Fig. 1. CI's 12,000-pound hammer in action.


Fig. 2. The NADCAP-certified company does most of its own thermal treating on premises.

For 60 years, Consolidated Industries of Cheshire, Conn., has been a leading supplier of high-quality open- and closed-die forgings for demanding applications in the aerospace, power-generation and high-tech commercial markets. The company considers itself an atypical supplier, insofar as it specializes in the forging of a full spectrum of ferrous and nonferrous alloys. Whether the metal is aluminum, magnesium, stainless steel, titanium, Inconel or other high-temperature alloys, if it’s forgeable, Consolidated says they can forge it.

The company produces forgings from fractions to 200 pounds in both closed- and open-die configurations. Its Cheshire facility has a total area of 86,500 square feet, 71,900 of which are devoted to manufacturing, 8,300 to inspection and 6,300 to office space. Its customers rely on Consolidated to produce a myriad of forgings to meet their needs, which may range from high-mix, low-volume orders to steady-running, high-volume automotive applications.

The company’s current ownership took over the operation in May 1999. Since then the company has continued to serve the commercial and aerospace industries (50% of the business) as well military, government and defense aerospace (the remaining 50%). Among the products manufactured are components for landing-gear assemblies, aerospace missiles, helicopter structures, navy torpedoes, aircraft engines and airframes, and other marine applications.

Part of the value proposition Consolidated Industries offers its customers includes complete in-plant facilities for product design, metallurgical consultation, die design, computer-generated forging simulation, heat treating, chemical etching and nondestructive testing. In most instances, the entire production process can be completed on the Cheshire premises, which the company claims results in lower unit costs and reduced lead times relative to its competitors. The company is ISO 9001-2000 and AS 9100 certified and has attained NADCAP certification for all of its critical special processes.

Fig. 3. A bird's-eye view of the shipping area.

Consolidated’s reputation as a key supplier to many of the major aerospace OEMs has been built on its dedication to the Continuous Improvement Process. Through the establishment of internal teams consisting of participants from all levels of the organization, the firm has instituted an ongoing Value Stream Mapping (VSM) program designed to continually review, evaluate and improve on all facets of the business. VSM is an initiative by the company to get everyone involved in understanding its business, then using “the genius of the group” to make rapid improvements as deemed appropriate.

There are two Six Sigma Black Belts on staff who assist team members in the application of a data-driven approach toward problem solving and reducing process variation. Use of this methodology, the company claims, has strengthened its commitment to maintaining the highest quality standards in the industry.

In another program – designed to assist customers in improving their competitive position – Consolidated will form a team of manufacturing engineers, quality specialists and production personnel to meet with customers’ design and engineering personnel. Together, they learn to improve the manufacturability of existing designs or to engineer cost out of designs for new applications.

In order to meet its customer requirements, Consolidated forges parts from a broad base of materials, as previously listed. In addition, the forge keeps abreast of the latest industry developments and emerging technologies through its active participation in the Forging Industry Association and the Forging Defense Manufacturing Consortium. The company feels it is its responsibility to continually improve and update its facilities, equipment and processes and to minimize the impact of raw-material cost dynamics to help give their customers a competitive edge.

Consolidated’s management feels their company’s commitment to serving its customers promptly and efficiently has driven its steady growth over the years. Keeping facilities current through continuous upgrading and maintaining a qualified, well-trained staff has allowed them to meet the demands of a dynamic industry. It is evident that the strategy is working, given that a partial list of its customers includes Boeing, Sikorsky Aircraft, GE, Lockheed, Lord Corporation, Raytheon and Vought.

Consolidated Industries, Inc. is located 30 minutes southwest of Hartford in Cheshire, Conn., just off I-84. For additional information visit www.forgemetal.com

SIDEBAR: Consolidated Industries at a Glance

Here’s a quick look inside CI’s plant in Cheshire, Conn.

Computer Systems/Applications: Microsoft Dynamics-AX, ERP Software; Solidworks CAD; CAMWorks CAM; Deform FEA Forging Simulation Software; as well as the latest Network infrastructure running PCs including Windows XP and Office 2007 software suite

Forging Equipment: 1,500-ton and 2,500-ton PLC-controlled hydraulic presses, and steam hammers from 1,500-12,000-pound capacity

Trimming and Cut-Off Equipment: Trim presses to 400 ton, vertical and horizontal band saws, CNC abrasive cold-sawing machines, belt sanders, grinders, deburring equipment, power hoists, jacks and platform scales

Material Handling: Mobile cranes to 5-ton capacity, forklift towmotors – 300-10,000-pound capacity, Hyster die-loaders and forklifts – 2,500-5,000-pound capacity

Heat Treating: Solution heat treating, normalizing and annealing furnaces; oil, water and boiling-water quench tanks; hardening furnaces and hardness testers

Finishing: Acid and caustic etching facilities for cleaning, passivating and alpha case renewal; grinding jacks and polishing lathes; grind stalls for steel, aluminum and magnesium; finishing mills – 10-20 ft3 capacity; high-capacity, automated rotoblast equipment

Final Inspection (Nondestructive Testing): Automated longitudinal and shear-wave ultrasonic-inspection equipment; automated magnaflux testing equipment – capacity to 7.5-inch diameter; Zyglo equipment for fluorescent-penetrant inspection

Laboratory: Micro and macro examination; stress corrosion, hardness and conductivity testing; physical-property testing including tensile strength, yield strength, elongation and reduction in area

Identification for Traceability: Using a variety of methods, staff applies all required identification to every forging. Traceability is maintained from the metal supplier to the final forging