Sheffield Forgemasters enters long-term partnership with WaldrichSiegen

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Sheffield Forgemasters has signed a long-term partnership with leading machine tool supplier, WaldrichSiegen GmbH & Co. for lifetime support of its proposed new machining facility.

WaldrichSiegen will deliver a 10-year, through-life and production-support contract, plus the design, supply, manufacture, installation and commissioning of 17 new machining centres to create highly accurate, complex shapes required for ultra-large, steel castings and forgings.

The machining line will be housed in a proposed new building at the Brightside Lane site, and includes a series of large-scale, five-axis Vertical Turning Lathes (VTL), which form part of a recapitalisation investment of up to £400m over 10 years to underpin the Sheffield Forgemasters’ defence-critical assets.

Gareth Barker, chief operating officer at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “We have entered into a partnership agreement for a ten-year, through-life and production-support contract with WaldrichSiegen, who will take a permanent base at our site.

“The supply and support agreement creates a fundamental mechanism for driving increased performance from this investment, by working in a long-term business partnership with the machine tools supplier.”

Work has already commenced on the detailed design phase of the project and the first machining centres are planned to go into manufacture before the end of the year, with the first machine scheduled for delivery to Brightside Lane in January 2025.

Gareth added: “We currently operate the UK’s largest five-axis VTL and each new VTL is larger and more technologically advanced, with all machining digitally analysed through a tool-life management system.

“The partnership will create a highly efficient machining line, enabling us to dramatically reduce processing times for complex components and delivering new levels of capability and production management.”

WaldrichSiegen is supported by UK Agents, McDowell Machine Tools Limited, who are key to the design, installation and commissioning sections of the programme and will also be embedded in the through-life and production-support contract, with a permanent presence on the Sheffield Forgemasters site.

Thorsten Mehlhorn, Waldrich Siegen president & CSO, said: “We are delighted to be partnering Sheffield Forgemasters as the company expands its capabilities in the manufacture of highly complex forgings and castings. This partnership is built on the principles of lifetime support and will deliver the most advanced facility of its kind within the UK.”

As part of the service contract, WaldrichSiegen will maintain a Sheffield Forgemasters base for management of a full spares package, and significant supporting facilities which will contribute to the lifetime maintenance of the machines and full suite of 116 machining heads.

The full suite of machines is scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2028 and includes; seven x Heavy Duty VTL’s with 5-8m tables, three x Gantry Mills with 6-16m turning capability, three x RAM Hydrostatic Boring Mills, three x Heavy Duty Horizontal Lathes with 24-27m beds, and one x Gantry Band-Saw.