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Kenny G
10-18-2012, 04:02 PM
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-3U-UEiMtTe4/UHhyPJeZv7I/AAAAAAAAAe8/3N_k-vO0lSY/s128/Sheffield%20Steel.jpg


Made in Sheffield: Betrayal of the factory that forged our Empire

It's that rare beast - a great British firm that still actually makes things. So why has Nick Clegg let the plug be pulled on a deal that could have made it a world-beater?

Even in our blasť world of special effects and 3-D virtual reality, this grimy old shed is as awesome and spectacular as anything Hollywood can produce.
It's a pretty big shed, actually - roughly the size of a middle-ranking international airport without windows. The semi-darkness periodically bursts into light as sheets of flame spew from the sides of furnaces the size of houses.
The doors of another three-storey oven swing open and a miasma of heat literally makes my hair stand on end. I am a good 100 feet away but this furnace has been cooking 12-ton steel columns at 1,600 degrees all day.

Molten steel columns are hoisted from the three-storey oven at Sheffield Forgemasters.

The glow is so intense it's hard to look as these red-hot lumps are hoisted off to a hammer press the size of a brontosaurus which bashes them into parts for a Chinese power station.
Why have I picked one of the hottest days of the year to walk inside a man-made volcano?
This Old Testament scene of fire and thunder is the Heavy Forge at Sheffield Forgemasters, the place which makes Really Big Things That Make Other Big Things.
It recently produced the biggest bit of steel ever cast in Europe - a 350-ton widget for a German steel mill which produces oil tankers.
If this place had a motto, it would be: Think Big.

Visit the South Machine Shop. At a quarter of a mile long, it is considerably larger than Harrods (and there is a north Machine Shop, too).

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-EKNyKoPjuqA/UHxzs5Y4oLI/AAAAAAAAAf4/vUM0ZCAQp-Q/s128/image003.jpg

Massive machines: The 10,000 tonne open die hydraulic press in the heavy forge. The sheer scale of the plant is breathtaking

There are shiny tubes as far as the eye can see, all of them so secret that they cannot be photographed. Spare parts for a Trident submarine, apparently.
This factory is not only a world leader in its specialist field. It is also the oldest steel producer on the planet.
In any other industrial nation, it would be regarded as a national asset. But not Britain.
In a move which has baffled even loyal supporters of the new coalition Government, Ministers have just cancelled an important partnership with this rare breed - a great British industrial success.
An £80million Government loan which would enable Forgemasters to build a crucial new bit of kit has just been torn up - on the grounds that we can't afford it.

Robbed of a bright future: The Government has cancelled a loan which would have put the Sheffield plant at the forefront of the industry

No matter that hundreds of jobs and billions of pounds in exports will now go to the only other plant in the world capable of producing these components - Japan Steel Works.
No matter that the decision leaves Britain at the back of a long queue of customers when the time comes to re-equip our own nuclear plants.
No matter that £80 million, while a lot of money, is merely one quarter of the cost of the 2012 London Olympic swimming baths - or, if you prefer, four-and-a-half Jonathan Rosses.
No matter, above all, that this was a loan - to be repaid with interest, not flushed away down another black hole of public sector ineptitude.
So what on Earth has happened? And what does it tell us about the Government's commitment to businesses that actually make things, as opposed to those which shuffle around other people's money?

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-vEj9EQqkCj8/UIBcafv5e5I/AAAAAAAAAg8/Jt_sO7mKRjs/s128/image004.jpg

Larger than Harrods: The South Machine Shop, at a quarter of a mile long, is enormous - and there is a North Machine Shop as well

This company has been making steel for more than two centuries, ever since Edward Vickers found a new use for his Sheffield water mill in 1805.
By 1865, the business had moved here to the vast River Don Works, producing much of the steel which built the British Empire.
Come the start of World War II, this was the only place in Britain capable of producing the crankshafts for Spitfire and Lancaster engines. Victory was forged in these furnaces.
But while other British industrial giants withered and died in the post-war battle for global trade, this one carried on. Vickers changed names and owners and went through nationalisation, privatisation and liquidation.
But after a management buyout in 2005, it is now owned by the workforce. And it is booming.
Its order books are full and £12 million of new machinery was recently opened by Prince Charles. It has just signed a £30 million contract with India and things are as bright as a red-hot girder.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-xGp0SUoRJ5Y/UHxz0vV7yYI/AAAAAAAAAgA/R4MCMg9JxdE/s128/image005.jpg

War effort: An example of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine crankshaft made in Sheffield. The shafts were used in Spitfire fighters and Lancaster bombers during the Second World War. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvYQ5YjFn1U

But the management has spotted a crucial gap in the market. As the world turns to nuclear energy to reduce its carbon emissions and its dependence on other energy sources, a new generation of nuclear power stations is taking shape (30 are at the planning stage in America alone).
All of them will need mammoth pressure vessels at the heart of their reactors. But only a handful of companies are certified by the global watchdog, ASME, to produce these parts. Sheffield Forgemasters is one of them.
Demand for these crucial components should treble by 2020. Currently, there is only one Japanese plant which can build them and it cannot possibly cope with the demand.
So, Sheffield Forgemasters spent two years planning how to raise £140 million to build a 15,000-ton press capable of producing these gigantic components.
This was a suitably gargantuan project for a business with an estimated value of £40 million. But the nuclear stakes are colossal.

