Expert Details

Expert in Aluminium Wire Production and Products

Expert ID: 726399 United Kingdom

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Expert graduated in Metallurgy at the University of Sheffield in England and went on to complete a PhD in the thermodynamics and electrochemistry of high temperature, pseudo refining reactions. His first role in industry required the use of this electrochemical knowledge in a technical function in a factory making Ni-Cad batteries.

Following this short spell in batteries, Expert has worked for 30 years as a technical/manufacturing person in the aluminum industry. This history has been dominated by involvement in the production of aluminum alloy wire. 25 years was spent at one company, the biggest wire mill in the world, which was the only wire mill to make aluminum for all applications. Part of the Alcan Group, up to 1998 the plant made its own raw material by rolling rod from cast billets on a hot mill. These lengths of rod were then welded into large jumbo coils for further processing. The design of the rolling passes was critical to the success of each alloy and this demanded a close knowledge of aluminum metallurgy and hot processing of low and high strength alloys. Wire was the key output of the plant and, after about 8 years in a production capacity Expert moved to the job of Technical Manager and later Technical Director. Wire was not an end-product in itself and a Technical Manager had to deal with all downstream applications.

The main output of the plant, over 50% in volume and turnover, was overhead conductor. Here the pure aluminum or alloy wires were drawn onto reels and stranded into various standard conductors for electrical transmission and distribution. Normally, aluminum wires were used over a stranded steel core - ACSR conductors - but aluminum alloy conductors existed as stand alone conductors with up to 91 wires. Electrical conductors were supplied to local and national utilities and, as Technical Director, it was necessary to sit on the National and European Standards Committees. The company was the world leader in the development of new alloy conductors to try to get more amp capacity out of existing lines. This was done by creating new versions of existing alloys and then designing a heat treatment to get the optimum conditions of conductivity and tensile strength in the wires before stranding. The plant serviced requirements up to 400 kV.
Later, the company bought its main competitor, another conductor company which was the first to design and supply Optical Ground Wires (OPGW conductors). This meant learning a whole new technology because OPGW conductors are always used to replace existing ground wires and design for strength and resistance to lightning strikes was of paramount importance. The facility already had a superb design function but the skill was to make the lowest cost design which exactly fit the existing framework of the traditional lines, thereby saving the customer a lot of money.
After leaving this organisation and setting up in business as a consultant, Expert stayed in the industry and has inspection contracts with utilities responsible for electrical transmission. In this function he is involved in type-testing of new conductors, including also testing of insulators and conductor fittings. This testing involves a presence at high-voltage corona and radio noise testing - usually this includes simulated lightning strikes in order to assess the resistance to damage of the glass or porcelain insulators.

Another major product of the wire company was MIG and TIG welding filler wires. Here the alloys were drawn down to standard welding wire sizes, usually including a shaving step to remove casting and rolling debris. Customers were international welding houses who supplied, in turn, OEMs who could be welding anything - very important in Europe were the train rolling stock, shipbuilding and truck body industries. It has to be said that there were many quality issues, where a batch of wire would be suitable in one application and then not in another. Expert persuaded the company to buy a MIG welding gun, taught himself to weld and developed in-house weld testing so that each batch of wire was shipped with its weld-test parameters. This did not solve the whole problem because welding is a very creative science but it did impress most big customers because if Expert could weld successfully, then skilled trained welders should also be able to do so using the same filler wire.
Critical to the performance of the welding filler wire was the design of the drawing and shaving process. The in-house weld testing allowed a much closer control of production. The quality of filler wire is not easy to test and certainly not easy to see but machine operators who swore that their production was of the best quality could easily see when it failed to produce a good weld. This helped a lot with the management of the department.
The plant produced wire for many other applications which cannot all be mentioned. Examples of end-use industries were: vacuum metallising for food packaging, high purity aluminum for vacuum deposition in electronics, wire for staples and food clips.
Another major area where Expert worked was with wire for cold heading to be used for rivets and screws and bolts in automotive and aerospace industries. The plant was approved for the manufacture of rivets for civil aeroplanes and had to maintain strict quality systems to get this approval. Expert was involved in the specification of Al-Li 'super light' rivets for military helicopters and these rivets were rolled and drawn in the factory. However, volumes for aerospace were low and rivets and screws for cars were more important. Again, quality systems were critical and the submission of PPAPs was always necessary when a design change was required.

