Morgan Advanced Materials increases focus on locally manufactured products in import replacement drive

Traction brush holders and slip ring manufacture among products designated under new strategy.

Established for more than a century, the Electrical Materials business of Morgan Advanced Materials designs and manufactures a broad range of high performance solutions for rotary transfer systems, linear transfer systems and electrical carbon systems.

The origins of Morgan Advanced Materials go back even further, over 150 years ago.

19th century: The Morgan brothers’ entrepreneurial spirit
The Patent Plumbago Crucible Company was founded in 1856 in London by the Morgan brothers, when they secured a licence to sell American-built crucibles in the UK. Soon the brothers began manufacturing crucibles, not only for England’s Royal Mint but also for mints in India, France and Germany. Thus the brothers, eight out of ten of whom worked in the business, laid the foundations of a company whose products were in demand throughout the world.

20th century: expanding overseas
In the early 20th century Morgan Crucible diversified its product range and developed a range of carbon brushes for the rapidly expanding electricity industry. Manufacturing expansion overseas soon followed, with sites in New York, Russia and Germany. At home, a sizeable factory was established in Battersea, south London, which continued to supply the world with foundry products until the early 1970s, when the main carbon production was moved to Morriston, South Wales.


Morgan Advanced Materials South Africa has brush holder and slip ring manufacture, repair and redesign in their portfolio


Components that have been investment cast and are then machined at Morgan Advanced Materials

The second half of the 20th century is a story of expansion. By the early 1990s, prompted by a strong acquisition strategy, Morgan Crucible comprised 200 companies in 80 countries.

21st century: building world leading businesses
By the late 1990s and early 2000s Morgan Crucible was underperforming its peers, suffering from lack of strategic focus and a burden of debt. A new management team was appointed with a brief to turn the business around and to set a new strategic direction.

Following the Group’s 150th anniversary in 2006, Mark Robertshaw was appointed Chief Executive, having been Chief Financial Officer since 2004. His appointment led to the formulation of the strategy which has guided the Group ever since.

In February 2013 the Group announced a restructuring that would unify the former Divisions into a ‘One Morgan’ business. On 27th March The Morgan Crucible Company plc was renamed Morgan Advanced Materials plc.

From medical instruments, aerospace, petrochemical, power generation and satellite communications, to body armour, trains and fire protection systems, Morgan Advanced Materials products are fundamental components or enabling technologies for many of the modern world’s sophisticated products.

These products include advanced ceramics, braze alloys, carbon brushes, composites and defence systems, fire protection, high temperature insulation, linear transfer systems, molten metal systems, rotary transfer, seals and bearings, sensors and transducers and thermal engineering.

The engineering products are manufactured in carbon, graphite, silicon carbide, various metals and other advanced materials.

South Africa
The company has manufacturing facilities worldwide including one in Tulisa Park, Gauteng. Morgan Advanced Materials, which commenced trading in South Africa in 1947, has had a presence for 67 years. Recent developments at its Tulisa Park facility indicate that the company is firmly established and has plans to stay for many more years.


More components in the machine shop before being assembled into final product


The various components that Morgan Advanced Materials South Africa machines

“Our engineered materials are prevalent in a wide range of industrial equipment. They help manufacturers of non-ferrous metallurgy, steel, paper, cement, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food to improve the efficiency of their processes,” says Jacques Visser, Operations Manager.

“Products such as high quality carbon brushes, linear collectors and rotary current transfer products help to maximise equipment performance, extend system life and optimise energy efficiency, thereby reducing maintenance and operating costs.”

“Our carbon and graphite insulation materials and machined graphite products are used to support specialist processes in demanding high temperature environments where their purity and structural characteristics are critical to achieving the required process quality.”

“In the mining industry, severe and changeable operating loads and high levels of vibration make considerable demands on the electrical performance of heavy machinery. Our superior advanced brush material technology has facilitated reliable equipment operation in the harshest and deepest mines in the world.”


Slip ring repair, refurbish and redesign is very much part of the mix at Morgan Advanced Materials South Africa


Morgan Advanced Materials South Africa has recently purchased a Neway CNC vertical machining centre VM 903 S, which has XYZ travels of 850 x 520 x 560 and a table size of 950 x 520mm, supplied by Machine Tool Promotions

“Our specialist materials technologies deliver long-life performance for rail networks all over the world, even those operating in extreme environments such as very high-speed trains and long haul freight passing through widely varying conditions. Carbon brushes, commutation system components, earthing brushes, third rail and pantograph collectors are custom built and tested to meet individual rail network requirements.”

Local development to aid import replacement
The company has recently embarked on a strategy to upgrade their manufacturing facilities in Tulisa Park with the aim of increasing their product mix and to aid import replacement.

