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14th Annual Census of North American Forging Operations

14th Annual Census of North American Forging Operations

The 2006 edition of our exclusive census counts 375 forging operations in the United States, plus 22 in Canada, and at least a half dozen in Mexico.

The census reported here is the fourteenth edition in the annual series produced by FORGING magazine. The objective of each census is to identify and count plant sites that forge metal in North America on a commercial or captive basis.

We undertake this census project because there are no other sources that count both jobbing and captive forging operations to arrive at industry totals.

The U.S. government does not provide an overall forging unit count. Instead, it classifies plant locations with forging operations according to the major end-product of that site, based on the North American Industrial Classification System of numerical coding, known as NAICS.

Job shops that make forgings for sale are classified in two NAICS categories: iron and steel forgings (332111), and nonferrous forgings (332112).

However, captive forging departments of manufacturing operations that produce forgings for their own use are not counted by the government in those two forging NAICS groups. Data concerning these forging operations are buried in other classifications, such as motor vehicles, machine tools, agricultural equipment, plumbing fixtures, and especially hand tools, just to name a few. This dramatically understates the forging industry's size and importance.

For more information on NAICS, visit the U.S. Census Bureau website at FORGING's circulation database is the starting point for compiling our North American forging industry census. This database is maintained on an ongoing basis by asking a lead subscriber at each forging location to fill out a questionnaire with basic qualifying information about that plant location. In compiling the census each year, we double-check that information and augment it with data from other sources, including information published by the companies themselves.

The magazine is distributed to some artisan "blacksmiths," but we do not include them in our census results. We also make an effort to exclude non-forging locations of companies that forge metal, such as company headquarters at separate sites, even if personnel at those locations are involved in forging process development. Likewise, forged-part design facilities and users of forgings are not counted.

What we aim to do is include in the census all locations that conduct forging operations, whether on a jobbing/custom basis or for internal/ captive use.

Every effort was made to remove from our census count any records of forging companies that ceased operations during 2005.

Where they are, and what they do
The 2006 Census includes data on 375 forging locations in the United States.

Our color-coded U.S. map shows how forging operations are distributed by state. The top 10 states in terms of numbers of forging operations are shown in tan on the map, the next 11 states in terms of forging population are indicated in gray, and the remaining states with three or fewer forgers, or none at all, are indicated in blue.

Forging operations range widely in size, from small shops with fewer than 10 employees to large manufacturers that report more than 1,000 employees. Our survey of employment size is intended to focus on the number of employees involved in forging metal at a particular location, but it is evident that many of our questionnaire respondents provide employee size figures based on total company size or total number of employees at that location, whether or not they are all involved in forging operations. We have made an effort to identify and refine such answers.

Primary Metal Forged data reflects the metal most commonly forged at each shop, representing the industry on a unit basis. Many plants forge more than one type of metal, thus the All Metals Forged figures presented here do not equal the sum total of plants in each category.

The most commonly forged metal is carbon steel, which has been reported as the primary metal at 186 plants, and among the metals forged at 273 total plants. Alloy steel was indicated as the primary metal forged by 81 plants, and as one of the metals forged by 261 plants. While only 25 U.S. forgers claim stainless steel as their primary material forged, our research shows 152 shops forge it along with other metals.

The number of closed-die forgers dominates the industry as the primary forging method, exceeding the number of open-die plants by a great margin — 251 to 96. Forgers with some closed-die capability number 267, while 149 have open-die forging capability. Another 18 units claim ring-rolling as their primary forging activity, while 57 companies indicate some ring-rolling capabilities.

Other forging methods are claimed as the primary process at nine locations throughout the United States.

One more comment on these numbers: We do not compare data from year to year because some changes are due as much to improved research as to any actual increase or decrease in numbers of forging units.

Geographic concentration
Our census reveals that 39 of the 50 states are home to at least one facility where forging operations are performed.

Ohio is the center of gravity of the U.S. forging industry, with 63 forging plants or 16.8% of this nation's forging units, according to our data. Combined with its five contiguous neighbors — Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky — the region accounts for 44.8% of the country's forging facilities. If the region is expanded to include New York, Tennessee, Illinois, and Wisconsin, that figure jumps to 65.3% of U.S. forging operations.

Ohio includes 45 shops that do primarily closed-die forging, while 16 operations in the state claim open-die forging as their primary process. Ohio's next-door neighbor, Pennsylvania, is home to 40 forges — 10.7% of census totals. Nineteen operations are primarily closed-die, 15 are open-die, and four are, primarily, seamless-ring rollers.

