In order to effectively counter the decline in shipbuilding and manufacturing which had begun to take its toll in Glasgow, Brown McFarlane diversified further with added value services (such as profile cutting) in the 1980s. Additional developments came in the form of its first state-of-the-art plasma machine, which was installed in 1995, followed by further equipment purchases and the total refurbishment of the Stoke on Trent warehouse in 2010.
The notable brand processes and distributes high quality carbon, alloy, stainless, duplex and super duplex steel plates in various dimensions and thicknesses, boasting one of the most widespread stock ranges available internationally. Focusing on highly specified products has enabled the company to become one of the world’s leading specialist steel plate distributors and traders. This highly reputable status, along with its expert team of experienced sales engineers and procurement specialists, ensures that Brown McFarlane remains unparalleled in its core market sectors: offshore, oil and gas, energy, mining and quarrying and general engineering.
Remaining completely committed to the provision of high quality products led to the ISO 9001 accredited company becoming one of the first steel stockholders in Europe to gain the prestigious ISO 14001 Environmental Management accreditation. Recently an extended range of HIC products, Super Abrasive, 11% to 14% manganese steel plate and enhanced property high yield plate for offshore industries has been added to its already extensive inventory of high quality carbon, stainless, duplex and super duplex standard and wide area steel plates to service a wide range of industries across the globe.
"Thanks to our many accreditations, vast stock range allied to the latest plate cutting technology and a rapid response and delivery period, we are able to supply high quality finished products to the world market in the shortest possible time frame. And time is a keyword in today’s challenging engineering environment. Modern plate processing equipment is capable of replicating drilled holes but at considerably quicker rates. A recent example being some screening plates which traditionally required 35 hours of machining time. By using Truehole plasma cutting technology we drastically reduced the production time to 5 hours, thus freeing up our client’s own equipment for other work and slashing his own outlay."
In regards to achievements, Brown McFarlane’s 125th year in the trade isn’t the only milestone that has been reached in current times. The structure of the business has recently changed, as Kenneth Brown, its 4th generation family member, has taken the decision to retire after celebrating 50 years of service in the industry.
When discussing future plans, Tim said, "That the company will be continuously upgrading and expanding its product range with the imminent arrival of 12-14% manganese work hardening plate and an increasing of its heavy S355 portfolio to include 300mm thick material as well as stainless steels and HIC resistant plate where the range has increased to 100mm and 180mm respectively to satisfy customers even more demanding expectations.
"Our investments in profiling equipment at our Stoke site exceed £3 million this year, with the addition of Infinity Plasma Profiling using an omnidirectional head on a 24m x 4.8m cutting bed. This technology will give our customers further design and fabrication options. Plans are also in hand for a further £1 million investment in equipment later in the year to ensure our supply promise of any component anywhere in the world within nine days remains a reality. Meanwhile we are making plans to enhance our unbeatable service package even further."
"Extensions to product ranges will continue and we are consulting with premier European steel mills about enhancements that can be made to product ranges for high specification uses. Currently the launch and development of Infinity Plasma cutting is very exciting as it can produce varied weld preps within a single operation which means complex bevel configurations are achievable to very fine and consistent tolerances enabling designers to rethink plate connecting practices."
"Ultimately, value added services will continue to be a pivotal part of our strategy moving forward and we will constantly invest in developing our profiling and finishing services for a more demanding customer base. Although the last 12 months have been increasingly difficult for the industry as a whole with the cutbacks in the UK oil industry, we are seeing a steady improvement in the Asian and Middle East markets. Finally, we are delighted to have been selected for this award and we are incredibly excited about the new challenges we’re helping many of your readership overcome."
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