Finally, another critical application for the aluminium wires was in thermal spraying. As a wire producer, this was a fairly routine undemanding market but when Expert became freelance, he saw opportunities to go upmarket in a rather staid and dull industry. He saw the possibility of designing new alloys for special thermal spraying applications, one for the cathodic protection of rebars in reinforced concrete and one for the spraying of non-corrosive, high-wear, non-slip walkways and roadways. It was necessary to persuade a company to produce these alloys and the only way was to relearn corrosion science. In fact the electrochemistry of battery manufacture is the same as corrosion but in reverse so it was easy for Expert to relearn this science.
Expert became an expert on galvanic protection and joined NACE, the (US) National Association of Corrosion Engineers, where he has been active on committees set up to write recommendations for galvanic protection of steel or reinforced concrete. Since then, he has become a member of the (UK) Marine Corrosion Forum and the (UK) Thermal Spraying and Surface Engineering Association. He regularly attends meetings and has presented papers on the new alloys - two further papers are planned for the NACE meeting in Houston, Texas in March 2011.


Year Degree Subject Institution
Year: 1975 Degree: PhD Subject: Electrochemistry and Thermodynamics of High Temperature Slag-Metal Refining Reactions Institution: University of Sheffield, England
Year: 1972 Degree: Bachelor of Metallurgy (B.Met) Subject: Metallurgy Institution: University of Sheffield, England

Work History

Years Employer Title Department Responsibilities
Years: 2005 to Present Employer: Undisclosed Title: Director Department: All Responsibilities: He is involved in the development of new production procedures in the aluminum wire industry. This includes the design of new alloys. A lot of disciplines are included in this umbrella of wire production: casting, rolling, wiredrawing, lubrication, powder production by atomisation, cold heading, thermal spraying, vacuum metallising. He also works with electrical utilities in the type-testing of new conductors, insulators and conductor fittings.
Years: 2002 to 2005 Employer: Sural Aluminium Title: Technical Manager Department: Technical / Manufacturing Responsibilities: Sural is now closed. It was based in a plant in Italy where ingots were melted and continuously cast and rolled into wire rod. Then there was a very large wiredrawing function which converted the rod into wire - also flat rolling for strip and a Conform machine for continuous extrusion. Expert worked between the mill in Italy and the wire plant in the United Kingdom, which was bought by Sural in 2002. Both plants have now closed.
Years: 1984 to 2002 Employer: British Alcan Wire Title: Technical Director Department: Manufacturing Responsibilities: This was the same factory in Wales, United Kingdom and went through a variety of name including, British Aluminium Wire and British Alcan. He was responsible for (personally) designing production routes, quality systems, joint developments with customers, in-house quality training.
Years: 1977 to 1984 Employer: Aluminium WIre & Cable Company Title: Production Engineer Department: Manufacturing Responsibilities: He was responsible for manufacturing improvements and design of process routes in the cable company, where PVC and XLPE power cables were produced. The plant has now closed.
Years: 1975 to 1977 Employer: Chloride Power Limited Title: Laboratory Manager Department: Product Testing Responsibilities: Responsible for routines in a small test lab where rechargeable Ni-Cad batteries went through various regimes of charge and discharge. Later for troubleshooting in the factory. The plant closed in 1977.

Additional Experience

Expert Witness Experience
Expert witness but not in trial proceedings. Expert works as a witness of testing for electrical utililities, visits suppliers to observe and comment on type-testing and sample-testing.
Training / Seminars
Developed a training course in aluminum wire production for companies which work in other industries but want to work in aluminum wire.
Vendor Selection
A great deal of expertise in finding customers for suppliers or suppliers for customers in the wire industry. Not surprisingly, end-users seem to buy from the same vendor by habit - they go to Expert if they want to change - this means on an international basis.
Similarly, rod mills are always looking for new markets or customers and they work with Expert to move into slightly new fields.
Marketing Experience
Expert is a on-stop-shop for people in the aluminum wire / rod / casting area. He knows all of the players in all of the countries.
Other Relevant Experience
He is very good in spoken and written German, able to make presentations in that language. Also good in written Italian (some spoken) and French (also some spoken.) He is a truly international person and travels for almost half of the year.

Fields of Expertise

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