For nearly 120 years, Specialty Ring Products has been producing forged rings for industry. The company’s founder, armed with a patent for his ring-shaping apparatus that rolled and forged seamless rings, set out to gain a reputation as a reliable source of industrial parts. His efforts, and those of successive generations, have established a successful and prosperous enterprise.

Figure 1. Hot ring rolling is SRP's stock-in-trade.

1n 1890, William T. McCreavy established what he called the Schuylkill Forge Company in eastern Pennsylvania. His dream was to supply his customers with reliable, high-performance steel forgings and to gain a reputation as a dependable source of industrial parts. By anyone’s measure, he succeeded admirably, and today, on a seven-acre site in Bensalem, Pa., lies Specialty Ring Products (SRP) Inc., McCreavy’s legacy, which is still a privately held family company run by his descendants.

In 1910, McCreavy received a U.S. patent for a ring-shaping apparatus that formed seamless steel rings. It set the standard for the forging industry at the time and set the course for the future of his company as well. Since then, the company’s ring-rolling capabilities have continually expanded and improved to the point where the company boasts of its ability to forge seamless rolled rings from any forgeable material – the common grades as well as the more exotic tool steels and aerospace alloys.

Progressive generations of the McCreavy family are still involved in SRP’s ownership and operation. They are committed to keeping the company on the cutting edge of technology and maintaining a strong presence in the aerospace and commercial industries. Indeed, after so many decades of experience in design and manufacturing, it should be no surprise that SRP’s technical-service team can offer customers suggestions relating to design criteria, processing and finishing techniques, and standard and custom order specifications.

In this age of accelerating technological change, SRP’s management is committed to not only keep up with but also help define the state of the art in ring-rolling capability. They do this by continually seeking and integrating new technologies through each phase of the manufacturing process. This includes the deployment of skilled technical and engineering personnel, the networking of computers throughout the plant, and ongoing staff and professional development.

Figure 2. Elevated view of the forge shop

Customer Satisfaction

There is no ambiguity at SRP about what its main objective is – customer satisfaction. This starts with its ability to deliver a quality product on time and at a reasonable price. To this end, SRP’s management requires that each of the company’s individual operations maintains its target quality level and that total quality is reached through the concerted efforts of each member of the organization.

The management philosophy for developing and maintaining high quality and professional standards within the company emanates from SRP’s senior executives down to all levels of the organization. All employees are fully attuned to the company’s quality programs and policies, and each treats product quality and customer satisfaction as a personal responsibility.

The company uses internal quality audits and third-party surveillance audits to assure that the SRP quality program is maintained. Quality certifications the company has achieved to date include: ISO 9001:2000 registration, AS 9100 Rev.B registration, Bell Helicopter Certified Supplier and Laboratory Controlled Source – Pratt & Whitney.

Figure 3. The company's front entrance proclaims its quality certifications.

Company Capabilities

SRP’s commitment to its customers is articulated in six points: maintain high quality, innovative performance, undisputed reliability, lower prices, on-time delivery and customer satisfaction. Obviously, meeting these commitments requires capital and equipment resources for production, in addition to committed personnel.

To begin with, the company stocks most grades of steel it uses, with 150 different grades of steel on hand at any given time. Aside from common carbon and alloy steel grades, SRP also forges stainless steel, nickel-based high-temperature alloys, cobalt and superalloys, high-speed tool steels, copper and its alloys, and titanium alloys.

Once the material is selected, it goes to the cutting area, where abrasive and carbide cutting machines cut material into properly sized billets. The cutting machines enhance the dimensional uniformity of final forgings. Once billets are cut, they go to the forging furnaces. These are fueled by natural gas, but propane is available as a backup fuel if needed. As the billets are heated, automated furnace controls maintain a tight temperature range, and the thermal history of each production run is maintained on file for future reference.

Heated material is then sent to the forging presses and rolling mills, where it is pressed and rolled into shape. A variety of forging presses are available to pre-form billets in three stages. Four rolling mills are used to produce multiple shapes, with contours closely following the shape of the finished ring. Following ring rolling, sizing presses are used to provide closer dimensional control to the rolled rings.

New rings, now rolled and sized, are then sent to in-house annealing furnaces to be thermally treated in conformance to customer specifications. Once treated, the rings are shot-blasted for descaling and cleaning. Then it’s off to the final inspection department, where the rings are dimensionally inspected and checked for the proper hardness before being packaged and shipped.

Figure 4. Flanged rings in process

What's New?

As with any growing business, change is an important component of SRP’s competitiveness. The company recently completed the installation of a new production line that will accommodate ring sizes ranging from 20-45 inches (OD) and 12 inches in height. The increase in size capability has improved the range of the company’s product offerings. New equipment installed that has helped make this line possible includes a 2,000-ton hydraulic Bliss press, a 100/60-ton radial/axial ring-rolling mill and two manipulators for maneuvering pieces during forging operations.

