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Metform Division Benefits from Enhanced System Reliability

A segment of the rebuilt Savanna-Metform transmission line
A segment of the rebuilt Savanna-Metform transmission line.

Member-customers of the Jo-Carroll Energy System – including the Metform Division of MacLean-Fogg – are benefitting from improved reliability and increased capacity as the result of transmission work completed by ITC Midwest.

We recently had the opportunity to discuss the importance of system reliability with Steve Wright, the general manager of the Metform Division of MacLean-Fogg. The Metform Division forges, machines and assembles components primarily for transportation industries at three locations in Savanna and one in Mount Carroll, Illinois. The largest product line produced at these locations are machined gear blanks for automotive transmissions. Jo-Carroll Energy provides electric service to the plants, with the system served by ITC Midwest electric transmission.

ITC Midwest completed the rebuild of the 34.5 kV Savanna-Metform line in 2021, converting it to 69 kV operation. Most of this new 69 kV line is also double-circuited with a rebuilt 161 kV line. In addition, ITC Midwest expanded and upgraded transmission assets at the Savanna, Metform, York and Danisco substations. All of these investments were made to enhance service and reliability for the cooperative’s members, add capacity to support the potential growth of current commercial and industrial businesses, and foster economic development in the area.

Mr. Wright: Our largest product line is machined gear blanks for automotive transmissions. Chrysler is our biggest customer – they’re now called Stellantis – along with General Motors, Ford and ZF Group – a company that builds transmissions that go into a variety of cars. Our operations are hot forming, heat treat and machining, and there are other secondary operations within the process.

Mr. Wright: We have four buildings, including our main facility where we have a hot-forming operation with 10 Hatebur hot formers that are heating bar steel up to 2,200 degrees, so we’re using a lot of power. Power interruption or power surges really cause us a lot of difficulty in terms of down time, costs, potential delivery issues and things like that, so we rely on consistent power delivery.

Mr. Wright: With hot forming equipment, if it loses power, we’re going to have a fair amount of scrap. When that happens, the machine is going to shut down. Then we have to heat it back up, the induction heaters have to get back up to 2,200 degrees to heat the material, and we’ll scrap a lot of raw material in the process of getting the machine dialed in again. We also have four heat treat furnaces. If we lose power, the belt stops moving, and parts are stuck in a furnace, and most likely going to be scrapped because of that downtime.

Mr. Wright: We’re happy with the service that we get here through Jo-Carroll. Really, I think that we’ve got pretty reliable service to our factory throughout the year. Nothing’s perfect, but overall Metform is very happy with our relationship and our partnership with Jo-Carroll.

Mr. Wright: We’re actively looking at growth opportunities right now that could involve expansion, building facilities or internal growth within our facilities. Obviously, we wouldn’t do that if we didn’t have confidence in our power supply here in Savanna.

Mr. Wright: It’s really important as we talk about the small-town work ethic, because we want people to come here. Housing, internet availability, a good power supply and favorable (natural) gas prices are important. I think we all work together to make sure this is a good place to live, work and raise a family, with good school systems. All of these things are important to our operation and why we choose to stay in Savanna, Illinois.

Congratulations to Steve Wright and his team at Metform for operating highly productive and efficient manufacturing facilities to supply essential automotive components for vehicle production. Jo-Carroll Energy and ITC Midwest are proud to supply reliable electricity to power these successful manufacturing operations.

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