Brooks Forgings states that it is now one of the most versatile manufacturing operations in the UK, with an unrivalled range of processes and products.
Established in 1960, Brooks Forgings Ltd produces forged, fabricated and machined components. Having recently acquired the capabilities of W.H. Tildesley Ltd, one of the oldest drop forging companies in the UK, Brooks has further expanded its competences – especially in exotic materials.
“We had been inter-trading with Tildesley for 35 years and the opportunity to add the company’s experience and knowledge in unusual materials, and its production of large sizes, made it a perfect fit,” explains Stephen Brooks, managing director at Brooks Forgings.
Brooks Forgings’ manufacturing capabilities include upset forging – up to 100mm diameter, drop forging – up to 100kg net weight, horizontal counterblow forging, open die forging, hand forging, die sinking, bending, machining, fabrication and assembly, flash butt welding, robot welding, ring rolling, swaging and pointing, hot pressing, cold pressing, thread rolling, thread cutting and sawing.
“The number of manufacturing processes we have on-site is what makes us unique compared to our competitors,” states Richard Lee, marketing manager at Brooks Forgings. “It eliminates the reliance on sub-contractors, ensuring full traceability and quality of components with improved lead times.”
Strong knowledge base
Brooks Forgings has a vast amount of experience within the industry, which is crucial when working with specialised bespoke components and exotic materials. “We have developed our understanding of exotic materials over the years and it is vital that you are always developing your knowledge,” says Stephen. “You need to know how different materials will react in certain situations, as well as the importance of the quality regime the products have to go through regarding the heat treatment and quenching processes, etc. A lot of companies can’t cope with the complexity of these materials, but we are confident in our skills and quality. Over the last five years there has been a big change in demand for exotic materials and we have experienced an increase in demand due to the unusual shapes we can produce.”
The company is committed to meeting the strict quality requirements demanded by the industry. “We have strived to achieve the necessary quality accreditations required by the vast range of industries we supply,” explains Richard. “For example, with the introduction of the Construction Products Regulation 305/2011, we had to look at CE approval. I’m proud to say that we were the first company to achieve ISO 9001, EN1090 and EN15048 – for forging, machining and fabrication – with Lloyd’s register.”
“We are happy to accommodate whatever inspection and testing regime the customer requires,” adds Stephen. “We have a range of testing equipment in-house and access to UKAS accredited partner test laboratories for any specific requirements outside our capability.”
Another aspect where Brooks Forgings’ experience plays an important role is working with customers on new bespoke components. “We are constantly investing in our capabilities and employees, taking on projects other companies wouldn’t be able to produce,” points out Stephen. “Thanks to the ‘can do’ attitude of our team, we can work together with customers and use the experience of our engineers to provide unique solutions. By working closely with customers you can understand their requirements, which is vital when working on bespoke products that are going into critical applications.”
The company also works with universities on forging new materials that have never been forged before. “We are cutting edge and we want to lead the way in new techniques. By doing this we can then work even closer with our customers on producing new fasteners using these new materials.”
Over the last twelve months Brooks Forgings has also seen a significant change in customers reshoring from Asia, due to the rising costs of shipping products and also the Chinese government cracking down on steel and treatment plants – due to environmental requirements. “There has been a significant increase in customers coming to us and saying they cannot get their products from China in time and need us to set-up and manufacture the components,” says Stephen. “Sometimes we receive very short notice from customers, and they require a quick turnaround. Thanks to our in-house die shop and tool making facility, at both Brooks and Tildesley, we can react quickly. At Brooks we have 13 CNC machines that are wirelessly linked back to a central control office, which means we can design the tools and then wirelessly send them to the CNC machines where they are cut. We always keep a range of blank die blocks in stock, so we can cut them straight away. If the appropriate customer approvals are in place it is possible for us to cut tools overnight.”
A big part of Brooks’ production process, is the use of a rotational method, which ensures a streamlined and efficient flow of parts. “Our forging capability now spans 27 cells. Each cell can function independently, offering flexibility and a large capacity,” explains Stephen. “This means that whilst we have one cell running, another cell can be set-up. This gives us extremely quick changeover times, as the production team can move from one cell to another.”
A cell consists of a proprietary machine – upset forging machine or power hammer, a heating source – furnace, resistance or induction heater, and a secondary operation machine – for clipping, bending or pressing, etc.
Being a hot forging manufacturer means that Brooks Forgings can produce significantly larger and longer parts compared to cold forming. “We have produced 6 metre long bolts, and we could do longer, although we might have to move some of our machines to accommodate,” says Stephen. “Hot forging gives us the ability to work in a greater range of materials, standard and exotic, gathering the material to achieve the desired shape and grain flow. In regards to fastener and fixing production it enables us to manufacture an almost limitless range of head forms in almost any length required.”
Brooks Forgings undoubtedly has the products and capacity to supply customers, but it is providing the overall service that it says enables it to stand out from the crowd. “We don’t just offer a product, we offer a service. For instance, we have the capacity to offer a stocking service by using our substantial warehousing facility that currently holds over 2,500 pallets of stock. This is typically for customers who look to save costs by committing to annual production volumes and a 12 month call off schedule,” mentions Stephen. “We have also invested in forging simulation software and 3D printing, which is excellent for complex products and helps us evaluate the customers design and whether the products are feasible for production. It is something we have offered for a couple of years and we are finding that more and more customers are taking advantage of this service.”
With everything in place, the final step for Brooks Forgings is raising its profile within the market. “Our aim over the next five years is to grow internationally and export a lot more. We need to raise awareness with new customers, and existing customers, of the full range we are able to produce. Our website does an excellent job of explaining the diverse range of products and capabilities we are able to offer. We also have some excellent videos on the manufacturing process and one of the most extensive component image galleries in the industry today.”
Stephen closes: “We are very proud to be a UK manufacturer and the UK has always maintained a very good reputation for quality and service in the industry. I believe that our unique ability, processes, and product diversity, puts us in a strong position. I encourage everyone to please visit our website to view more information regarding our 20 manufacturing processes and diverse range of products. It features over 2,000 images and truly showcases our full capability”
Having joined the magazine in 2012, Claire developed her knowledge of the industry through the numerous company visits, exhibitions and conferences she attended both in the UK and abroad.
Responsible for social media and the online platforms, Claire prides herself on keeping readers well informed and up to date with the latest industry news.