Kenny G
10-18-2012, 04:19 PM
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-Dc1ZSnNyj18/UHxz7_oBkRI/AAAAAAAAAgI/81LOZ3t2vlU/s128/image006.jpg

Automated: Staff in the control room of the works' 4,000 tonne open die press oversee the manufacture of steel roll

Once up and running, the new facility would employ another 180 people in Sheffield on top of the existing 800 workers (plus all the construction jobs involved). The company's exports would be up by £100 million a year.
Private backers, including America's Westinghouse Corporation, came on board with a large part of the money. Yet there was no viable deal with the banks that did not involve losing control of the company.
So, in its dying days, the old Labour Government came to the rescue. In March, the then Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, descended on Sheffield to announce an £80 million loan.
Needless to say, it looked very like a pre-election bung to 'Steel City'. Sheffield is an old Labour heartland where the Liberal Democrats - led by local MP Nick Clegg - have been making unwelcome progress in recent years.
But few imagined that the new coalition Government would abandon such a promising scheme on the new deputy Prime Minister's doorstep.
Mr Clegg's Sheffield Hallam constituency is a couple of miles from the River Don Works and many of his constituents work there.
However, just two weeks ago, the new Treasury team scrapped the loan as part of a £12 billion cull of Gordon Brown' s spending commitments.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EZGhRhIa0hk/UHx0DGdO2pI/AAAAAAAAAgU/vbzHncpgdxA/s128/image007.jpg

Early beginnings: The Bessemer converter casting pit at Yorkshire Steel and Iron Works at Penistone in 1940

Just weeks earlier, Mr Clegg had been on the steps of City Hall telling an election rally how his party would do wonders for Sheffield.
Now, his Government was pulling the plug on the biggest deal in town. So much for all that guff about 'new politics'.
At first, Mr Clegg suggested that the loan had been a Labour election bribe (he called it 'a calculated ploy').
Then, he suggested that the directors had only sought the loan 'because they didn't want to dilute their own shareholding in the company.'
In fact, the workforce had already agreed to give up 40 per cent of the business but could not surrender overall control.
The Cabinet, however, stood firm. Prime Minister David Cameron described the loan as 'not very well thought-through', while the new (Lib-Dem) Business Secretary Vince Cable declared: 'The Government cannot simply keep on writing out cheques.'
None of this would matter if Forgemasters was a clapped-out industrial basket case like Rover, which finally conked out in 2005 after years of eye-watering losses.
But, as everyone agrees, Forgemasters is a top company in good health. Take the industrial high priests at the CBI. When the loan was announced in March, the CBI said that it 'will enable a world-class manufacturing firm to become a major player in the nuclear supply chain at home and abroad '.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-G1Rz81pifdM/UHx0LnlOjvI/AAAAAAAAAgc/OmpZey_cuw8/s128/image008.jpg

Full steam ahead: Production increased rapidly with the massive Charles Cammell steel works in 1846

Only eight days before the loan was scrapped, Richard Lambert, the CBI's director general, visited Forgemasters and declared: 'The size and quality of the products being developed at Forgemasters is outstanding, and this expansion programme builds on that by making a real investment for the future.'
What does he think now? Having just announced he is stepping down amid rumours of a job in Government, he is strangely silent, leaving a CBI spokesman to trot out the ministerial line: 'Given the state of the public finances, the Government has many difficult decisions to make.'
The architects of Labour's original deal are as baffled as they are cross.
'It's so short-sighted,' says shadow Business Secretary Pat McFadden. 'The risks were being shared with private investors and we were gaining a serious international advantage in the nuclear supply chain.
'Besides, this was a loan not a grant. I agree with Vince Cable that we can't give loans to everyone, but this was a missed opportunity.'
At Forgemasters, I am given a guided tour but the directors are unavailable for comment. I'm not surprised. With a new Government in power, no one wants to bite the hand that might feed again in the future.
A spokesman can only repeat the company line: the news is a 'huge disappointment' but the company will 'engage constructively to explore other funding options.'

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TDxGg_Dp560/UHx0TN2yBjI/AAAAAAAAAgk/n8-VjMkNtOY/s128/image009.jpg

Post-war production: Despite a drop in demand after the war, the John Brown open atlas steel works in Brightside, Sheffield, was still going strong

On the streets of Sheffield, people are still astonished by the news. They accept that the days of state handouts are over but they can't see what the problem was with this deal.
'Here was a great chance to create something unique and put Sheffield back on the map,' says Craig Marston, 34, ex-RAF and retraining as a physics teacher.
His chum, Heath Winkley, 37, is in computers but has a father and brother in the steel industry. 'When I was young, our steel industry was taken for granted. Now it's clinging on but this could have given the UK a great niche in a world industry.'
I head inside the Kelham Island Museum, a lively whizz-bang memorial to Sheffield's industrial past. The contents range from early cutlery workshops to the biggest bomb of World War II, the ten-ton Sheffield-built 'Grand Slam'.
I stop to talk to a pair of model railway enthusiasts. John, a retired insurance broker, says he is a Tory voter and very pro-coalition.
'But I just couldn't believe the Forgemasters news. It really stopped me in my tracks. What's Clegg thinking of? Attack wastage, yes, but not growth.'
I turn a corner and there is engineering's Mona Lisa. It's the old engine which used to drive the hydraulic presses at the River Don Works. It's now the largest working steam engine in Britain, a mass of giant cogs and pistons rising up to the roof, all oil and polish.
It bashed out steel plate for the first dreadnought in 1905 and was still going strong until it retired in 1973. Now people come to see it whirr and hiss and do nothing.
For all that strife and hardship, we seem to love our great industrial past. So how can we be so neglectful of what should be a great industrial present?

