Latest Branch News

News from the Institute Branches – June 2019 

| Yorkshire Branch
Tour of Stocksbridge Steelworks

John Moody reports

The weather has been dry and pleasant in Yorkshire for quite some time; however, on the evening of the Branch visit held on 25 April 2019, the weather changed and we experienced heavy rain. With good fortune, we missed the showers as we walked between the parts of Stocksbridge Steelworks.

Before the tour commenced, there was a brief presentation on Liberty Steel, the current owner of Stocksbridge Steelworks. Liberty Steel has a GREENSTEEL vision for competitive, low-carbon and sustainable production, with the low carbon of course referencing the environmental carbon footprint rather than the carbon content of the steel. Stocksbridge is part of the Speciality Steels division, which offers alloy and stainless steel grades. In 1935, Silver Fox Stainless Steel was introduced. The name ‘Fox’ comes from Fox Valley, where the steel works is situated. The products are used in the aerospace, oil & gas, industrial engineering and bearings sectors, as well as in the manufacture of bright-bar, narrow-strip and niche engineering applications for customers around the world. Liberty Speciality Steels has a presence in America, Europe, the Middle East, India and China.

After being kitted out with personal protective equipment (PPE), the tour commenced and involved being escorted across the road, followed by a steep walk uphill to the first part of the visit. We were guided by Liberty Steel’s NDT Level 3s, who had extensive knowledge of the steel-making process and associated NDT. There were two ultrasonic immersion tanks in this steel mill, one of which was being used to test a large round section. There were other finishing processes being undertaken in different areas of the mill. Everything was well ordered and clean considering it was a working steel mill. We then returned to the main part of the steel works. After another walk, this time on the flat, the group was taken into another mill and up some steps. From this vantage point the ingots could be seen being loaded and sent to the soaking pits, where they are heated up to orange-hot temperatures in excess of 1400°C. When up to temperature, the ingots are taken from the soaking pits and the rolling commences. The ingots are passed back and forth between the rolls, reducing the cross-section and elongating the piece. They are rotated 90°C between passes and can be rolled into whatever section is required. Processing between rolling includes scarfing, which is a particularly spectacular process in which the outer layers of the ingot are rapidly burnt off, resulting in a large amount of noise and sparks. Most of the old control pulpits are no longer used, as there is a super pulpit that covers all of the operations in use. This has banks of monitors and the operators control all aspects of the processes from a clean and comfortable environment. Some human input is required with the hard stamping of the final sections at one of the ends with a stamp and hammer; this is a two-person job next to the hot sections. It was very interesting for those who had not seen the process before, while for others, like me, who have worked in the steel industry, the limited number of people present, the increase in automation and the overall cleanliness were significant changes.

It was very interesting to see the way in which steel scrap is recycled into high-end steel products that are then further machined into top-end engineering products.

| Yorkshire Branch
Potential for online learning in NDT

John Moody reports

Even with the threat of an Annual General Meeting (AGM), the Yorkshire Branch still managed to attract 14 people to the last meeting of the season, which was held on 7 May 2019. The presentation given was titled: ‘The potential for online learning in NDT’ and the presenter was Chris Kirby of IMechE Argyll Ruane, who provided a room and refreshments, which were greatly appreciated.

Chris emphasised how much of a commitment Argyll Ruane has made to putting suitable material online and he recognised that there will be an ongoing refining process to improve the product. Currently, Argyll Ruane has Level 3 courses available online and in the classroom or through blended learning.
  • Benefits: accessibility, low cost, flexibility, a self-paced approach, an online forum, progress tracking, adaptivity, reliability, high quality and global reach.
  • Core features: theory only, blended learning, access for a specific time, logging of training time, progress monitoring and exams at Approved Exam Centres.
  • Processes: booking, review of application, access through a secure login, acceptance of examination photo ID and provision of proof of training certificate.
  • Content types: high-quality theory, animation, images and videos, PDF downloads, continuous assessments, timed assessments and definitions.
  • Online forums: replicate the training environment and allow students to ask tutors and other students questions and begin discussions.
  • Customer feedback: Level 3 – good feedback.

IMechE Argyll Ruane is currently offering PCN Level 3 basic, main method, procedure writing, product technology, refresher courses, ICorr recertification and transition. Future improvements will include the courses becoming more interactive and an increase in the range of courses offered.
At the end of the presentation, the audience discussed the option of online blended learning and some of the old-school attendees were very dismissive, stating that they preferred an instructor and pieces of paper; we even got to mention the Second World War and candidates at CSWIP. The discussion went on for as long as the presentation, showing the level of interest and strong feelings people have on the subject.

We also held the AGM and all of the posts were filled without any arm twisting.

We hope to see you all next season. If you have any ideas for meeting topics or visits, please contact John Moody, at: