Retech Systems LLC, headquartered in Buffalo, New York, USA, a supplier of vacuum and cold hearth melting furnaces which utilise electron beam, plasma and cold wall induction technology, has reported a strong 2020, despite the ongoing global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Seco/Warwick, Swiebodzin, Poland, has reported it completed orders for some of the largest companies in the aviation and energy industries.
Throughout 2020, Retech was able to deliver and start up a broad range of equipment, including the VIM (Vacuum Induction Melting), VAR (Vacuum Arc Remelting), consumable caster and PAM (Plasma Arc Melting) furnaces – all reported to be on, or ahead of, schedule. A number of these furnaces were completed entirely by Retech in America, with others drawing on the strength of both American and Polish joint teams.
“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,” commented Earl Good, Executive Director of Retech Systems.
An additional achievement from the year is that a Retech Consumable Caster (CC)1000 kg furnace, delivered to one of the top research institutions in the UK, successfully the world’s largest titanium casting, weighing in at 1000 kg. Another project of interest, begun in 2020, is an 8.4 megawatt furnace, with as many as five burners, in the melting facility of one of the world’s largest producers of titanium.
Retech‘s team provided solutions to customers located around the world in 2020; the Asian market accounts for almost 30% Seco/Warwick’s sales each year, nearly half of which is to the industry. The contracts throughout Asia cover the group’s full portfolio of VME furnaces.
“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 customised PAM furnace, in which Retech is the undisputable [sic] market leader,” added Slawomir Wozniak, CEO, Seco/Warwick Group.
Amid the pandemic, Retech, and Seco/Warwick at large, implemented a remote factory acceptance (FAT) programme. The first fully-remote tests were performed for customers in China, Mexico and South Korea, carried out with the involvement of on-site engineers in Poland. The tests were successful; as such, remote FAT tests (of which nine were performed throughout the year) has become an acceptable standard for Retech’s customers.
“Remote (FAT) is a service we were developing even before the pandemic,” stated Robert Szadkowski, Aftermarket VP at Seco/Warwick Group. “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 analyse data online, helped to avoid time-consuming and costly travel, which is an advantage for both the producer and the customer.”
In early 2020, Retech also prepared to relocate the manufacturing and R&D furnaces from Ukiah, California to Buffalo, New York. After many pandemic-induced delays, work is currently being done on the installation of equipment in Buffalo. The location change also reduces the distance between the American members of the Seco/Warwick Group, which Earl Good, Executive Director of Retech, believes will guarantee smoother cooperation and increase the group’s overall potential. He stated, “This modern, new facility potentially provides the cornerstone in leading this effort.”
The new location will be offer 4,500 m2 of manufacturing space, with a potential of up to eighty additional jobs as well, as more generalised growth and innovation. Retech believes that the Buffalo location will act as a showplace for North American operations for many years to come. Western New York is both home to and in close proximity, to a number of engineering and technology schools, which the company hopes to use to its advantage in strengthening its team.