Continuous improvement is core to what we do at GFG. This month we’re taking a look around the world to see what the local teams have be doing to continuously improve their business.
Identifying new opportunities to bring our ambition and products to market
Focused on turning their business around, the LIBERTY Rotherham Steel & Bar team took a look at their product portfolio in 2020 to identify opportunities to grow market share. They found a gap. With 700,000 tonnes of steel reinforcing bar (or rebar) being imported, there appeared to be a market for a locally manufactured, sustainably made product.
Just ten months later, the team shipped their first ‘GreBar’ orders.
GreBar, the name chosen for the new rebar product, calls out the link to our GREENSTEEL strategy – the product is made from scrap metal, and the GreBar logo itself incorporates the Union Jack, highlighting the ‘made in the UK’ origins.
The team are producing GreBar in sizes 25, 32, 40 and 50mm in Grade B500C, with plans to add 20mm to its offering this year.
The ultimate goal is to reach 300,000 tonnes per year, successfully challenging the UK’s reliance on imported rebar and targeting future infrastructure projects. Half of the 1.2 million tonnes of rebar used annually in the UK is sourced from abroad while the HS2 rail project will require significant amounts of rebar. Upgrades and replacement of existing residential and transport infrastructure will also fuel future demand.
Most impressively, the team created and launched this new product in less than a year, in the middle of a pandemic! Congratulations to everyone involved!
A great idea sparks a whole new business
LIBERTY Powder Metals is a new LIBERTY brand that launched in 2020. How does this relate to continuous improvement? Well, the very idea for the business came out of a product that sought to understand more about powder metals’ manufacture and use. The more the team learnt, the more they saw the potential for a whole business, and, well, that’s what happened!
The small team of 14 started out installing and commissioning equipment, setting up the business systems, and getting everything ready for launch. Not without its challenges – the outbreak of COVID hampered efforts – the team have worked incredibly hard to create this new venture for LIBERTY.
So what have they done? Here are the technical details:
Minute spherical powder particles are processed to the highest specifications in a vacuum induction argon gas atomiser, the only one of this kind in the UK, with a unique anti-satellite facility to increase productivity.
Commissioning of the powder metals facility, known as an atomiser, includes a series of ‘acceptance melts’ which LIBERTY must perform before the plant is handed over for full operation. The facility allows LIBERTY to melt a range of defined chemistries and pour the liquid stream through an aperture, using inert gas to break this into fine droplets, which then solidify to create powder, secure and confined in the atomiser to avoid contamination from outside sources.
The powders undergo further processing including optimisation and characterisation before final tests and despatch to customers. The same post-atomisation processing activities are deployed for all metal powders in an extensive portfolio which includes aluminium, titanium and cobalt alloys.
Massive congratulations to the team from Tees Valley for getting this business up and running. It’s incredible to see that a bright idea in a brainstorming session can deliver a greener solution for customers, and growth for LIBERTY!