Fri, 11/09/2015 - 12:00
Current Issue 34
UCB’s Unibar product range is one of the most successful in the industry on a global stage, but the UK-based manufacturer refuses to rest on its laurels as it continues to break records and strive for leaner processes
Raising the Bar
United Cast Bar (UCB) is setting increasingly impressive standards in 2015 as it continues to raise the bar; even for a Company that had already become so synonymous with leading the way in iron bar manufacturing.
As the home of Unibar Continuous Cast Iron, the business was formed in 1998 as a merger of three of Europe’s most prestigious iron bar foundries across the UK and Spain, and has since gone from strength to strength in expanding its range of products and services to an ever-growing and expectant footprint of customers.
“Bringing together more than 120 years of experience into one group of companies, United Cast Bar developed a synergy for technical and manufacturing procedures, quality systems, control parameters, commercial rationalisation and supply logistics,” the Company notes in relation to its evolution over the past 17 years. “From this base, United Cast Bar has created the Unibar brand of products.”
Available in a range of grades, and suitable for an array of application demands, Unibar is produced to bespoke specifications; a key business model to have influenced UCB’s success over the years, lending themselves to produces ranging from break discs, to hydraulic manifolds, to pistons, plate moulds and many, many more.
With distribution arms spanning much of mainland Central Europe, and even Turkey and South Korea further afield, UCB is now perfectly positioned to fulfil its initial aims and visions on a larger scale than ever before.
“United Cast Bar has strengthened and extended its sales structure and logistics network over the years by providing a manufacturing base to produce more than 80,000 tonnes of Unibar, with more than 20,000 tonnes permanently held as standard stock in its foundries and distributors, throughout Europe, North America and the Far East,” the Company explains. “Our aim with Unibar is to establish standards of quality, consistency and customer service that exceed current market demands, and to provide the best technical and commercial support.”
UCB’s business model stemmed from its Group-wide philosophy of ‘Procedure for Best Practice’, complemented by an efficient cost structure in order to sustain consistent quality in a competitive market.
This ethos originates in the manufacturing process in optimising lean practices to create an array of benefits.
The Company explains: “The Unibar horizontal continuous casting machine consists of four major units: in the closed system a liquid-cooled die is built into the holding furnace so that the liquid metal enters the die without coming into contact with the atmosphere.
“Because the bar is pulled horizontally, the metal flows more uniformly and is always subjected to a much higher ferrostatic pressure than in sand castings.
“This, combined with rapid cooling in the die, ensures superior soundness, good surface finish and homogenous structure as well as excellent structural cohesion throughout the section.”
A stronger and more durable product is formed as a consequence, and enables flexibility within the business to unveil new grades, such as those being launched to the glass industry in 2015 through the expansion of its original flake and nodular iron products. This flexibility also epitomises a material processing model which meets similarly lean standards.
UCB continues: “United Cast Bar offers various services to deliver pre-machined products to your yard. Pre-machined materials save you valuable production time, eliminates waste in your production and allows you to focus on the key design elements of your products.”
Another area in which UCB has thrived over the years is in technical marketing, ensuring that the Company is not only producing the very best portfolio, but is tailoring its core products to the right places, backed up by the right expertise.
“The Unibar range of products, with its material properties, is an ideal material to substitute other, more expensive material solutions in various applications,” the Company says. “Unibar products are - depending on application - well suited to replace aluminium, steel, sand castings, and brass or bronze.”
The material advantages that are achieved throughout the Unibar range lend themselves to a series of different sizes, grades, regional requirements and trends, and even shapes following close consultation with customers to distinguish each client’s demands.
“Unibar is available in a range of different finishes and all UCB centres can offer various different machining capabilities, from sawn cut lengths to full six-side milling,” the Company states. “United Cast Bar has a team of experts to advise you on best material selection for your particular application needs and our professionals will help you from initial analysis to delivery of the best Unibar product for your trials.
“Many of the advantages of Unibar over other materials can be attributed to the two phases present in the structure; an iron metallic one - similar to steel - and a graphitic phase with graphite in flake of sheroidal form.”
Unibar products are renowned not only for their physical properties but also their cost efficiency and even their commercial advantages. Meanwhile, United Cast Bar as a Group is strengthening its wider reputation year on year through an enthusiasm and commitment to setting new sector standards.
“United Cast Bar has again taken the lead in the manufacture of large section continuously cast iron, increasing our already large portfolio of sizes,” a Company press release declared earlier in the year. “During July, UCB successfully produced more than 180 tonnes of 700mm diameter flake and nodular grades; yet another world record, with much of it sold on pre-orders.”
James Brand, Managing Director of the United Cast Bar UK facility added: “This production run marks the culmination of many years’ hard work in design of equipment and process flow. It supports and expands the already broad product portfolio, opening up yet more doors for our sales people.”
Group Managing Director, Alessandro Rottach also praised the UK operation for the development and added that “United Cast Bar’s balance of efficiency and flexibility, coupled with our broadest product offering for the market from both our UK and Spanish operations, make UCB an invincible force in the continuous cast iron market”.
This invincibility is compounded by a dedication to never rest on its laurels, while keeping a close eye on global industry trends through the attendance of events including Hannover Messe and MECSPE, cementing its position as the only company in the global market place to attempt the scales of production achieved by UCB year after year.