Consistent with the full-service approach that many forge shops have taken to better serve its customers, SRP has installed two electric heat-treating furnaces with controlled atmosphere. These provide the company with the ability to offer in-house heat-treatment services, thereby eliminating the need to outsource, which saves both time and money for the company and its customers. Finally, the company has installed two Daewoo CNC lathes to machine customers’ orders to tighter tolerances up to 15 inches in diameter. This gives customers the option of eliminating their own machining capabilities for these parts and receiving heat-treated and machine-finished parts at a competitive price.

During the past year, SRP opened a new building adjacent to its forging department. The new facility will house the company’s lathes, which were moved from the old machining area into the new structure. These lathes, along with three new additional lathes and more personnel, will increase the company’s capacity for machining tools and rings. Previously, there was only a machining department, which was responsible for machining rings/product to tight tolerances as well as machining the company’s own forging tools (punches, cavities, etc.). This was a severe bottleneck and prohibited growth into a second shift.

Figure 5. Machined rings await final inspections before they can be shipped to the customer.

Now the original machining building is filled with CNCs, two ACs and a vertical turning lathe. The company purchased a Daewoo Puma V550 capable of turning up to 31 inches OD. It also purchased two Doosan Puma 300 horizontal CNCs. This is in addition to the two Daewoo Puma 250s previously purchased. As a result, SRP now has the capacity to machine all of its parts in-house.

Within the past year, SRP purchased a new 75-HP J.W. Savage wet saw, which is capable of cutting up to 6.50-inch round bar stock. It now has two band saws, two abrasive saws (50-HP and 75-HP) and one carbide saw.

For its sizing operations, SRP purchased and is preparing a used Ajax 1,000-ton mechanical press, which will replace an older press that has become obsolete. The Ajax press will increase capacity by enabling the sizing of both ID and OD contoured parts. The previous press was unable to size certain configurations.

Thinking farther ahead, the company has also purchased two used Wagner 630 ring-rolling mills similar to the three it already has in operation. These will either be used for parts or for the installation of another production line. Additionally, SRP recently purchased a used Wheelabrator shot blaster, which was needed to handle the company’s increased capacity.

Finally, SRP has undergone a beautification process over the past year. All its buildings have been painted inside and out, old windows were replaced, new landscaping was installed, as also were new fencing, new security cameras (inside and out) and additional security lighting. Existing and new parking areas and driveways were also paved, which improved process flow and efficiency.

Figure 6. Carbide saw cuts ingot material into forging billets

Performance and Products

Among the many products produced at SRP are high-temperature ball and roller bearings used in aircraft jet engines, bevel gears used in helicopter transmissions, spherical roller bearings used in the very ring-rolling mills used to make its own products, seat holders used in valves, tapered roller bearings used in strip mills and ring gears used in heavy earthmoving equipment.

Many of these parts are used in performance-critical applications and, as such, must be of the highest quality and made according to strict technical specifications. The company prides itself in producing stronger rings of uniform precision. Metallurgical analysis verifies the superior results gained by combination rolling-forging. Flow lines are continuously even and follow the contours of the shape, and the controlled grain flow created by rolling makes the rings less subject to distortion through heat-treatment cycles.

Figure 7. SRP makes its own tooling in its new machine shop.

The rings made by the company’s semi-automated ring mills can be of any forgeable material, including stainless steels, tool steels and aerospace metals. Rings are manufactured from 2.25-inch ID to 45-inch OD with a maximum width of 12 inches in rollable cross section with contours on ID or OD. Additionally, hot rolling conserves material and permits rolling close to net-shape, thereby reducing finishing costs substantially.

SRP’s Technical Service Group is experienced in all phases of ring design and manufacture. They can offer suggestions regarding processing techniques, material selection and final applications. Working with the design group in the early stages of a product’s development can result in substantially reduced manufacturing and finishing costs.

Figure 8. Hot rings cool in a bin before further processing.

Looking Ahead

It has been nearly 100 years since William T. McCreavy received a patent for his seamless ring-rolling and shaping apparatus. Since then, the company he founded as Schuylkill Forge Company has become Specialty Ring Products Inc. But even though the company exists in a rapidly changing world and serves continually evolving markets, one thing stays the same – SRP is still privately held and run by McCreavy’s descendents.

“We have invested money in equipment and beautification projects,” said SRP president Alex Jennings. “I feel employee morale is an extremely important part of any successful business. When our employees see that management cares about what type of environment they are working in every day, it makes them feel that they are part of a successful, growing company that will continue to provide for its employees.”

SRP admits that it hasn’t always utilized its full capacity in the past, and that process flow, bottlenecks and training quality employees have restricted them from implementing a second shift. Now, however, SRP has made the necessary capital investments and streamlined its processes to smoothly transition into a second shift and increase capacity.

“Once again, we will have another record year in sales. I feel we will truly see a return from our investment next year and for many years to follow,” Jennings said.