McWane Pipe lives on at AB&I Foundry
After the recession in the 1990s, McWane made the difficult decision to close McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company (MCIP) located in Birmingham, Alabama. McWane divisions across the company were given the opportunity to transfer machinery/equipment from MCIP for use at their facility. We are pleased to report that MCIP’s Escher recuperator lives on at AB&I Foundry. It was a collaborative effort between McWane Corporate, AB&I and ECS of Birmingham, Alabama, to successfully dismantle and transfer the unit from Birmingham to AB&I in Oakland, California.
Working out the logistics for moving the recuperator from one side of the country to the other tested everyone’s patience. But Ruffner Page had given a clear directive − to get out to McWane Pipe and make it happen because reusing the unit was the right thing to do. And that’s exactly what they did.
During the recent winter shutdown, AB&I tackled the installation portion of the project. With some structural modifications to the cupola tower, AB&I was able to re-install the recuperator in the existing melt operations The recuperator weighs more than 74,000 pounds and is 65-feet long so they faced several challenges with the installation. The size and weight combined with the cupola tower structure meant AB&I had to rent the largest crane that Bigge Crane had to offer west of the Mississippi.
The unit was fired up a couple weeks ago and AB&I is seeing better than expected recovery temperatures throughout the melt system. The improvements will enhance the melt operation and reduce furnace operating costs by reusing waste exhaust heat from the cupola in the melt operation. The size of the unit will also provide system stability and will allow for those times when they need to push the melt rate to meet production requirements.
“It’s impressive that AB&I could take a large hot-blast recuperator unit, not originally designed for AB&I’s melt system, and make it work, while at the same time generating significant improvements to our efficiencies in the foundry,” said Kurt Winter, EVP of McWane Plumbing Group.
In this case AB&I was able to reuse a perfectly good piece of equipment in the operation with huge savings to the overall project costs, Utilizing internal resources through reuse or recycling is always a win-win situation. The life expectancy of the unit should be in the neighborhood of twenty years or more. This project is a perfect example of team work and collaboration between the divisions. Everyone benefits from the net result.