Black_Moons
10-18-2012, 04:24 PM
Awesome story, Can we get links to the full size pictures? I would love to see them.

goose
10-18-2012, 04:31 PM
I take it Nick Clegg is your version of Nancy Pelosi?

Kenny G
10-18-2012, 04:37 PM
Awesome story, Can we get links to the full size pictures? I would love to see them.

Don't know if this will work but try: https://picasaweb.google.com/104237182476030179599/SheffieldSteel?authkey=Gv1sRgCJDHra_Er5nEvAE#

Kenny G
10-18-2012, 04:46 PM
I take it Nick Clegg is your version of Nancy Pelosi?

Something like that Gary. A Liberal in a coalition government that has run out of ideas of how to clean up the mess we're all in!!

rohart
10-18-2012, 05:02 PM
Very good exposition on the shortsightedness of the coalition. This government is pathologically opposed, as I feel most Tory governments have been in the past, to any government support for industry. It smacks of 'giving the workers a helping hand'.
Their attitude is 'why not let foreign money do the job', as that Indian did for the Corby steelworks.

What I can't understand is how they square this attitude with the fact that it's the political right who are generally more nationalistic, but this attitude is selling the nation down the river.

In this respect it is little different acros the pond. In general it's the republicans who are more protective of the nation, while their policy of small government is exactly the policy that allows China and other successful economies to encroach on both production of goods for US consumption and the ownership of US companies.

Meanwhile, British banks, who were bailed out to the hilt themselves, refuse to cough up the loans that industry needs. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which by either subterfuge or a stoke of luck has avoided losing their moneyspinner English outlets fo Santander, could get these guys going with a snap of their fingers.

oldtiffie
10-18-2012, 06:18 PM
If it could not survive competitively in this globalised new world we are in - it "goes" to those who can do it faster and cheaper - arguably as well or better too.

"Government assistance" is another way of propping up industries that are on their way out as well as "buying jobs" - all at (other) tax-payers expense.

"Government subsidy" is a way of Government "picking winners" (which usually ends in an expensive political and finacial disaster).

Its time to move on and put the past behind us.

Rosco-P
10-18-2012, 07:47 PM
If it could not survive competitively in this globalised new world we are in - it "goes" to those who can do it faster and cheaper - arguably as well or better too.

"Government assistance" is another way of propping up industries that are on their way out as well as "buying jobs" - all at (other) tax-payers expense.

"Government subsidy" is a way of Government "picking winners" (which usually ends in an expensive political and finacial disaster).

Its time to move on and put the past behind us.

It's time to move on....to what? Doesn't really matter to folks like you OldTiffie, you days in the workforce are long gone. What about everybody else? People under 40 or 30? Should they all go to university and learn HTML and Java and develop websites? Put the past behind us? Forget that we were a great industrial nation? Take a backseat to countries without fair labor laws or policies and no environmental laws?

oldtiffie
10-18-2012, 08:35 PM
It's time to move on....to what? Doesn't really matter to folks like you OldTiffie, you days in the workforce are long gone. What about everybody else? People under 40 or 30? Should they all go to university and learn HTML and Java and develop websites? Put the past behind us? Forget that we were a great industrial nation? Take a backseat to countries without fair labor laws or policies and no environmental laws?

People can't reasonaby expext thet in this day and age and likely tomorrow and the days after that too - to have a job of their choice with conditions and benefits that suit them to be there at their picking or with employers all lined up begging them to work for them (at a "name your own price/wages" basis etc.).

People have to be trained - and perhaps re-trained - several times over as the jobs market - what their is of it - demands over their working life (what there is of it).

Its a "buyers market" (employers) "out there" and some employers are doing it pretty tough too struggling to keep their head above water, their plants open and thier employees employed. In a lot of cases employees who are "put off" for one reason or another can go onto "Social Service" (aka "the dole") and some other all-be-it small benefits (for a while at least) whereas in some cases if an employer "goes under" he is bankrupted with little to show for it.

The opportunits are not all "bosses" as there are quite a few in the employee catetgory as well.

Many emplyers DO sell up for financial gain but that is a gamble that both employer and employee take.

"Corporatising" gains and "socialising" losses will not go away and has in large part brought many economies to their knees and potential bankruptsy with huge debts and little to show for it.

Anyone who thinks that there will or should be ample "machining" jobs in the future has to be dreaming - the poor numbers now will only get worse/less and there will be more psple looking/fighting for them.

People need to recognise that "re-training" (if you are adjudged as able/fit to be re-trained) is going to be a lot bigger part of the future than it is now.

