Adelaide based Intercast and Forge is Australia’s largest foundry, with a capacity to produce 55,000 tonnes per annum of premium ductile iron castings. Established in 1854, Intercast and Forge has developed to be one of the most innovative and technically advanced foundries in the world. They specialise in the manufacture of railway fastening equipment, the vast majority of which is exported to key clients in Europe and the Americas.
These high-end fasteners are used to secure the rail to the sleeper (tie) on heavy freight lines and high speed passenger networks. In addition, Intercast and Forge produce a range of specialised products for the automotive and mining industries. These products, many of which are patented, include brake parts, trailer couplers, electricity transmission brackets, engine blocks, wear resistant digging tools (GET) for large earthmovers, pumps and countless other castings for a vast number of clients.
Pictured below are some of the rail fastening systems produced by Intercast and Forge. The base plates that are embedded in the sleeper the clips that hold the rails in place are critical components, especially on high speed passenger trains. Each piece must be extremely reliable and made with the highest quality materials.
Intercast and Forge is a wholly owned subsidiary of the French based Delachaux Group. With annual revenues of almost one billion euro and more than 3,000 employees across 20 countries, Delachaux is a world leader in the production of highly specialised metal products. Just like Intercast and Forge, the businesses that make up the Delachaux Group all specialise in the production of unique and highly specialised metal products. These products include the full range of metal castings used in the world’s high-speed and freight rail track systems, electricity transmission materials, and extreme-duty metals used in jet engines. See: http://www.delachaux.fr/
Raw materials required by Intercast and Forge
One of the key features of the products created by Intercast and Forge is the chemical composition. Unlike general-purpose steel, produced in bulk by the world’s steel mills, Intercast and Forge products have extremely high levels of metal purity and consistency. To achieve this, Intercast and Forge have, for many years, purchased almost the entire scrap metal trimmings created by the automotive industry in Adelaide. Steel sheets (coils) used in automotive panel production have low levels of silicon and manganese. These unique chemical properties are essential for the production of strong, lightweight car panels and frames.
This metal is ideal for remelting in the Intercast and Forge furnaces. The chemical properties are exactly what Intercast and Forge need for their products, particularly rail fasteners. In addition, as it is all new material, it is not contaminated with paint, dirt and oil. Such contaminants would infiltrate the chemical profile of the molten metal, potentially affecting its structural integrity.
The Intercast and Forge facility has very limited capacity to deal with smoke and fumes produced by burning these contaminants in their furnaces. Intercast and Forge are dependent on using very clean scrap metal feed and it must have the correct chemical composition. The South Australian automotive manufacturing industry has been giving them this. It is a well-known fact that automotive manufacturing will cease in Adelaide by the end of 2016.
The management of Intercast and Forge explored a number of options to source the clean metal they need. Typical shredded scrap metal produced by the multinational recyclers in Australia (Sims Metal and Onesteel), has inconsistent chemistry. Testing by Intercast and Forge also showed that shredded scrap often contains many of the elements that are not suitable for their products, typically; silicon and manganese.
Access Recycling in South Australia
Access Recycling has been operating in South Australia for more than 10 years. Operations have been limited to large railway line and wagon scrapping projects. Undertaking such projects requires the movement of personnel and equipment from site to site. As a result a permanent depot has never been established. Key projects have included scrapping of over 500 railway wagons in Adelaide, Port Pirie and Port Augusta for Pacific National; and the removal of the worn rails between Whyalla, Port Pirie and Broken Hill (more than 700 kilometres) for ARTC. In recent years, several options have been explored to establish a permanent site in Adelaide, in order to build on existing relationships with rail and mining clients. Pictured below are shipping containers being loaded with railway line for export near Port Pirie.
Access Recycling works with Intercast and Forge
Access Recycling became aware of Intercast and Forge’s issue back in October 2013 after being contacted to see if a long-term supply of railway sleeper base plate scrap would be available. Access trialled numerous shredded steel batches with Intercast from all around the world from shredder operators until the right chemistry was settled on.
It was then proposed by Access Recycling that a purpose-built scrap metal yard could be established at the Intercast and Forge facility in Adelaide. There is ample space and the site is in close proximity to the industrial districts of the city.
The key points of the proposal are:
Access Recycling leases the site for 10 years
Access Recycling establishes a full-scale scrap metal recycling operation, sourcing approximately 50,000 tonnes per annum
Access Recycling separates the scrap metal with the desired chemistry for Intercast and Forge, mainly car bodies
Access Recycling installs a 3000 HP Zato metal shredder with a capacity to process in excess of 50,000 tonnes per annum. Installed at the offtake line will be an advanced metal cleaning system, including dual magnetic drum separators, dust extractors and non-ferrous metals electromagnetic recovery system (ECS). Non-ferrous recovery on a system of this type is expected to yield 1.2% from net tonnes produced
Access Recycling processes the car bodies separate to all other material to produce consistently clean feed for Intercast and Forge, with the desired chemistry
Access Recycling sells and delivers the processed material to the Intercast and Forge foundry scrap bay.
Other scrap metal not required by Intercast is sold to export markets by Access Recycling
Zato metal shredders
Access Recycling’s owners, Adam Perry and Jason Whitaker, toured North America and Europe in search of the best ferrous shredder availble.
It was discovered that Zato shredders specialise in producing very clean metal, rather than simply concentrating on high volumes and low production cost. See: http://www.tatasteeleurope.com/en/ Zato representatives took Jason and Adam to several of their shredder installations in the UK, including Tata Steel in Sheffield UK. The Tata Steel Sheffield plant is the largest metal recycling yard in Europe, with an intake in excess of 25,000 tonnes per week. They specialise in the production of high-grade steel alloys. They supply all of the heavy metal components used by Airbus. Tata Sheffield also supplies Rolls Royce engines with titanium alloys used in aircraft turbine engines. To produce high-grade steel alloys it is essential that the melting steel is very clean. Any impurities could be dissolved in the melt and create weaknesses. The Tata facility has a 3000HP Zato shredder, pictured below.
The shredder has a unique 16 hammer pattern, where the grates are smaller and hammers closer together, compared to other scrap shedders. The result is that the scrap metal stays in the shredding chamber for a longer period, compared to a standard metal shredder. It is cut into much smaller pieces and the high speed cutting action scrubs almost all of paint and contaminants off the metal surfaces. Zato also manufacture an advanced magnetic separation and dust extraction system.
The ‘downstream’ plant is able to completely clean the shredded scrap due to the fact that the paint, rubber, plastic etc. has been cut into extremely small pieces and liberated from the ferrous metal surfaces. Pictured below is the shredded scrap produced by the Zato shredder at Tata Sheffield.