Vision and Strategy for the Foundry of the Future



he metalcasting process is recognized as one of the more complex in manufacturing,

and, consequently, we as an industry are busy every day devoting all our time and effort to our foundry’s opera- tion, process control and problem solv- ing activities. We are so preoccupied with providing our customers sound metal castings that comply with a wide variety of standards for material, dimensions, and environmental and safety that we might forget to recog- nize how difficult our industry truly is. Simultaneously, the world is mov- ing at a constantly increasing speed, so we better pay attention to the main trends affecting our industry and par- ticularly our foundry. But, how do we identify those trends? If we compare our current world to when we began our professional life, which in my personal case was 32 years ago, we will find many differ- ences. Tese include the way we com- municate, the evolution of computers and data processing, all the new tools for data gathering and analysis, the amount of information available, the speed of life, and an increasing pres- sure to improve quality while reducing delivery time and cost. As a reaction to all those changes, the industry has adapted new management styles, such as process standardization and opti- mization, total quality systems, just in time, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, and others.

It is easy to look backwards and identify how the world evolved and how the industry reacted. Te real challenge is to look several years forward, anticipate the capabilities and talents that will be required, and define strategies to influence and participate in those expected changes. I don’t pretend to know the

future, but since I have been in- volved in AFS activities for many years and have had the opportunity to travel the world visiting technical

42 | MODERN CASTING August 2017

congresses, foundries, suppliers and customers, I have identified some trends I believe will affect the indus- try in the coming years. Te world market, especially vehicle

manufacturers (one of the main users of metal castings), is moving toward more options for the end-user. Te number of versions and models is increasing rapidly. Consequently, we’ll see more part numbers with less volume. It will put pressure on the in- dustry to have more flexible foundries in terms of production lots. Casting design optimization is

another trend. Traditionally, many foundries play a passive role in terms of casting design and will only produce metal castings designed by others. Some market segments are demanding less weight and better performance. To be able to help customers achieve this through metalcasting, we need to develop design skills and be involved

pact of these trends will depend on each found- ry’s long term strategy and the se- lected market niche, but in general, the foundry of the future should be more flexible and engineered to develop new castings in a very short time with minimum pattern investment. It also should be able to support the customer to improve metalcasting performance. Because all those changes demand a high degree of engineering and technical knowledge, one of the best sources for education and learning is AFS, so

Patricio Gil

Te real challenge is to look several years forward, anticipate the capabilities and talents that will be required, and define strategies to influence and participate in those expected changes.

with the user—helping them under- stand the metalcasting application and required performance. Te combination of those two

trends creates a third trend: the reduc- tion of the life cycle of products where the customer permanently launches new models. Tis means pressure to reduce the time to develop a casting, as well as reduction on delivery time and pattern cost.

I really encourage you to get involve and participate. It is important to have a deep understanding of the region where we participate and be ready to adjust the helm at the right time. If we are only looking inside our plant, we run the risk of optimizing the production of obsolete products and being the best at producing something that is no longer needed.

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