Perhaps some people will never be able to be employed - for a whole lot of reasons - but it will not and is not limited to "workers" as many "professionals" are in a similar position with many more "thinking/designing" etc. jobs are being "contracted out" - and not just to "China" either.

Perhaps the days of a "job for life" with one employer are all but gone with more people working as "temporaries", "part time" or "(sub?) contractors" (who finish up when the job finishes) - all on short notice and all on an "hourly rate".

Bob Fisher
10-18-2012, 08:51 PM
The good lord help us if we ever have to wage a war against the folks that CAN make things and the only weapons we can muster are websites and lawyers. Maybe we can sue for peace! Bob.

Bill736
10-18-2012, 09:25 PM
The Sheffield story is indeed sad, but not unique in these times. I can well remember when General Motors was the world's largest company , and one of the most profitable. Now, they struggle to survive, using government loans ( make that taxpayers' loans) to stay afloat. And with our deficit spending, we're just printing "funny money" anyway. And in my experience, the quality of GM products since the mid 1990s has sunken lower and lower. I don't have any solutions; I just observe that times change .

J Tiers
10-18-2012, 09:52 PM
"Government assistance" is another way of propping up industries that are on their way out as well as "buying jobs" - all at (other) tax-payers expense.

"Government subsidy" is a way of Government "picking winners" (which usually ends in an expensive political and finacial disaster).

Its time to move on and put the past behind us.

I note that china definitely DOES subsidize industry, and has for many years. Of course, they WANTED to build up industry, and it is obvious that "we" do not.

China has "given" land to build factories, subsidized fuel costs, drastically enhanced and in part underwrote the import of tools and construction equipment to jump-start industry. And tax policy seems to likewise be tilted toward helping out industry.

But, I suppose that is just "assistance", "propping up industries that are on their way out", and no doubt the current state of manufacturing in china bears out your suggestions that government help is worthless and useless. All those thousands of newly empty factories, and starving, jobless, chinese people in breadlines..... all due to worthless government assistance.

But there is a funny thing about that..... certain entire product sectors are almost entirely made in china, being made virtually no place else on earth. Or sometimes being made in places which can offer even cheaper labor than china. most other sectors are substantially made in china. And those starving chinese are renting apartments and buying cars.

Perhaps there is a difference in the chinese vs roundeye definition of "jobless and starving"?

oldtiffie
10-19-2012, 12:10 AM
I note that china definitely DOES subsidize industry, and has for many years. Of course, they WANTED to build up industry, and it is obvious that "we" do not.

China has "given" land to build factories, subsidized fuel costs, drastically enhanced and in part underwrote the import of tools and construction equipment to jump-start industry. And tax policy seems to likewise be tilted toward helping out industry.

But, I suppose that is just "assistance", "propping up industries that are on their way out", and no doubt the current state of manufacturing in china bears out your suggestions that government help is worthless and useless. All those thousands of newly empty factories, and starving, jobless, chinese people in breadlines..... all due to worthless government assistance.

But there is a funny thing about that..... certain entire product sectors are almost entirely made in china, being made virtually no place else on earth. Or sometimes being made in places which can offer even cheaper labor than china. most other sectors are substantially made in china. And those starving chinese are renting apartments and buying cars.

Perhaps there is a difference in the chinese vs roundeye definition of "jobless and starving"?

In the nopt too distant past Goverments (national, state and local) virtually "bought" (ie bribed) large corporations with "red hot deals" with land grants, provision at little or no cost of utillies - gas, power, roads, rail, drainage etc. etc. - as well as subtantial "tax concessiojns/"holidays" - all at tax-payer expense.

They were classic cases of "buying jobs" - and votes - classic political pork-barrelling.

Some but not all "worked" with varying benefit to the local community - which rarely reached the "break-even" point.

Same applies to established companies who threaten to "leave" and have the clout and leverage to demand - and get - additional/improved "concessions".

All too often that employer is the largest for quite a way around and largely determines who works there (and who doesn't) at what wages, tenure and "benefits" (if any) largely on a "take it or leave it" scenario.

It is a classic "one" (maybe two or more) "company town".

So those tactics - quite legal mind you - are universal and not restricted to "advanced economies" and are not new - or in Asia either.

There will almost always be more people that there art jobs for them so those that have a job have to work hard(er?) to keep it and those that don't have a job either keep trying or give up. Not nice.

Those larger companies have an awful lot of political "clout" at all levels and cannot (and will not) be disregarded or looked down upon. They can effectively keep out any opposition or competition with all the "benefits" that goes with that.

We have it here in Australia as well - and have had for years.

Mark McGrath
10-19-2012, 02:37 AM
This is not news Kenny.This loan was cancelled back in the summer of 2010.
ISTR there was more to it than simple economics but can`t be bothered looking.
Forgemasters are famous of course for manufacturing the barrels for the Iraqi Supergun amongst other things.

mike4
10-19-2012, 03:42 AM
I would like to see anyone try to start a manufacturing plant anywhere today which made items with heavy machinery and required any large form of heat treatment plant as well , you wouldnt even get past the "enviromental impact study",let alone start any earthworks .

The green tape and red tape has almost killed any small business starting out.

If you even look like your machinery might generate noise ,smoke , heat , then you are stopped .