Illinois has 44 forge shops, Michigan has 36, and California has 31. In Illinois, 33 shops perform primarily closed-die forging, nine do open-die forging, and one is primarily a ring roller. Michigan has 31 shops doing primarily closed-die production, four doing mainly open-die production, and one that is primarily a ring roller. California has 21 primarily closed-die shops, six that are mainly open-die forgers, and four that are ring rollers.

Texas shows 25 forging operations, including 13 that are primarily closed-die shops and nine that are mainly open-die shops. Two Texas plants claim to produce mainly seamless rolled-rings.

Indiana has 19 forgers, 13 of which are closed-die producers and five opendie forgers. We found no shops that are primarily ring rollers in Indiana.

Canada and Mexico Our study of the North American forging industry identifies 22 forging locations in Canada. Of these, 10 indicate they work primarily with closed-die forging, and two say they are mainly open-die forgers. There were no operations that claim to be primarily ring rollers in Canada in our database.

Carbon steel is the primary metal forged by 12 shops, seven more forge alloy steel, primarily, and two work mainly with brass/copper.

The province of Ontario has 16 forgers, of which eight focus on impression-die forging, and one does mainly open-die forging. In other provinces, the numbers of forgers are: Alberta, two; Quebec, two; British Columbia, one; and Nova Scotia, one.

The FORGING circulation database indicates that there are a half dozen forging operations in Mexico, with one focusing on rolled-ring production and the balance performing closed-die forging.

Forging Processes At U.S. Plants

Primary Forging Methods All Forging Methods
Process Number of Plants Process Number of Plants
Closed Die 251 Closed Die 267
Open Die 96 Open Die 149
Ring Rolling 18 Ring Rolling 57
Other 9 Other 17
Total* 374

* Plants specifying a primary forging process

Metals Forged At U.S. Plants

Primary Metal Forged All Metals Forged
Metal Number of Plants Metal Number of Plants
Carbon Steel 186 Carbon Steel 273
Alloy Steel 81 Alloy Steel 261
Stainless Steel 25 Stainless Steel 152
Aluminum 28 Aluminum 95
Titanium 21 Titanium 74
Copper-Base Alloys 20 Copper-Base Alloys 63
High-Temperature Alloys 10 High-Temperature Alloys 93
Total* 371

* Plants specifying a primary metal forged

Size Of U.S. Forging Companies

Number of Employees Number of Companies
1-19 4
20-49 20
50-99 59
100-249 60
250-499 67
500-999 62
1,000+ 15
Size Unknown 88
Total 375

Primary Forging Process

State Closed Die Open Die Ring Rolling Other Unknown Total
Ohio 45 16 0 2 0 63
Illinois 33 9 1 1 0 44
Pennsylvania 19 15 4 2 0 40
Michigan 31 4 1 0 0 36
California 21 6 4 0 0 31
Texas 13 9 2 1 0 25
Indiana 13 5 0 1 0 19
New York 5 6 2 0 0 13
Wisconsin 9 3 1 0 0 13
North Carolina 7 1 0 1 0 9

Primary Metal Forged

State Carbon Steel Alloy Steel Stainless Steel Aluminum Titanium Brass/ Copper High Temp Other/
Ohio 31 15 3 3 5 2 0 4 63
Illinois 31 8 1 1 0 1 1 1 44
Pennsylvania 18 10 2 1 1 4 4 0 40
Michigan 18 9 1 3 1 4 0 0 36
California 3 4 4 9 6 1 3 1 31
Texas 9 9 4 3 0 0 0 0 25
Indiana 16 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 19
New York 4 5 1 0 1 1 1 0 13
Wisconsin 8 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 13
North Carolina 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 9

Employment Size

State 1-19 20-49 50-99 100-249 250-499 500-999 1000+ Unknown Total
Ohio 0 4 7 13 16 5 3 15 63
Illinois 0 0 7 13 5 9 1 9 44
Pennsylvania 1 4 7 3 8 10 1 6 40
Michigan 0 2 8 5 5 4 0 12 36
California 0 3 10 5 6 1 0 6 31
Texas 0 0 0 4 5 7 3 6 25
Indiana 1 1 0 3 1 5 0 8 19
New York 0 1 3 2 0 3 0 4 13


0 1 1 1 4 3 0 3 13
North Carolina 0 0 0 2 1 1 0 5 9
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