Heat Treatment: A Critical Process that should not be an Afterthought in Large Engineering Projects

24 March 2017

If heat treatment technology has ever been perceived as an afterthought, well, nothing could be further from the truth. This is an essential process regimen, a series of techniques that equips metal parts with tailored material properties. Hardness is usually regarded as the primary reason for altering these already robust alloys, but that’s not always the case, especially in large engineering projects.

How Important is Heat Treatment Technology? 

Critically important, that would be the short answer. The construction techniques employed on large-scale building projects may use the latest construction techniques, the best welders and mechanical fasteners, but these framework assets don’t mean much without a properly heat-treated structural alloy. That metal cage is hard, workable, load capable, and entirely weather-resistant. Granted, the expert services of a top-notch machine shop are responsible for creating the high-tolerance profiles of the beams and support components, but it’s the heat treatment stage that ensures the base material is perfectly suited for the project.

Setting Process Priorities 

Just because the heat treatment phase is positioned at the end of the machining work, that doesn’t mean this result-critical stage should ever be postponed. We reschedule meetings and dental appointments, not a process stage that ingrains principal mechanical components with their fundamental physical characteristics. The project absolutely requires load-bearing structural parts that can endure, that can withstand projected stress levels. That’s a cardinal rule in this industrial domain, one that’s infringed when the project director doesn’t realise the importance of material altering technology. Basically, heat treatment determines the entire backbone of the structure, not just its finish or weathering properties.

Preventing Budget Blow-Outs 

If a project falls behind schedule, there are budgetary concerns to consider. Penalties may be incurred, so executives look for shortcuts. Oftentimes, the cutting budgetary blade slices the heat treatment work in two. The annealing and normalising stations are swiftly navigated, the quenching is incautiously concluded, and final tests are rushed. Certainly, this cut-back processing methodology cannot safely be employed within the framework of a large engineering venture, so the metal components are finished as ordered, but only by accommodating ballooning budgetary demands.

The resulting heat treated parts satisfy all project demands, so the alloy is mechanically and chemically acceptable. Still, the budget blow-out, the time constraint issues, perhaps even a question over the metal’s quality, all of these factors make the source heat treatment company look inefficient. In point of fact, this circumstance occurs through no fault of the heat treatment facility. The fault is in not comprehending the essential role of this processing stage, its place as a project investment, not an added expense.

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