I too like to see natural areas , unspoilt wilderness , but dont try to return the whole world to that state as there could be dramatic changes to the lives of many.

Heavy industry and nature can co-exist , but if people want to work ,be paid , eat , just some of what is regarded as normal then its time for a lot of compromises.
Michael

Allan Waterfall
10-19-2012, 03:53 AM
If it could not survive competitively in this globalised new world we are in - it "goes" to those who can do it faster and cheaper - arguably as well or better too.

"Government assistance" is another way of propping up industries that are on their way out as well as "buying jobs" - all at (other) tax-payers expense.

"Government subsidy" is a way of Government "picking winners" (which usually ends in an expensive political and finacial disaster).

Its time to move on and put the past behind us.

I think you are full of it with that statement,you don't even live here so obviously the country you live in will not be affected.

The government of our country can always find money to give away in foreign aid,a lot of which ends up in back pockets,it's time we started spending at home instead.All the people that will be put out of work will no longer pay tax but will receive money instead in benefit hand outs.

Allan

oldtiffie
10-19-2012, 04:11 AM
A lot of those "loans" have to be backed by (more?) Government debt - read bonds - that are funded (and guaranteed) "else-where" at "favourable rates" over long terms - quite often from China or Japan - to fund the corporations requirements.

If the corporation defaults or is tardy the government (guarantor) may not have a sufficient claim over the corporations assets - and so the Government has to pay out the loan - or "re-finace" it (at higher rates).

There are desolate sites with abandoned buildings, slag heaps, polluted ground and aquaifers (rivers and streams too) as well as ghastly open cuts and abandoned mines that are subject to "settlement" all of which the corporation despite any promisdes it made, did not and will not clean it up and accept responsibility for it.

Needless to say many of those site may never be "developed" because of "clean-up" costs - so a new "green-field site is chosen instead.

The "clean up" costs will fall into the laps of the "tax-payer".

And so it continues.

And one of the main promises before it all starts is "jobs".

Pretty expensive "jobs" - hey?

oldtiffie
10-19-2012, 04:25 AM
Originally Posted by oldtiffie

If it could not survive competitively in this globalised new world we are in - it "goes" to those who can do it faster and cheaper - arguably as well or better too.

"Government assistance" is another way of propping up industries that are on their way out as well as "buying jobs" - all at (other) tax-payers expense.

"Government subsidy" is a way of Government "picking winners" (which usually ends in an expensive political and finacial disaster).

Its time to move on and put the past behind us.



I think you are full of it with that statement,you don't even live here so obviously the country you live in will not be affected.

The government of our country can always find money to give away in foreign aid,a lot of which ends up in back pockets,it's time we started spending at home instead.All the people that will be put out of work will no longer pay tax but will receive money instead in benefit hand outs.

Allan

Isn't it the truth though?

I don't recall saying that this problem was unique to the USA as many countries - here included - have similar problems - its all matter of size and degree.

"putting it in the past" (and hoping it will go away) just will not happen as at least some of it will be there to be "fixed up" at consideraable cost to the tax-payer - but I guess it will "create jobs".

Many of these problems have "very long tails" and will come back to bite or haunt us when we least need or expect it.

Rosco-P
10-19-2012, 08:01 AM
The good lord help us if we ever have to wage a war against the folks that CAN make things and the only weapons we can muster are websites and lawyers. Maybe we can sue for peace! Bob.

Perhaps we can take one of the Missouri class battleships out of mothballs. Being bombarded by shells comprised of many lawyers bundled together with strapping should scare any sane attacker into surrendering.

Grind Hard
10-19-2012, 08:40 AM
The good lord help us if we ever have to wage a war against the folks that CAN make things and the only weapons we can muster are websites and lawyers. Maybe we can sue for peace! Bob.

We were manipulated into the situation we're in now. For the longest time "they" couldn't beat us with military might, so they played us over the long-term... played to our base greed and love of quick-and-easy money.

Sell the company to "over there" for a quick billion and walk away? Sure why not! I got my billion dollars who gives a heck about the "people" who "worked" for me. I got mine they can find jobs elsewhere.

Company I walked away from recently has the same mentality "make it here? Why? We can BUY IT ELSEWHERE and get our profits the heck with the local workforce, neighborhood, tax-base and so on."

Where does it end? How does it end?

oil mac
10-19-2012, 09:58 AM
Glad to see your posting Kenny, But where have you been since the balmy days of the reign of our dear lady leaderette Namely one Margaret Hildegard Thatcher, & the tenure of all the other parties in this country who have in the last decades since, had a go at running this sorry A**E Mess,
All of them have gone down the road she set, Which was bash all manufacturing to bits, &put your faith in mammon, The stock exchange, greedy bankers, dishonest stockbrokers &lawyers etc, As for the workers & the general dogsbody on the street, Well they can take their own chance, Never mind the future which like the grim reaper is NOW!

There was a vast swathe of large forgemasters & similar type concerns , I note you are from Glasgow, Did you not remember the Parkhead works in Glasgow Sir William Beardmores huge empire? founded on castings up to 150 tons finished weight & huge 100 ton forgings also, I could go on & on about hundreds of otherbig factories, We have ended up as her nation of shopkeepers, Or should i parrot the academic who some years back likened the once proud U.K. manufacturing nation, as "A nation of hairdressers cutting each others hair with a pair of Chinese hair clippers"

oldtiffie
10-19-2012, 06:01 PM
It is not likely that the halcyon days of roaring-ahead manufacuture - or any thing like it - are coming back soon - or ever.