“There are a number of factors that have influenced this decision, all as a result of a comprehensive study and analysis of the company operations. Under the direction of the parent company it was decided that South Africa should elevate its position as a manufacturer that would ultimately aid import replacement, and in future give the local operation the opportunity to export product back to sister companies worldwide,” explained Visser.

“Our initial drive is to increase our market share in South Africa and at the same time grow our presence in the rest of Africa. The products that we manufacture locally are best suited to transportation, power generation and the electrical industries, all areas where the emphasis is focused on South Africa and the rest of the continent.”

“Although we have been operating in these areas for some time, attention is now being given to increase our capabilities and to ensure our manufacturing processes are optimised.”

“At Tulisa Park we have three distinct manufacturing divisions. These include brush holder and slip ring manufacture, repair and redesign, the graphite machining department and the carbon brush manufacturing division.”

Brush holder and slip ring manufacture, repair and redesign
Morgan can supply a wide range of brush holders, including traction, transit, and industrial holders. The stocked range includes the “Calliper” type double arm holders for simple slip ring applications through to the popular cast body, constant force, RTR type for DC motor duty.


The graphite machining department at Morgan Advanced Materials South Africa. In the foreground is a graphite crucible destined to be used in the gold industry


At Tulisa Park Morgan Advanced Materials South Africa has three distinct manufacturing divisions. These include brush holder and slip ring manufacture, repair and redesign, the graphite machining department and the carbon brush manufacturing division. This is the carbon brush manufacturing division

There are also heavy-duty brush holders for large AC slip ring motors and special “Spark Plug” style holders for clutch supply applications.

Brushes are needed to collect the current through the rotating Commutator or to lead the current to it. Normally brushes are made up of carbon and graphite so that the Commutator surface is not spoiled.

This brush is accommodated in a brush holder where a spring presses it against the
Commutator. A flexible copper conductor securely fixed into the brush is used to make the connection between the brush and its brush holder. The numbers of brush holders are usually equal to the number of main poles in a DC machine. The brush holder is one of the major components/parts of the rocker assembly.

The company manufactures industrial brush holders to suit industrial applications used throughout industries and can also custom produce brush holders for special applications.

The range includes designs to suit the following traction motor manufacturers: General Electric, EMD, GEC, Hitachi, ABB, Brush Electric, Mitsubishi and English Electric.

Slip ring repair, refurbish and redesign
As well as the complete manufacture of slip rings Morgan can refurbish and repair slip rings of any size. The electrical and mechanical components includes the slip ring assemblies, the brush holders, the contact tip assemblies, the brush arm and rocker assemblies and the constant force and clock springs for most assemblies.


Carbon brushes ready for delivery


A graphite crucible being machined

At Tulisa Park Morgan Advanced Materials South Africa has three distinct manufacturing divisions. These include brush holder and slip ring manufacture, repair and redesign, the graphite machining department and the carbon brush manufacturing division. This is the carbon brush manufacturing division
“The mix of our components is both relatively big and small with a bigger emphasis on small. In the past we have mainly focused on sand castings and forged components, but there has been a definite swing in our shop towards investment castings.”

“If you’re machining components out of bar metal, castings or forgings chances are it’s costing you a lot of extra time and money. If those parts require extensive machining, you could be losing significant money in scrap, especially if you’re using pricey metals or alloys.”

“An increasing number of shops that make metal parts that are intricate, require extensive machining or are produced repetitively or in limited quantities, are finding that investment casting is the ideal solution.”


Chlorine gas tubes that have been manufactured by Morgan Advanced Materials South Africa


Morgan Advanced Materials South Africa also has a Victor Vcenter-70 on the shopfloor

“Investment casting offers a variety of alloys while saving finishing time and material waste. The process can also enable a company to combine two or more parts into a single piece, saving on fabrication, welding or assembly and machining time. The range of metals and alloys that can be investment-cast is broad, including low-cost alloys such as carbon and many tool steels or costly alloys such as aluminium, stainless steel, hastalloy, cobalt and Inconel.”

“All our brush holders are now investment cast by Rely Precision.”

New equipment
Part of our strategy is to invest in new equipment for all the departments which will aid us in production times and quality, as well as afford us the opportunity to manufacture the components ourselves as against outsourcing.”

“One such investment has been in a Neway CNC vertical machining centre VM 903 S, which has XYZ travels of 850 x 520 x 560 and a table size of 950 x 520mm and supplied by Machine Tool Promotions.”

“More CNC metal removal and forming machines are being looked at, and the graphite machining department is looking at CNC grinders.”

“With the type of clients that we deal with, which include Transnet, PRASA, LH Marthinusen, Reid & Mitchell, Actom and Union Carriage, they demand high-quality finishes and service.”

For further details contact Morgan Advanced Materials on TEL: 296 0072 or visit