Acetarc Welding & Engineering Co. Ltd. was started in the mid 1960’s by two brothers, Ken Harker & Peter Burrell. In 1967 it became a limited company and continues to be a family owned and run business to this day. Whilst the original founders are still involved with the company, the company is now run by the second generation; Brothers Steven & Chris Harker and Anthony Burrell.
We are located in Keighley, a small industrial town in West Yorkshire, in the north of England.
The name Acetarc derives from oxy-acetylene and arc welding. The name was chosen because when the company was started, Acetarc were one of the first small engineering companies in the Keighley area to use both welding processes. Most small welding companies in the Keighley area were still using the oxy-acetylene welding process. Today Acetarc carry out a variety of welding procedures using all the latest techniques. Our full name, which is now usually abbreviated to Acetarc Engineering Co. Ltd, also reflects the fact that in 1967 we were also one of the first engineering companies in the Keighley area to offer both machining and welding, including fabrication, services combined within a single company.
Our logo, the Workhorse, both reflects our Yorkshire heritage and symbolises the design ethos for our foundry equipment; solid, heavy-duty and dependable under heavy prolonged use.
We started as a small jobbing shop providing a range of engineering services to local industry which, at the time included many textile mills and several well-known foundry engineering companies. Through dedicated service to customers, Acetarc outgrew its original premises and had to acquire larger facilities. Ironically, our new building was part of a former textile mill (Springfield Mills) that, due to the decline in the textile industry had become available.
Around 1969, the opportunity arose for Acetarc to purchase the designs and manufacturing rights to H Beck & Son Ltd foundry equipment manufacturers including the H Beck ladles which became the foundation for the Acetarc range of foundry ladles that are manufactured today. Over the years we have developed and improved the designs but we can proudly claim that our foundry ladles have a design heritage that stretches back to the 1950’s.
The H Beck foundry ladles had been mostly sold in the UK via a few foundry equipment dealers and were often re-badged. Although Acetarc continued to do this for a short transition period, we quickly set out to build up our own customer base, selling Acetarc ladles directly to UK foundries and under our own name.
Throughout the 1970’s we extended our UK customer base, gaining a word of mouth reputation for providing well designed and cost effective equipment. This was helped by attending trade exhibitions and marketing. We also started to acquire overseas agents/representatives to assist with the growing worldwide sales of Acetarc foundry ladles’.
Over the years we have also increased the range of foundry equipment that we can offer. Although principally specialising in molten metal handling & pouring equipment, we have also done many foundry projects covering monorail systems, stock yard handling and furnace charging systems. We have also designed, manufactured and installed cupolas and carried out Cupola repairs.
In 1977 due to increased demand for our products it was necessary to re-locate to larger premises in Keighley (Atley Works) where we still are today.
The Atley Works factory dates back to 1911, and during the 1914-18 war was used as an armaments factory making shells. The Atley works site includes admin and design offices plus our manufacturing facilities. The design office uses industry standard AutoCAD software. The design office switched from drawing boards to CAD in 1994.
In 1991 Acetarc acquired the assets of Fulworth Engineering Ltd., a long established Keighley company that specialised in the buying and selling of used foundry equipment. Fulworth were run as a subsidiary of Acetarc until 2005, when, due to the decline in the market for used foundry equipment in the UK, the decision was taken to close Fulworth Engineering.
From the mid 1980’s to the present day the UK foundry industry has undergone significant changes, as have many other sectors of UK manufacturing and the same is true for many foundry sectors in other countries.
Our response to the challenges created by these changes have been to improve our design & manufacturing processes and to expand our sales world-wide. Whereas at first we only exported into Europe and Scandinavia, we now export to all countries around the world. Approximately 80% of all Acetarc foundry ladles are now manufactured for export. In this we are aided by a world-wide network of long established independent representatives/agents. We also regularly exhibit at the large international foundry exhibitions such as GIFA and Castexpo.
In 2000, Acetarc became authorised UK dealers for TC/American monorail Inc. A long established manufacturer of high quality monorail track and associated components, TC/American Monorail are located in north western Minnesota USA. Using the TC/American monorail track Acetarc have provided overhead monorail handling systems for foundries and for other heavy-duty industrial applications.
Acetarc gained ISO 9001 accreditation in 2001. This combined with the computer based production management system that we have in place means that quality control is maintained at all stages.
In addition to foundry equipment, Acetarc has diversified into other industries and now provides a range of engineering services including design, fabrication, sub-contract machining and heritage engineering projects. These include number of heritage projects for steam locomotive societies, such as fabricating replica saddle tanks and tenders for the world famous Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
In 2004, Acetarc acquired Carroll Brothers Ltd precision engineers to strengthen our abilities in these sectors.
In 2011 Acetarc acquired Allan Green & Son gear Cutting & Precision Machining, and in 2012, following a major reorganisation of our manufacturing facilities, Allan Green & Son moved from their original premises and were incorporated into the Atley Works site.
We have had a long association with Allen Green & Son, as they were our principle sub-contractor for cutting the gears used on the Acetarc range of oil-bath gearboxes fitted on to our foundry ladles. The incorporation of Allen Green & Son has significantly increased our ability to provide sub contract engineering services, including gear cutting and C.N.C machining etc.
Ken Harker overseeing a new foundry installation
This photo was taken back in 1984 and shows Acetarc founder Ken Harker supervising the installation of machinery at a new foundry (Bolan Castings) in Karachi. At the time this was the biggest overseas projects Acetarc had undertaken.