Since its founding in 1898 by brick manufacturers who saw a need to apply scientific methods and insights to manufacturing, The American Ceramic Society has served as a unique meeting point for manufacturers, suppliers, vendors, researchers, professionals, and students to exchange ideas, solve common problems, and build business relationships. ACerS is a proud founding partner of Ceramics Expo, which comes to Cleveland, Ohio, April 28–30. Presented by Smarter Shows (Brighton, U.K.), the inaugural trade show includes a free-to-attend exhibition and two-track conference, providing a “one-stop” marketplace for all of the raw materials, equipment, machinery, and technology used within the ceramic manufacturing supply chain.
Over the next weeks leading up the expo and conference, we will preview a handful of the 150-plus manufacturers and suppliers who have signed on for the first Ceramics Expo (CEX).
Today, we turn the pre-show spotlight to Harrop Industries and talk to the company’s president Steve Houseman.
|Harrop Industries, Booth 117|
Harrop Industries custom designs and builds periodic and continuous kilns, ovens and tape casting machines primarily serving the ceramic industry. Harrop also is a turnkey supplier of brick plants for structural clay products. Harrop has a toll firing facility and testing lab that can handle small scale testing as well as multi-ton firing campaigns.
Q: How did your company get its start?
A: Harrop was founded in 1919 by Carl B. Harrop, a professor at Ohio State, who patented a new design for a tunnel kiln. He subsequently designed and built two successful tunnel kiln projects that gave Harrop the momentum to sustain the business that began 96 years ago.
Q: How have technology and innovation changed the nature of your business?
A: A lot of the ceramic products produced today are on the cutting edge that require tightly controlled temperature and atmosphere conditions for successful firing. We spend a tremendous amount of time assisting our customers in the R&D phase developing these processes in our lab even before we think about quoting a kiln. Twenty years ago, most of the ceramics produced were more commodity based and were easier to fire, making the kiln selection much easier.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge facing industry today?
A: The last generation or two of ceramic engineers in our industry were very hands-on oriented. They spent a majority of their time in the plant and most of what they learned was from practical experience. The great recession has eliminated a lot of these people from the workforce. Now that the industry is in recovery mode, we are finding the workforce is a lot less experienced. The new generation of engineers today are extremely intelligent, computer and modeling literate, but lack the hands-on experience.
Q: Tell us one thing most people don’t know or understand about your business.
A: The entire process of bidding, designing, fabricating, and commissioning an industrial kiln takes a longer time than most people realize. Smaller projects can take only a few months, but larger ones can take a year or more to complete.
Q: What are you most looking forward to at Ceramics Expo? Why is Ceramics Expo so important to industry?
A: It has been a long time since there was a show that had this many ceramic producers and equipment manufacturers exhibiting on the same expo floor here in the United States. This mix will hopefully be a big draw for both producers and consumers, which will benefit us all.
|Want to be a part of the first Ceramics Expo?|
Make plans to attend now by registering for your free pass.
|Can’t be in Cleveland?