Overcoming the economic downturn in the forging industry

 Properly managing necessary forging equipment repairs, rebuilds or remanufactures will keep the industry forging on even through the economic downturn.

During the current economic slump, the forging industry, like many others have experienced great shortages and disruption of the international supply chain. This has posed great opportunities for North American forging companies to regain the share of domestic customers and shorten lead times with onshore supply.

With this opportunity, it is imperative that forging companies prepare to ramp up domestic business. This means re-evaluating processes and determining new ways to improve and increase forging production efficiently. To safely upgrade production to meet demand it is necessary for forging companies to rebuild or even remanufacture their equipment to take advantage of high-production, labor-saving automation. 

At Ajax CECO Erie Press, we have the combined company experience of over 300 years in the forging industry to assist you with your needs to satisfy the growing demand while combating the labor shortage.

We have taken training and troubleshooting to a new level with our AR capabilities. This is to assist our customers in determining whether a complete rebuild is necessary or if we can make the necessary repairs to their equipment to support their needs.


Scheduled maintenance and repairs are necessary for the forging process to keep equipment up and running.

“The most immediate and economical option is to repair existing or out-of-commission forging units to get them up and running to spec with greater efficiency. This can be as simple as replacing parts that are worn, out-of-tolerance, or broken to bring the machinery back online,” according to Ajax CECO Erie Press.

Our merge of Ajax CECO and Erie Press Systems in 2019, under our parent company ParkOhio, has enabled us to be a one-stop-shop and North America’s largest OEM forging equipment supplier of forging press machines of different shapes and sizes for all types of forging.

“By acquiring Erie Press Systems, we expand our engineering, manufacturing, and service capabilities, control costs more effectively, and benefit from economies of scale when working with our core suppliers,” according to Ajax CECO Erie Press. “The goal is to become a one-stop provider of new, rebuilt, and remanufactured equipment for a variety of traditional and advanced forging applications, along with providing full service and timely support.”

Typically, the most required repairs on forging equipment involve commodity items that are common to every forging method including friction plates and driving plates for presses and upsetters, or piston heads, rods, rings, and packings for hammers. We recommend that these items should be secured in stock with a domestic supplier.

A major issue with forging equipment is that it is built to last, many machines that are decades old are still in operation today. The problem does not reside in the longevity of the forging machine itself; it is manifested in the components that are not able to maintain the same life span as the equipment. When these parts fail and are sent to a machine shop to be reverse-engineered, problems occur.

Machine shops often do not have access to critical specifications about high-wear parts including the material grade of the steel, the heat treatment process utilized, and tolerances that all were engineered specifically for that piece of equipment. This can cause the parts to prematurely wear or fail.

While it may seem that a machine shop is a more convent option for repairs, it is important to recognize the value of an OEM. A stocking option for long lead time items such as main gears, eccentric shafts, rams, etc. that are usually not stocked by forgers due to the cost, is a huge benefit of an OEM.

A custom stocking program with minimal up-front investment can eliminate months of downtime due to long lead time parts. Instead, multiple machines with parts of similar size and design can have the parts manufactured to a semi-finished state in preparation for use with any of the machines.


The expense and lead time associated with purchasing a completely new forging machine can be astronomical, and unbearable for some forging companies to undergo.

A more cost-effective and timelier alternative to a new purchase would be a rebuild of existing forging equipment. When the scope of work goes beyond repair, a machine rebuild is an economical, accelerated option to bring additional equipment online.

A benefit to this approach is that high-productivity, labor-saving automation can be added. Rebuilding equipment is a quicker and more economical option than repair and can also allow for the addition of high-productivity automation. According to Copeland, this process can take as little as a few months and should include the replacement of high-wear items such as bearings, bushings, seals, and liners.

At Ajax CECO Erie Press we have the capability to perform rebuilds on-site or we can relocate the equipment to our OEM facility, to reduce the rebuild costs. At our facility, we have the capability to completely disassemble, clean, and inspect the equipment.

Upon completion of the inspection, a report of findings is submitted to the customer that includes a list of missing components as compared to the “as-built” Bill of Material. The report also includes findings of concern that might impact operation and a description and pictures of the general condition of the parts.

This comes along with a general scope of work and price estimate for the rebuild and recommissioning of the machine.


If the inspection findings conclude that the machine requires more extensive work, remanufacturing the equipment can still save time over buying new.

Remanufacturing can be defined as stripping down the machine to the cast frame and replacing all the internal parts. With a remanufacture, you save time over having a new frame casted. Remanufacture can be completed faster than buying new at about 85% to 90% the cost and would usually carry a new machine warranty.

Alike a rebuild, remanufacturing machinery will allow for the implementation of automation to the pre-established equipment. Many of the tasks that are performed manually – such as moving heavy steel rods, pipe and other stock in and out of equipment – can be automated.

Automating some of the tasks traditionally performed by human operators – such as moving heavy steel rods, pipe, and other stock in and out of equipment – can increase productivity from several hundred pieces per hour up to 3,000, while also creating a safer environment for forging operators and allowing the plant to maintain recommended social distancing.

A critical challenge forging shops face is shutting down the line for repairs for any length of time. However, we as the equipment OEM can work with forgers to develop a plan to minimize down time. We do this by reviewing the machine’s BOM, reviewing past repair orders and manufacturing key components that will need to be replaced.

This activity is especially useful to include the OEM in on. Typically, the OEM would maintain the original design specifications, critical materials, and clearance specifications to jump on repairs or rebuilds and quickly get the work done.

At Ajax CECO Erie Press, we are the industry experts when it comes to information on your machines. We understand the critical data on high-wear parts, the material grade of the steel, the heat-treating process that was used in manufacturing it, and the required clearances that were used in the engineering of your forger. These are all necessary components for a quality repair, rebuild, or remanufacture. This information isn’t inherently understood by anyone other than the OEM.

If you are interested in our stocking program or want to discuss a repair or rebuild for your forging equipment, contact us! 

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