Any regular reader of this publication knows that we have been running a series aboutforging as an advanced manufacturing process. Part 4 of this series can be found on page 32 of this issue. It focuses on the advanced materials that can be processed by modern forging techniques and how they help make our industry an advanced one.

As a complement to the notion that traditional forging and other metalworking processes – basic metalworking, in other words – are advanced industries, we were treated in August to the news that the world’s savviest investor, Warren Buffet, intends to buy Precision Castparts Corporation (PCC) for $37.2 billion, including both cash and debt. Through Berkshire Hathaway Inc., an offer was tendered to purchase PCC shares at $235 a share in cash. The per-share price tendered was a 20% premium to the stock’s price on the date of the announcement but a discount from the share price at the beginning of 2015.

Portland, Ore.-based PCC is a global leader in structural investment castings, forged components and airfoil castings for aircraft engines and industrial gas turbines. The company employs about 30,000 people and had net sales in fiscal 2015 of $10 billion, from which it earned about $1.5 billion in net income. PCC’s customer list is an impressive one and includes Airbus, Boeing, GE, Rolls-Royce and many others. It is said that virtually all operational aircraft we see in the air fly with parts made by PCC.

The company has three operating segments: Investment Cast Products, Forged Products and Airframe Products. The investment-casting segment is a global leader in the manufacture of complex investment castings for aircraft engines, industrial gas turbines, airframes and other applications, including the world’s largest-diameter investment-cast components. The airframe-products segment is a leading producer of engineered fasteners, fastening systems, metal components and assemblies for aerospace, transportation, power-generation and other industrial markets.

Of particular interest to our readers is PCC’s forged-products segment, an integrated global leader in the production of complex forgings and high-performance alloys for aerospace, power-generation and industrial applications. Among PCC’s holdings in the forging industry is Wyman-Gordon, a fully accredited supplier to the aerospace and industrial gas-turbine markets that supplies rotating closed-die forgings critical to aerospace and land-based gas turbines. 

Another holding, Titanium Metals Corp. (TIMET), is a fully integrated global supplier of titanium to industry. Special Metals is a world leader in the development, production and supply of high-nickel, high-performance alloys that offer a superior combination of heat resistance, high-temperature corrosion resistance, toughness and strength used in the most demanding industrial applications.

So with an estimated $66 billion in cash at his disposal, Warren Buffet has decided to spend a sizeable chunk of it (his largest acquisition ever) in basic metals and metal processing. Imagine that!

Truly, PCC is an exceptional company that is no stranger to our industry. And Warren Buffet knows that. He has chosen to invest many billions of dollars in a company that produces high-technology precision products of advanced materials designed by sophisticated technologies and sold to long-term customers in the aerospace, power-generation and other industries that tend not to buy strictly on price.

Does a manufacturing industry get any more advanced than that?