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15th Annual Census Of North American Forging Operations

March 2, 2007
The 2007 edition of our exclusive industry census counts 368 forging operations in the United States, plus 21 more in Canada, and seven in Mexico.
This census report is the 15th edition in an annual series developed and presented by FORGING magazine. the objective of each census has been to identify and count plant sites that forge metal in north america, on a commercial or captive basis. FORGING undertakes this census project because there are no other sources that count both jobbing and captive forging operations, to determine at industry totals.

The U.S. Dept. of Commerce collects information about forging operations, as do government agencies of Canada and Mexico, 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).

But, non-job-shop plant locations with forging operations are classified according to those sites' major endproducts. This means that captive forging departments of manufacturing operations that produce forgings for their own use are not counted by the governments in the two forging NAICS groups. Data concerning these forging operations are "buried" in other classifications, such as the databases for 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

To compile data for the North American forging industry census, we begin with FORGING's circulation records. This database is maintained on an ongoing basis by asking a lead subscriber at each forging location to complete a questionnaire with basic qualifying information about that plant location. In compiling the census each year, we re-check that information and augment it with data from other sources, including information published by those companies.

The magazine is distributed to someartisan "blacksmiths," but we do not include these operators 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 has been made to remove from our census count any records of forging companies that ceased operations during 2006.

Where they are, and what they do
The 2007 Census includes data on 368 forging locations in the United States. Our tri-color U.S. map shows how forging operations are distributed by state. The 10 largest forging states, that is, the states with the largest numbers of forging operations, are shown in tan on the map; the next nine 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 attempts 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.

Data on "Primary Metal Forged" 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 is reported as the primary metal at 191 plants, and among the metals forged at 277 total plants. Alloy steel was indicated as the primary metal forged by 74 plants, and as one of the metals forged by 253 plants. While only 18 U.S. forgers claim stainless steel as their primary material forged, our research shows 156 shops forge it along with other metals.

The number of closed-die forgers dominates the industry as the primary forging method, with 269 plants identifying closed-die forging as their main focus. A total of 68 plants reported that they were primarily involved in open-die operations. Forgers with some closed-die capability number 282, while 122 have open-die forging capability. Another 19 units claim ring rolling as their primary forging activity, while 55 companies indicate some ring-rolling capabilities. Other forging methods are claimed as the primary process at three locations throughout the United States.

A cautionary note to readers who are tempted to compare data from one year to the next: We do not prepare such comparisons because we find that many changes in the totals 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 34 of the 50 states are home to at least one facility where forging operations are performed, but the bulk of the industry is concentrated in the area surrounding the Great Lakes.

Ohio may be the industry's "center of gravity," with 63 forging plants, or 17.1% of the nation's forging units, according to our data. A six-state region consisting of Ohio and its five contiguous neighbors — Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky — accounts for 45.4% of the country's forging facilities. If the region is expanded to include New York, Tennessee, Illinois, and Wisconsin, that figure jumps to 66.0% of U.S. forging operations.

Ohio includes 50 shops that report that they primarily perform closed-die forging, while 11 operations in the state claim open-die forging as their primary process. Ohio's neighbor Pennsylvania is home to 41 forges, which is 11.7% of the census totals. Twenty-two operations claim to be primarily closed-die shops, 14 are open-die shops, and four are primarily seamless-ring rollers.

The other three states in the forging indstry's "top five" are Illinois with 39 forge shops, Michigan with 35, and California with 31. In Illinois, 34 shops perform primarily closeddie forging, five do open-die forging, but none report that they are primarily a ring-rolling operation. Michigan has 28 shops doing primarily closed-die production, four doing mainly open-die production, and one that is primarily a ring roller. California has 23 primarily closed-die shops, two that are mainly open-die forgers, and six that are ring rollers.

Rounding out the top 10 forging states are, in order: Texas, Indiana, New York, Wisconsin and North Carolina. The distribution of forging operations in these states is provided in the table of primary forging processes.

Canada and Mexico
Our study of the North American forging industry identifies 21 forging locations in Canada. Of these, 17 indicate they work primarily with closed-die forging, two say they are mainly open-die forgers, and one is primarily a ring roller.

Carbon steel is the primary metal forged by 14 shops in Canada, six more primarily forge alloy steel, and one works mainly with brass/copper.

Ontario has 16 forgers, of which 15 focus on impressiondie forging, and one does mainly ring rolling. Elsewhere in Canada, the numbers of forgers are: Alberta, two; Quebec, two; and Nova Scotia, one.

The FORGING circulation database indicates that there are seven forging operations in Mexico, with just one focused on rolled-ring production, and the balance performing closed-die forging.