Hansen Balk

Grand Rapids, MI

Founded and located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1955, Hansen Balk started business in a 1,600 square foot building with three furnaces. Today they occupy 80,000 square feet with over sixty (60) operating furnaces, including the largest installation of vacuum heat treating equipment in North America.

The combination of diverse equipment and expertise provides a broad range of atmosphere and vacuum heat treating processes to fit the specific requirements of different materials and applications. Industries served include: Automotive; Aerospace; Medical Instruments; Tool & Die; Machine Tool Building; Die Casting; Plastic Molding; Oil & Gas Exploration; Heavy Truck; and Military applications.


  • Inherent to the Heat Treating industry is a voracious appetite for Electric & Gas Energy Supply
  • Hansen-Balk has a large potential connected kW Demand on a 13-month Ratchet Billing Rate
  • Plant was equipped with mostly Manually Operated Electric Furnaces from 300kW to 600kW
  • Original Andover EMS System installed in 1993 was obsolete; Replacement parts are unavailable
  • Hansen Balk customer’s parts cannot be marked, altered, or labeled for tracking & accountability; Paperwork system was cumbersome and unreliable; Parts & Orders were getting lost in process
  • Gas Furnaces used paper chart recorders for Atmosphere (Carbon) and Temperature Records which were expensive to operate and maintain; Provided minimal customer documentation


  • Re-use existing network wiring installation from obsolete Andover EMS system for a new Allen-Bradley and RSView32 based Control Logix PLC system, using Profibus Adapters, Digital & Analog Flex I/O modules. This retrofit helped to minimize system upgrade costs and change-over time
  • Develop and deploy a networked, camera-based system for operators to check-in all customer parts on Digital Images / PC Storage, eliminating paperwork, bar codes, & documentation
  • Provided a flexible system architecture to handle the existing EMS/Load Shed requirements with capabilities for easy expansion when adding plant floor manufacturing data retrieval & monitoring


  • Peak Electrical Demand kW was kept in check, resulting in significant savings on utility bills.
  • Paperless Parts Tracking reduced part check-in costs and part tracking headaches
  • Operator Interface Displays provide real-time HMI / SCADA, Alarms, and Acknowledgement
  • Paperless Virtual Chart Recorders for Trending and Documenting Jobs / Batches for customers
  • Familiar and standard off-the-shelf PLC Controls & HMI Software with Local Supply & Support
  • Compatibility for various future plant equipment additions, control, monitoring, and reporting
Project Details

Commercial Metal Heat Treating & Hardening Services: Network Installation, Camera-based System, Flexible System Architecture
Facility: 80,000 sq. ft.
60+ Operating Furnaces

  • Documentation & Reporting
  • Engineering
  • Implementation
  • Network & Electric Installation
  • PLC & PC Programming
  • Project Management
  • Quality Assurance Integration
  • Service & Support
  • System Design Requirements
  • Training