An open-die forging operation in England’s West Midlands has started up a reconditioned hammer forge, adding new production capacity with an eye to supplying more volume to current customers, and perhaps to new customers as well.

Kimber Drop Forgings in Cradley Heath invested more than $1.5 million to add the “fully reconditioned” Massey Forging Ltd. friction drop hammer machine to its workshop, where it already operates two smaller drop hammers, horizontal upsetters, and a friction screw press machine. The shop has CNC machining capability as well.

Forgings in carbon, duplex, and stainless steel, as well as aluminum are produced for automotive, petrochemical, and railroad markets, including up to 20% as exports to North American, Mid-East, and Asian customers.

“You don’t hear about many new forges being built in the U.K., so we’re delighted to put our sector on the map with this sizeable investment,” stated KimberMills International chairman Larry Joyce. “Like many businesses we had a tough time during the recession of 2009 and had to make decisions that didn’t come easy. However, we managed to battle through it, and have now got to the stage where turnover has hit £4 million … a slight increase on what we were doing before the global dip.”

Joyce then explained that increasing production capacity to produce larger forgings was essential to growing the group’s business. “Rather than patch up existing plant, we decided to build a new forge,” he said, “a rarity in the Black Country in recent years.”

The added machine is housed in a new air-conditioned and soundproofed workspace, and it will likely lead Kimber Drop Forgings to add as many as five more workers to its crew of 27 operators.

The company’s new goal is to top £5 million ($7.7 million) in annual sales this year.  

Geoff Turnbull, managing director, noted that the new production capabilities mean that Kimber Drop Forgings “can now offer a turnkey package, from really small components to large ones weighing over 75 kg.

“This immediately opens up opportunities to supply new oil-and-gas customers, not to mention making stronger inroads into automotive, construction, mining, and tunneling,” he said.

In addition, Turnbull explained that the group hopes to increase its inventory storage and processing capabilities with a new, purpose-built facility.