Originally formed in 1897 and boasting over a century of manufacturing expertise the company continues to design, manufacture and offer services for a range of high-pressure seamless steel gas cylinders.
Gas cylinder manufacture is essentially a quality critical metal-forming process. Chesterfield’s recent story is one where foresight and a lot of hard work transformed a traditional metal-forming business, facing closure, into a modern company with a bright future, re-located in a new factory, in the appropriate setting of Sheffield – Britain’s ‘Steel City’.
Product range and supply
Chesterfield’s product range varies from 0.5 litre capacity to 2600 litre capacity.
At the lower end – a cylinder that sits easily in the palm of your hand, forged from seamless tube, with a 0.5 litres capacity and used for aircraft systems operation.
At the other extreme, Chesterfield is one of only six engineering concerns worldwide which can produce ultra-large cylinders in high strength chromium molybdenum alloy steel up to 12 metres long, with a capacity of up to 2600 litres, operating at pressures up to 600 bar. Production is going flat out for these larger sizes to meet a record order book – fuelled largely by the offshore oil and gas industries’ demands.
Chesterfield’s ‘jumbo’ cylinders form a critical part of the anti-heave motion compensation systems that keep the drilling rigs operational in the swell of the sea. The cylinder array literally acts as the energy-absorbing buffer to the force of the waves. Other similar cylinders are used for bulk storage of diving gases, or for actuation and emergency breathing in escape systems.
The company also supplies to the world’s navies with large diameter cylinders particularly for submarine ballast systems, and many uses on surface vessels, including back up to hydraulics and valve actuation.
A further regular application is for hydrogen cylinders for power generation cooling systems, where the company’s pioneering materials research on combating the effects of hydrogen embrittlement and stress corrosion cracking has made it a world leader in supplying high-pressure cylinders conditioned for this market.
Management buy out
In early 2004 the Special Products Division of Chesterfield Cylinders was facing closure. The landlord wanted to develop the site in Chesterfield for housing – even though the company had continuously occupied it since 1897. The German owners, Euro Cylinder Systems, decided not to undertake the risk of moving the business to another site, even though the business was profitable.
The management team of the Division launched a Management Buy Out (MBO) and bought the company in August 2004.
During June 2005 the company relocated its manufacturing facility to Sheffield and benefits from a good transport and manufacturing infrastructure in the surrounding areas.
Chesterfield’s manufacturing is now less dependent on flow-lines, each cylinder being truly ‘special’ in its individual treatment and handling requirements. But that did not prevent the company gaining great benefit from a new ‘clean-sheet’ relocation. The plant layout could be optimised for improving production efficiency and – just as importantly in the current period of high demand – shortening delivery lead times.
There is a small flow-line handling the small cylinders, as well as the authorised re-testing and reconditioning facilities which moved with the company, and where thousands of industrial sizes do still arrive. Many are more than 60 years old and were made by Chesterfield – a fact substantiated by the vast and historic cylinder manufacturing records archive which was acquired in the MBO.
Managing Director, John Hayward, lead the buy-out with four colleagues, each of whom headed up a key function in the former business.
John Hayward said, “Many companies go through an MBO and move site. What I believe makes Chesterfield stand out is the way that the company has grown since the MBO and how the company has managed the growth.”
“We still continue to trade under the Chesterfield Special Cylinders banner and we are looking forward to adding to the group when the right opportunities arise. Our target is to have a £40m turnover group within 5 years.”
Other services at Chesterfield
•Reconditioning/Retest/Recertification: High pressure seamless steel cylinders require statutory retesting at periodic intervals. Chesterfield Special Cylinders are in a unique position to offer additional recommendations and services over and above the minimum requirements to maximise the performance and life of the cylinder.
•Test Certificate/Drawing Archive: Chesterfield Special Cylinders Ltd retains the historical archive of all design drawings and cylinder certification from the previous periods when trading as Chesterfield Tube Company, TI Chesterfield, UES, UEF and ECS Chesterfield Cylinders.
•Transportable Gas Trailer Refurbishment: A complete trailer refurbishment, coordinating the retest/rectification of the cylinders and the refurbishing of the chassis and running gear.
•Technical Design Service: An extensive knowledge of international design codes/standards, material specifications and experience working with third party approval bodies.
•Industrial Gas Stock Cylinders: hold stocks of commonly used industrial type gas cylinders available in small quantities.