If that's so we might as well stop weeping for the past and what may have been and, like it or not, accept it for for it is and what it might be.

It would seem that "manufacturing" is the only class/type of employment in this sort of strife - but it isn't as many others who are also unemployed and lost previous good jobs could tell you.

The days of having Governments "take over and run" (ie "socialise/nationalise") industries are long gone if for no other reasons other than they were almost always a huge cost (read: loss) to the tax-payer and Governments who were inclined to and did "help out" are so deep in deficit that they are not only struggling to match income to expenditure (and look like being that way for a long time yet) are themselves deeply in debt and badly in need of "bailing out" and having to impose very severe "auterity" measures - which are NOT popular with their citizens.

Europe, the UK and the USA are cases in point and Australia might not be too far behind.

So the chances of an industry or group being virtually "too big to fail" (in a local, state or national context) might well be a thing of the past and they might have to sort their problems out for themselves or "go under" with job losses and all.

rohart
10-19-2012, 06:26 PM
It looks as if this discussion has polarised into those who want their government to have a stake, financially or just strategically, in the make up of the industry of their country, and those who want their government to positively withdraw from exerting any influence over the industry of their country.

I know which side of the fence I stand on. My country bankrupted itself during World War II, and after it our people and our government made the decision that government needed to take major control of a rebuilding of industry - to try to create the New World that returning troops their families deserved. This decision resulted in trmendous improvements in many industries - health, steel, mining, railways. Many of these structures have now gone, far various reasons, but we have the legacy that the idea that government can influence the industrial make-up of the country is still valid.

Those with the disease of aggressive apathy should step down so that those with an interest in how to exert this influence can debate the ins and outs of it without the constant and destructive background noise.

lazlo
10-20-2012, 04:37 AM
Meanwhile, British banks, who were bailed out to the hilt themselves, refuse to cough up the loans that industry needs. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which by either subterfuge or a stoke of luck has avoided losing their moneyspinner English outlets fo Santander, could get these guys going with a snap of their fingers.

Royal Bank of Scotland, as you probably know, failed in October 2008 during the great CDO/Credit Default Swap debacle. Same reason Bear-Stearns and Lehman went bankrupt: they were pedaling hundreds of billions in fraudulent CDO's, and got holding the bag...

That whole cluster-fuq with RBS, ABN Amro, Santander, and Bank of America makes me want to vomit...

RBS collapse: timeline
Royal Bank of Scotland's disastrous and ill-timed takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro set off a chain of events which led to its eventual collapse
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/dec/12/rbs-collapse-timeline

gvasale
10-20-2012, 07:48 AM
I don't remember if it was ever mentioned here that there is a 50,000 ton press at the Wyman Gordon (PCC Energy) plant in North Grafton, Ma. W-G (PCC Energy)also has operations in Scotland & China & Australia among other countries, from what one of their web pages states.

lazlo
10-20-2012, 09:08 AM
The good lord help us if we ever have to wage a war against the folks that CAN make things and the only weapons we can muster are websites and lawyers.

Yes, but consider the quality of the stuff "they" make. All their weapons will be painted bright orange and will self destruct after 30 minutes.

We just have to wait 40 minutes, and then carpet bomb them with lawyers and investment bankers :)

John Stevenson
10-20-2012, 10:02 AM
We just have to wait 40 minutes, and then carpet bomb them with lawyers and investment bankers :)

Can't wait for the day..............

oil mac
10-20-2012, 01:59 PM
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-3U-UEiMtTe4/UHhyPJeZv7I/AAAAAAAAAe8/3N_k-vO0lSY/s128/Sheffield%20Steel.jpg


Made in Sheffield: Betrayal of the factory that forged our Empire

It's that rare beast - a great British firm that still actually makes things. So why has Nick Clegg let the plug be pulled on a deal that could have made it a world-beater?

Even in our blasť world of special effects and 3-D virtual reality, this grimy old shed is as awesome and spectacular as anything Hollywood can produce.
It's a pretty big shed, actually - roughly the size of a middle-ranking international airport without windows. The semi-darkness periodically bursts into light as sheets of flame spew from the sides of furnaces the size of houses.
The doors of another three-storey oven swing open and a miasma of heat literally makes my hair stand on end. I am a good 100 feet away but this furnace has been cooking 12-ton steel columns at 1,600 degrees all day.

Molten steel columns are hoisted from the three-storey oven at Sheffield Forgemasters.

The glow is so intense it's hard to look as these red-hot lumps are hoisted off to a hammer press the size of a brontosaurus which bashes them into parts for a Chinese power station.
Why have I picked one of the hottest days of the year to walk inside a man-made volcano?
This Old Testament scene of fire and thunder is the Heavy Forge at Sheffield Forgemasters, the place which makes Really Big Things That Make Other Big Things.
It recently produced the biggest bit of steel ever cast in Europe - a 350-ton widget for a German steel mill which produces oil tankers.
If this place had a motto, it would be: Think Big.

