HISTORY A. B. CHANCE PARKERSBURG WV
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A. B. Chance
A. B. Chance makes Insulators From the clay and sand of the earth is formed a variety of objects but there's only one end product when the materials are headed to the local A. B. Chance Co. plant. "We make a porcelain, or ceramic insulator," says plant manager Russell Greene. "That's all we make here." That's been true since A. B. Chance bought the plant in 1956. Before then the plant Built in 1913 as General. Porcelain Co; and bought and renamed Porcelain Products in 1927 made dishes pots rings through which sailing ship rigging was wound and even land mines says Steve Bailey. Industrial relations manager. The life of a Porcelain Insulator is full of heat and pressure but the effort has paid off for Chance which has one other plant at its Centralia, Mo. headquarters. Chance is a subsidiary of Emerson Electric Co. of St. Louis.
We're holding our own in the porcelain business. Our employment has gone up slightly while a number of companies have gone out of business, Greene adds. Born out of mud and mire the clay goes through deliberate stages to be transformed into a useful product for electrical distribution companies. It's not for high voltage lines you see on a tower. It's more like what you find in cities between substations and the users Greene says. The process begins with the company's purchase of raw materials from clay and other natural mines. The clay is mixed with water and other ingredients then pressed into different insulator shapes. The clay passes through a number of automated stages added in a concentrated capital improvements program during the past three years. There was more capital investment in the last three years than there was in the previous 15 Greene says. It's had a good effect on Operations. It helped us stay in business.
The automated production system runs around the clock every day of the year. It starts where clay is brought into the plant and pressed into bricks on the filter presses. The slabs of clay continue moving along a conveyor to a hot press where each is punched by another machine into roughly the shape of an insulator. Before hand the clay block must sit for a day then pass through a dryer which takes about a day and then it will get a coat of glaze. The glaze gives the insulator strength and a slick finish so it is more resistant to dirt contamination and water. An insulator may also get a coating of semi conductive glaze which minimizes static or radio interference. Then an application of sand is made to both the inside and outside of the bell-shaped insulators. Sand provides an "anchor" for a metal pin that is fitted inside the insulator and a metal cap that is fitted on top. After the necessary preparations the insulators are ready to roll through a kiln. The kilns are another part of the automated production system added in recent years replacing a single 60 year old kiln being used in the plant. The insulators take from a day and half to three days to pass through the kiln tunnel depending on which isused Each kiln is heated to about 2,400 degrees but one runs twice as fast as the other and is used to process smaller insulators.
The automated kilns like the automated press and the automated glazing operation help improve the quality of A. B. Chance's product. They're energy efficient they do a good job of firing and they really revitalized this operation Greene says. How ever no insulator passes on without a double edged check. First a high frequency tester checks the insulator then each one is checked visually to assure it's OK. The insulators are assembled packaged and shipped to customers such as State Electric Supply Co. of Parkersburg. That operation too is handled in Chance's Parkersburg plant. About 25 to 30 of the facility's 140 some employees are office staff, who manage the plant's own purchasing, sales and distribution This plant is an entity unto itself Greene says. The Company closed in November 1990