Steel Foundry

Driven by passion, pride, and innovation, Goodwin Steel Castings celebrates 140 years of success 

Goodwin Steel Castings (GSC) is the world’s foremost manufacturer of steel castings and fabricated assemblies for critical duty applications, which are supplied primarily to the nuclear, defense, construction, power generation, and petrochemical industries. The business prides itself on adding value to its customers by offering proprietary material grades with enhanced mechanical and metallurgical properties to withstand the most demanding conditions. 

Founded in 1883, GSC has succeeded by constantly innovating in its people, markets, and facilities to enhance its metallurgical knowledge. Originally iron founders supplying local industries around Stoke-on-Trent, England, the family firm has grown in terms of both size and capabilities. Today, GSC is still casting iron, but also excels in high integrity steel and nickel alloy-based castings, which are exported around the globe from its 14-acre site. 

As the founding subsidiary company of Goodwin Group, a diverse, family-owned collective of 23 mechanical and refractory engineering companies, GSC is a one-stop shop for any project that requires castings and can leverage relationships across the group to offer additional services. It works with its sister engineering and machining facility, Goodwin International, for instance, to supply machined castings from 20 kilograms to 40,000 kilograms and fabricated casting assemblies in a range of international material grades up to 100,000 kilograms. 

Brian Quinn, GSC’s Sales Director, joins us to discuss the company’s evolution. “I’ve worked here for more than 30 years, as have all the directors at the foundry, and there is certainly a culture of development within Goodwin that sees hard work repaid,” he reflects. “When I started out, there was no formal apprentice school, so I was trained by my supervisors, today we have a nationally recognized training school for apprentices. We are so proud of the young people coming through the training system, they are a credit to the team and themselves. It is a more formal route for qualification and there are plenty of diverse opportunities within the group of companies.  

Pushing the envelope  

“I started in the commercial team’s estimating department, before being transferred to the methods department where I designed casting methods for manufacture using computer-aided design (CAD) technology. In the early 1990s, computing times were challenging – to say the least – and simulation work could be time consuming, so as a team we operated a multi-shift system to ensure the foundry was fully serviced. I have no doubt my smartphone has greater computing power than I had when I first started out in the industry! However, of course, we now operate a much more technically advanced computer system supporting many of our sub-systems which help us service our clients’ needs. Information is key, and relevant current information has never been more important to performance in the industry. We employ dedicated software programmers whose input is invaluable to the smooth operation of the changing landscape of the foundry. 

“As my experience and understanding of casting manufacturing grew, I moved back to the commercial team, first as a Sales Manager and ultimately, I then became Sales Director,” Brian recalls. “Aside from computing technology, there have been significant changes over the years. To put it into perspective, the manufacture of a large net casting has risen from 5,000 kilograms when I started in 1989 to 35,000 kilograms today. We’re always pushing the envelope and advancing where possible, with additional facilities enabling the manufacture of larger castings, including lifting capabilities, heat treatment, and extensive non-destructive examination (NDE) testing to verify the integrity of the casting.  

Investment in people 

Amidst global skills and labor shortages, many traditional foundries are struggling to modernize, but GSC is certainly not faced with such a problem. Through continuous investment in its people, state-of-the-art technologies, and material research, GSC remains at the forefront of industry. Its in-house apprentice training program means the business boasts a young and dynamic workforce; the average age of its employees is under 45, with an impressive average tenure of 11 years. 

The scheme sees apprentices gain a BTEC Level 3 in the first six months of the structured four-year course through classroom and workshop experience. For the next 18 months, apprentices select ten modules from a choice of 25 options, all of which include classroom training, observations, practical experience, and an examination. Upon completion of the modules, they must choose an area to specialize in, where they are then trained on a one-to-one basis by experts in their chosen field.  

Circular economy recycler 

Defined as a ‘radical approach to future growth,’ the group-wide training model is designed to upskill individuals and inspire them to create products fit for the future. As one of the manufacturing industry’s most rigorous and sought-after programs, the scheme offers young people the possibility of a varied and rewarding career in building and designing bespoke technical solutions for customers around the world. However, what Brian and his team look for more than anything is a passion for success. 

It’s clear that GSC is a progressive business in many ways. In terms of environmental sustainability, the company is on target to become a totally carbon neutral foundry by 2030. It is a technically advanced operation using responsible procurement strategies and consuming an ever-increasing amount of renewable energy with locally sourced raw materials. 

By providing a low-carbon solution for the acquisition of equipment, GSC supports its customers’ own sustainability journeys as a core circular economy recycler. Specifically, one of its service divisions, Goodwin Alloy Products, specializes in the reversion of alloyed process returns, enabling customers to turn waste into usable feedstock. 

With a heritage of expertise and a team of dedicated and passionate individuals, GSC is embarking on its 141st year in business in a stronger position than ever. Its mission statement, that great projects start with great castings, is fitting considering the company’s long and storied history, and one thing is clear; whichever direction GSC grows in, its strong roots are sure to lead it to success.