Visit the South Machine Shop. At a quarter of a mile long, it is considerably larger than Harrods (and there is a north Machine Shop, too).

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-EKNyKoPjuqA/UHxzs5Y4oLI/AAAAAAAAAf4/vUM0ZCAQp-Q/s128/image003.jpg

Massive machines: The 10,000 tonne open die hydraulic press in the heavy forge. The sheer scale of the plant is breathtaking

There are shiny tubes as far as the eye can see, all of them so secret that they cannot be photographed. Spare parts for a Trident submarine, apparently.
This factory is not only a world leader in its specialist field. It is also the oldest steel producer on the planet.
In any other industrial nation, it would be regarded as a national asset. But not Britain.
In a move which has baffled even loyal supporters of the new coalition Government, Ministers have just cancelled an important partnership with this rare breed - a great British industrial success.
An £80million Government loan which would enable Forgemasters to build a crucial new bit of kit has just been torn up - on the grounds that we can't afford it.

Robbed of a bright future: The Government has cancelled a loan which would have put the Sheffield plant at the forefront of the industry

No matter that hundreds of jobs and billions of pounds in exports will now go to the only other plant in the world capable of producing these components - Japan Steel Works.
No matter that the decision leaves Britain at the back of a long queue of customers when the time comes to re-equip our own nuclear plants.
No matter that £80 million, while a lot of money, is merely one quarter of the cost of the 2012 London Olympic swimming baths - or, if you prefer, four-and-a-half Jonathan Rosses.
No matter, above all, that this was a loan - to be repaid with interest, not flushed away down another black hole of public sector ineptitude.
So what on Earth has happened? And what does it tell us about the Government's commitment to businesses that actually make things, as opposed to those which shuffle around other people's money?

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-vEj9EQqkCj8/UIBcafv5e5I/AAAAAAAAAg8/Jt_sO7mKRjs/s128/image004.jpg

Larger than Harrods: The South Machine Shop, at a quarter of a mile long, is enormous - and there is a North Machine Shop as well

This company has been making steel for more than two centuries, ever since Edward Vickers found a new use for his Sheffield water mill in 1805.
By 1865, the business had moved here to the vast River Don Works, producing much of the steel which built the British Empire.
Come the start of World War II, this was the only place in Britain capable of producing the crankshafts for Spitfire and Lancaster engines. Victory was forged in these furnaces.
But while other British industrial giants withered and died in the post-war battle for global trade, this one carried on. Vickers changed names and owners and went through nationalisation, privatisation and liquidation.
But after a management buyout in 2005, it is now owned by the workforce. And it is booming.
Its order books are full and £12 million of new machinery was recently opened by Prince Charles. It has just signed a £30 million contract with India and things are as bright as a red-hot girder.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-xGp0SUoRJ5Y/UHxz0vV7yYI/AAAAAAAAAgA/R4MCMg9JxdE/s128/image005.jpg

War effort: An example of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine crankshaft made in Sheffield. The shafts were used in Spitfire fighters and Lancaster bombers during the Second World War. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvYQ5YjFn1U

But the management has spotted a crucial gap in the market. As the world turns to nuclear energy to reduce its carbon emissions and its dependence on other energy sources, a new generation of nuclear power stations is taking shape (30 are at the planning stage in America alone).
All of them will need mammoth pressure vessels at the heart of their reactors. But only a handful of companies are certified by the global watchdog, ASME, to produce these parts. Sheffield Forgemasters is one of them.
Demand for these crucial components should treble by 2020. Currently, there is only one Japanese plant which can build them and it cannot possibly cope with the demand.
So, Sheffield Forgemasters spent two years planning how to raise £140 million to build a 15,000-ton press capable of producing these gigantic components.
This was a suitably gargantuan project for a business with an estimated value of £40 million. But the nuclear stakes are colossal.

Kenny , You may find that in the works of the Scottish Stamping & Engineering Co in Ayr (Neptune Stampworks) Ayrshire, they were also drop forging crankshafts for Merlin engines, during the 1939--45 war.

oldtiffie
10-20-2012, 05:30 PM
If I recall correctly, a lot of big and/or specialised machinery was bought in the UK (USA too?) by India and either shipped to India or in some cases they bought the whole plant and operated it "where is" and of course some was shipped to scrap (India and China mainly).

I am not sure of the details, but I recall a non-USA over-seas/foreign company bought a steel mill in either the UK or USA in the not too distant past and as I recall it was quite successful in operating and up-grading the mill.

I went back to the OP to remind myself of what caused the big Sheffield Forgemasters company to fail.

It seems that it was all to do with the UK Government cancelling/withdrawing the offer of a UKP80 million loan for development of a specific project.


In a move which has baffled even loyal supporters of the new coalition Government, Ministers have just cancelled an important partnership with this rare breed - a great British industrial success.
An £80million Government loan which would enable Forgemasters to build a crucial new bit of kit has just been torn up - on the grounds that we can't afford it.

That amount of money is really small potatoes at that level of Government and Commerce.

Perhaps the former (Labor?) Government offered it pre-election as a political gift/ploy and the new incoming (Tory?) government witdrew it for political reasons as well - who knows.

