12 Dec Casting Conversion Comes Out Top in the UK Cast Metals Industry Awards 2022

The UK casting industry came together for its 2022 Awards Dinner to celebrate together the ‘Best of British Casting’.

The UK Cast Metals Industry Awards Dinner, which attracted nearly 200 guests, focused on the great castings being manufactured in metal by UK foundries, and their huge achievements in innovation, growth and component performance.   Featuring good company, delicious food and drink, the evening was also an opportunity to catch up with old friends.  Co-presented by Pam Murrell of the Cast Metals Federation (CMF), which organises the event, supported by comedian Patrick Monahan, who also entertained during the evening, the awards clearly showcased the successes of the industry in all sectors.  Technical and commercial expertise, investment in plant and people, the drive to greater sustainability and a focus on the technical and engineering detail, all were on display.

The ‘Component of the Year’ award was won by Atkinson Vos, in partnership with The Boro’ Foundry who makes the castings and ADI Treatments Ltd, who carried out the heat treatment, supported by Partline and Lancaster University.

The Company of the Year was won by MRT Castings Ltd who played a key role in the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic as a supplier of a large suite of aluminium die-cast components to one of the world’s leading manufacturers of critical care ventilators.

The Innovation Award was won by Sarginson’s Industries Ltd, who supply the automotive sector with aluminium components, and who took the strategic decision to undertake a full development programme, tailored to business strategy, value stream mapping and supply chain management, underpinned by Industry 4.0 digital platforms.

CMF Chairman and CEO of Castings PLC Adam Vicary opened the celebration dinner at the Drayton Manor Resort: “Despite the gloomy economic predictions, the majority of our foundries are doing well, and this is typified by the quality and innovation of our finalists.

“We can clearly see a commitment to innovation and problem solving, working with customers and embracing new technology from all our winners, not to mention a willingness to collaborate, develop workforces and push forward with sustainability.”

He continued: “The castings and foundry industry can be part of the solution to growth for the UK. And let’s remember, our sector makes all the components a modern economy depends upon, and metals recycle forever.”

So here are more details of the winners and finalists in the three awards categories.

Component of the Year – Winner – Atkinson Vos, Lancaster, The Boro’ Foundry, Stourbridge, and ADI Treatments Ltd, West Bromwich.

The ‘Component of the Year’ award was won by Atkinson Vos, in partnership with The Boro’ Foundry who made the castings, and ADI Treatments Ltd, who carried out the heat treatment, supported by Partline and Lancaster University.

The part is a 3-point linkage power lift arm, weighing 54kg, for Unimog, which is a range of multi-purpose tractors, trucks and lorries, used for the agricultural, forestry and rail sectors.  Initially a steel fabrication, consisting of 9 laser-cut parts, the component was inelegant and prone to distortion and failure.  In converting the part from a fabrication to a casting in Austempered Ductile Iron, the new cast design is 4 times stronger in the critical areas, whilst being lighter, due to the inherent stiffness of the ADI compared with the steel equivalent.  The judges particularly liked the fact that the project was a true collaboration with students from the University of Lancaster involved in the design for casting feasibility.

Arron Rimmer, Director at ADI Treatments Ltd, explains, “The use of casting as the ‘route to manufacture’ for this component now allows greater flexibility in producing design variants for the customer, greater reliability and a cleaner geometry, with the additional possibility for the client logo to be ‘cast on’, and larger batches are now viable on a reduced timescale.  This was a great project to be involved in.”

Component of the Year – Highly Commended – CastAlum, Welshpool.

Shortlisted for the award was a part made by Welshpool based CastAlum, a Torque Driver High Housing, one of a suite of four components making up the chassis torque drive assembly for a premium electric car.

Extensive redesign of this complex aluminium part was required by the company, with process optimisation employed to save metal and optimise output efficiencies, improving environmental performance.  The project required investment in a new 2,500 tonne diecasting machine. The use of conformal cooling channels, which the company has developed, enabled through bespoke printed forms and incorporating flow control mechanisms, as well as continued process optimisation, all contributed to produce a world leading result.  The part came into operation within 18 weeks from point of order and the suite of parts is now being produced for export to Europe.  In terms of the commercial impact, the initial five-year contract has now been extended to eight years, and the project has enabled the company to successfully break into the Alternative Fuel Vehicle market with an order value of £8M per annum and the potential for further contracts worth up to £200M which would fill production capacity to 2030.

