,” says Clark. The market was not fully aware because we weren’t completely portraying what we provide. By strengthening our communications across a global platform, we are now making great strides in raising our profile.”
Change coincided with this latest anniversary milestone. Wall Colmonoy recognized it was crucial to communicate its full range of capabilities. “We want to convey that we’re a strong global company – a singular, unified force,” says Clark.
Bill Clark, Chairman & CEO, states, “In this challenging global marketplace, our business success depends on supporting our customers. As we continue to develop new products and technologies, the rebrand and enhanced communication will showcase our customized expertise that results in smart innovation and growth for our customers.”
Investment for the Future
Part of the ongoing strategy is expansion and renovation of existing facilities:
- UK Site: In May 2012, the company added to its Wales, UK plant, a state-of-the-art machine shop – a 23,500-square-foot facility that will bolster the Pontardawe, Swansea-located plant. Driven by rising demand for products and services in that region, Wall Colmonoy, in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government, made a substantial financial investment that will add capacity, advanced processes and the latest equipment while achieving “Lean” manufacturing initiatives – increasing quality, speed and production efficiency. The facility machines wear-resistant nickel- and cobalt- based super alloys.
- Aerobraze: Aerobraze Cincinnati, acquired in 2006, conducted a full renovation and modernization process. It continues to add talent and the latest in manufacturing technology. At Aerobraze Oklahoma City, Wall Colmonoy added three new pieces of advanced machinery: a CNC 500-ton Beckwood press, a Cincinnati 90-ton CNC press brake and a HAAS CNC vertical machining center. Installation is meant to increase capacity and capabilities in precision metal fabrication and in the heat transfer equipment process.
Renamed in 2012, Aerobraze Engineered Technologies (AET) meets aerospace quality standards such as the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (Nadcap) in applications using the processes of brazing, surfacing, welding, thermal processing, fabricating, machining and overhauling – capabilities that Wall Colmonoy excels in. The two U.S. manufacturing facilities and one European focuses on engine ready components; heat exchangers and aircraft exhaust systems.
- Wall Colmonoy Technologies: The company’s French facility is a leading player in the nuclear power industry – supplying French nuclear firm, Areva, and global nuclear company, Alstom. A new automatic PTA (Plasma Transferred Arc) welding machine, installed at WCT, massively cuts base-metal dilution of Colmonoy (nickel-based) and Wallex (cobalt-based) overlays. This is a key requirement for valve and pump parts used in conventional, and especially nuclear, power plants. Welding times are also drastically reduced because of the very high deposition rates that are possible while maintaining the low-base-metal dilution. Deposition rates have improved to 5 kg/hour (11 lbs/hr) compared to 1.5 kg/hour (3.3 lbs/hour) with older equipment.
A Continuous Improvement Process Focus
Continuous improvement process initiatives are integral to Wall Colmonoy’s long-term strategy and corporate objectives.
Aligned with that focus, the company has brought on new talent with that focus. It currently has 12 Six Sigma ‘Black Belts’ that concentrate on Lean and Continuous Improvement initiatives. “We are proud of our commitment to the Six Sigma Lean process,” reveals Clark.
“Our customers benefit from this – as far as superior quality and delivery. Also, our employees benefit – providing them a safe and clean workplace.”
Brazing: A Major Growth Area
That all points to one of the many substantial capabilities Wall Colmonoy boasts: brazing. “We are witnessing strong growth in this area,” reveals Clark.
Wall Colmonoy has become the leader of nickel-based brazing filler metals. This dates back to 1950, when the company’s expert brazing engineer, the late Bob Peaslee, invented a new brazing technology and a new filler metal called Nicrobraz®, which today remains the leading brazing filler metal used in the aerospace, automotive nuclear, defense, and energy industries. The technology joins parts for high-temperature and corrosion applications.
Today, Wall Colmonoy continues developing new brazing filler metals to meet current market demands. For instance, the new line of Nicrobraz Ni-Cr-Si-P Boron free filler metals—Nicrobraz 31, 33 and 152—are used throughout aerospace and automotive industries in EGRs, catalytic convertors, and heat exchangers. The alloys provide enhanced corrosion resistance, increased joint strength and improved substrate structural integrity by minimizing alloying interactions between the filler metal and base materials, according to the company.
Upholding a Rich Heritage for the Future
But Wall Colmonoy, isn’t going to stop here. In large part, that’s because it is family owned. “We have a heritage to uphold,” says Clark. “That keeps us driven.”
As such, Wall Colmonoy will continue advancing while maintaining a 75-year tradition and reaching for the next 75.