If the project was so important and potentiqally so very profitable why did the commercia/trading banks refuse the Sheffield Forgemasters loan application or did they know/sense that it was on the brink of collapse anyway with the risk of loss of the bank loan capital? Or did they have plenty of bad debts in that sort of venture already in that area?

Was going to the Government for "assistance" using the Government as a "Lender of Last Resort"? which if the company failed the "loan" would be a dead loss and if it could not re-pay the loan it may well have ended up as a "grant" (read: gift/write-off) with adverse political implications?

Perhaps it was also notice that any (more) proposals for "Government aid" would not be favourably looked upon.

How many similar industries in the UK generally or this area in particular are "on the precipice" and close to failure in the near future as well?

Who knows?

I thought it time to have a look at Wikipedia (what else?) to see if there were other issues etc. It seems that there was/is.

Sheffield Forgemasters:


Due to increasing demand for their specialist services, in 2010 the firm commissioned a new 4,000 ton forging press, with plans to increase the range of forgings they can supply.[5]

On 17 March 2010, Lord Mandelson announced that the UK Government would loan the company £80 million at a low 3.5% interest rate towards the design and building of a new 15,000 ton forging press (together with other investors).[6][7][8] The press, intended to give Forgemasters the ability to manufacture ultra-large forgings for the nuclear power industry, would allow the UK to use home-manufactured components during the building of proposed new nuclear power plants in the country. According to The Engineer, as of 2010, there was only one other manufacturer in the world, Japan Steel Works, with the adequate presses and certification able to manufacture all the required ultra-large forgings.[9]

Following the United Kingdom general election, 2010, held on 6 May, the new Government announced a Treasury review of all Government decisions on funding since 1 January,[10] aimed at reducing the country's budget deficit in response to the preceding financial crisis and concerns over sovereign debt, which led to a period of uncertainty about the expansion's future.[11] On 17 June 2010 Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced the cancellation of 12 projects totalling £2 billion agreed to by the previous Labour government,[12][13] including the £80 million loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.[14][15] The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable explained the reason was that the project required very large loans and promised extraordinary rates of return with little risk investment by Sheffield Forgemasters, and given the financial situation the government could not support this.[16]

In an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Government may reconsider loaning the company money for expansion.[17] However in 2011, following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the company decided to no longer try to finance a 15,000 ton forging press due to uncertainty about the future of nuclear energy.[18]

On Monday 31 October 2011, the Government announced new lending of up to £36m to the firm, as part of £950m of investment nationwide from the Regional Growth Fund for a variety equipment in areas like the melt shop, forge and the machine shops.[19][20]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheffield_Forgemasters

And to be fair-mined - I used "Google" too:

http://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&gs_nf=3&pq=sheffield_forgemasters&cp=10&gs_id=e&xhr=t&q=Sheffield+Forgemasters&pf=p&rlz=1R2IRFC_enAU360&sclient=psy-ab&oq=Sheffield+Forgemasters&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=7680231318a44bb0&bpcl=35466521&biw=1920&bih=884&bs=1

So all may not be as it seems.

http://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&gs_nf=3&pq=sheffield%20forgemasters&cp=8&gs_id=1f&xhr=t&q=lender+of+last+resort&pf=p&rlz=1R2IRFC_enAU360&sclient=psy-ab&oq=lender+o&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=7680231318a44bb0&bpcl=35466521&biw=1920&bih=884

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lender_of_last_resort

(Edit):

So it seems that Forge Master is in pretty good (certainly not too bad) shape and after the nuclear problem in Fukishima (Japan) and the shortage of the intended works that will flow from it that Forge Master no longer requires the loan for the original intented purpose.

It seems that the article that the OP posted in good faith was nothing but an unnecessary "hand-wringing" "wind-up".

oldtiffie
10-21-2012, 12:10 AM
It seems that these paragraphs from the OP are not true:


There are shiny tubes as far as the eye can see, all of them so secret that they cannot be photographed. Spare parts for a Trident submarine, apparently.
This factory is not only a world leader in its specialist field. It is also the oldest steel producer on the planet.
In any other industrial nation, it would be regarded as a national asset. But not Britain.
In a move which has baffled even loyal supporters of the new coalition Government, Ministers have just cancelled an important partnership with this rare breed - a great British industrial success.
An £80million Government loan which would enable Forgemasters to build a crucial new bit of kit has just been torn up - on the grounds that we can't afford it.

Robbed of a bright future: The Government has cancelled a loan which would have put the Sheffield plant at the forefront of the industry

No matter that hundreds of jobs and billions of pounds in exports will now go to the only other plant in the world capable of producing these components - Japan Steel Works.
No matter that the decision leaves Britain at the back of a long queue of customers when the time comes to re-equip our own nuclear plants.
No matter that £80 million, while a lot of money, is merely one quarter of the cost of the 2012 London Olympic swimming baths - or, if you prefer, four-and-a-half Jonathan Rosses.
No matter, above all, that this was a loan - to be repaid with interest, not flushed away down another black hole of public sector ineptitude.
So what on Earth has happened? And what does it tell us about the Government's commitment to businesses that actually make things, as opposed to those which shuffle around other people's money?

Perhaps it needs to be re-thought (and perhapd re-typed) - along with some other related text in the article - just to make things "right" and "up to date" - of course.