Company of the Year – Winner – MRT Castings Ltd, Andover.

The company of the year was won by MRT Castings Ltd who played a key role in the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic as a supplier of a large suite of cast aluminium components to one of the world’s leading manufacturers of critical care ventilators.  To scale up to meet demand, MRT needed to triple the size of the business in a matter of weeks and turnover went from £7.6m to £20.8m, partly enabled by the recent fortuitous investment in a new facility, without which the timescale could not have been met.

As Phil Rawnson, MRT Castings Managing Director, describes, “Our growth plans, which we had intended to take five years, were condensed into weeks, and we invested over £3.5M in two additional diecasting cells, seven additional CNC machines, adding significant automation.  We had to take on 45 employees and train them, as well as introducing a two-shift operation. This is now enabling new projects and process optimisation, leading to major new customers in a range of sectors.”

Company of the Year – Highly Commended – Cosma Castings Ltd, part of the Magma Group, Telford.

Cosma Casting UK, part of the Magma Group, has recently installed and commissioned six new 4,400t locking force high pressure die casting machines to supply their customers in the automotive sector.  The work force also grew by 400, many of whom had never seen or operated an aluminium diecasting machine so to address the growing skills needs the company launched its own Die Casting Academy to develop the next generation of technicians and engineers. With a dedicated trainer the company now offers a 12-week intensive programme to new recruits programme that used to take 9 to 12 months.  The company has recently launched a further 8 large, lightweight structural castings for Jaguar Land Rover with optimised casting tolerances to reduce both the process steps and the manufacturing carbon footprint.  They have begun their journey to Industry 4.0 to support their aim of being a technology leading facility.

Award For Innovation – Winner – Sarginsons Industries Ltd, Coventry.

The third award for innovation was won by Sarginsons Industries for its Digital Twin activities, embracing industry 4.0 digital platforms.  The company, who supply aluminium parts to the automotive industry, took the strategic decision during 2020 to undertake a full development programme.  This was at a time when the automotive sector, like many other businesses, was experiencing very challenging conditions.  The programme was tailored to business strategy, value stream mapping and supply chain management and predicated on the recognition that simulated computer aided engineering did not accurately replicate reality.

The creation of Digital Twin activities was fundamental to this and the new enhanced ‘design for manufacture’ process includes the traditional aspects of design and simulation, but also now includes property simulation, data mapping to client computer-aided engineering software, integrated optimised topography with more realistic stress analysis and deformation predictions – and all conducted before tooling manufacture.  Working closely with some of the UK leading universities and involving the company’s many apprentices, interns and graduates, work is now continuing on optimised topology to support radical design concepts.

Anthony Evans, Chairman at Sarginsons said, “Our customers are now able to make informed decisions on design suitability, leading to significant light weighting, through reduced safety factors, and critical reductions in development timescales. In fact one of our customer has described this development as ‘the most exciting innovative concept in aluminium casting in the last 30 years’ so we are excited about the future for the company.”

Award for Innovation – Highly Commended – MRT Castings Ltd, Andover.

MRT Castings Ltd, based in Andover, used an innovative approach to the design, construction and operation of a future-proof world-class aluminium gravity and high-pressure diecasting facility.  Working with the Manufacturing Technology Centre near Coventry (part of the HVM Catapult) the new foundry design was simulated in 3D to enable the MRT team to walk ‘virtually’ around the foundry, allowing workflows to be optimised and the space maximised, and engendering team ‘ownership’ of the project.  The new foundry now incorporates the latest technology, including real-time data collection, automation and robotics, with industry best practice, to address current and future challenges of competitiveness, productivity and sustainability, and allowing for future growth and geared to attracting the best talent.  Against the covid back-drop, the company was focussed on creating a ‘showroom on the shop floor’ to showcase their capabilities to customers as well as creating an inspiring working environment for future talent.

Castings being used for National Memorial.

The final element of the evening was a presentation from William Cook Cast Products on its work in making ‘Shiny Sheff’ – a memorial to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the sinking of the HMS Sheffield during the Falklands conflict with the loss of 20 personnel.

Both the base and the crests were cast by the company in stainless steel and the memorial is now located at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.  As Trevor Stevenson, Executive Director, Industrial Products at the company explained, “The company were justifiably proud to be involved in a project with such a strong local significance.”

See a selection of pictures from the Dinner below.


Abigail Southall
Abigail Southall