2020 was a strong year for Retech and the SECO/WARWICK vacuum metallurgy segment.
Despite the ongoing global crisis, Retech as the leading supplier of vacuum induction melting (VIM), plasma (PAM), electron beam melting furnace (EB), and VAR furnaces, has completed orders for the largest companies in the aviation and energy industries.
2020 was a very challenging year, due to the many economic and social constraints, hence the implementation of the remote furnace factory acceptance testing (FAT) and a number of modifications to the team’s work organization. However, thanks to these changes, a strong commitment to work through the many challenges, and a dedication to meet or exceed our customer’s expectations, Retech will count this year a successful one.
Retech relocation and a new opening
Early last year, Retech began preparations to relocate the manufacturing and R&D furnaces from Ukiah (CA) to Buffalo (NY). After many delays as a result of the pandemic, Retech is currently working on installing all of our equipment in Buffalo. The new location means over 4,500 m2 of manufacturing space, creating the potential to add up to 80 new jobs, as well as opportunities for growth and innovation. This new space will provide a showplace for Retech’s operation in North America for many years to come. Additionally, western New York is both home to, and close to, a number of strong engineering and technology schools, creating the opportunity to further strengthen the Retech team. We look forward to working closely with the local and regional authorities, who have offered us their support, as we chart the future of Retech.
The change of location will allow us to continue developing and working on further innovative solutions, providing growth potential. The new location also reduces the distance between the American members of the SECO/WARWICK Group. Locating all the companies in one general region guarantees better cooperation, and provides the opportunity to recognize the Group’s overall potential. This modern, new facility potentially provides the cornerstone in leading this effort,” says Earl Good, the Executive Director of Retech Systems, a SECO/WARWICK Group company.
This year featured the successful delivery of several titanium furnaces
During the course of 2020 Retech was able to successfully delivery and start-up a broad range of equipment including the following furnace types – VIM, VAR, consumable caster, and PAM. The two qualities that stand out the most with the team’s effort during the pandemic, are that Retech was able to deliver all of these furnaces on, or ahead of, schedule and was able to satisfy the customer’s expectations. One customer commented, “A careful analysis showed Retech to be the indisputable choice for this important project. We are extremely pleased with the results, in every aspect. The furnace was delivered on time, and the start-up was carried out without any difficulty. We were able to start production as soon as the installation was completed.” These results also highlight the strength of the combined American and Polish teams, as some of these furnaces were completed entirely by Retech, and some by the joint team.
The world’s largest titanium casting from Retech
An additional noteworthy achievement from 2020 is that a Retech Consumable Caster (CC 1000kg) furnace delivered to one of the world’s top research institutions in the UK successfully produced the world’s largest titanium casting, weighing 1000 kg.
Research and development companies, as well as research institutes, are among the many important Retech customers. These customers are often looking for customized solutions, a Retech strength, to try to develop new processes or products. Last year, a Shanghai university also joined our clientele, placing an order for a plasma furnace (PAM). Retech’s willingness to work with our customers to develop unique solutions makes us the easy choice for many research companies.
Another interesting project which was begun in 2020 is an 8.4 MWatt furnace with as many as five burners. It will be the crown jewel in the melting facility of one of the world’s biggest titanium producers.
Worldwide coverage from Retech Systems and the SECO/WARWICK VME team
Retech‘s team provided solutions to customers located around the world in 2020. This included customers in North America, Europe, Asia, and the middle-East. “The joint cooperation between teams on two continents has really become a strength of the team. Our two locations allow us to work on multiple furnaces at the same time for customers around the world. We are able to listen to our customers and develop a solution that meets both their technological and financial needs,” added Earl Good.
The Asian market accounts for almost 30% of the Group’s sales each year, and nearly half of this total goes to aviation companies. The Asian market includes not just China, but customers from South Korea, Japan, and other countries as well. The Japanese market, commonly associated with precision, high quality and reliability, has very high expectations of its partners and suppliers. Although demanded in Japan, Retech strives for these same qualities on all the furnaces we ship into the market. The contracts in Asia cover the Group’s full portfolio of VME furnaces, including PAM, VIM, and VAR furnaces.
VIM – a vacuum metallurgy leader
“Sales in the Group’s vacuum metallurgy segment increased from 13.4% to 28% (Q3 2019 vs Q3 2020). The VIM furnace, one of the most frequently sold products from Retech’s vacuum metallurgy offer, undoubtedly contributed to this success. However, it is also gratifying to see the interest in modern technologies, such as the customized PAM furnace, in which Retech is the undisputable market leader.”- concludes Slawomir Wozniak, CEO at SECO/WARWICK Group.
The remote factory acceptance test – not only a COVID solution
Last year, SECO/WARWICK and Retech implemented a comprehensive remote factory acceptance test (FAT) program. The first fully remote tests were performed for customers in China, Mexico, and South Korea. They were carried out without the involvement of the customer’s engineers being on-site in Poland. The tests were successful, and the adopted procedures guarantee the reliability and completeness of data. Remote FAT tests (of which as many as nine were performed in 2020) have therefore become prevalent, and an acceptable standard for many of our customers.
“Remote (FAT) is a service we were developing even before the pandemic. The epidemiological situation accelerated the implementation of this test procedure. Supplementing our reports with video files of activities and the course of the process, as well as the ability to analyze data online, helped to avoid time-consuming and costly travel, which is an advantage for both the producer and the customer,” says Robert Szadkowski, Aftermarket VP at SECO/WARWICK Group.