Enhancing Foundry Productivity

Every foundry faces a high down time cost, and should endeavor to avoid or reduce this cost. Generally production in a foundry is stopped between Friday night and Sunday night / Monday morning. This causes loss of energy in foundry machinery like furnace, ovens etc. After studying the high demand in market for the product, and also the need to reduce the high cost associated with the production process, some foundries have found a solution in this down time losses by adopting Continental Shifting.

Under this system, contractors are hired for servicing and upkeep of plant on weekdays at a regular hourly wage rate instead of higher weekend rates. Secondly the plant reduces demand for power during weekdays due to maintenance shutdown and use cheaper weekend rates. The resultant benefits of this system should not be ignored as a lot of gain is made in terms of maintenance and cost and energy usage cut downs.

Foundries using electricity for melting, electricity demand analysis and costs associated with the same may give an insight into planning of production. Electricity demand and costs associated thereof are a fixed monthly cost. A uniform utilization pattern of power may also be discovered for the entire plant. Often, melt deck and general plant uses power simultaneously causing a high peak demand penalty throughout the month.

This can be rectified if the melting processes are shifted to another time of the day when electric demand is less and thus reduce peak demand. Hence a pool of “FREE” time is created when the demand for power is least and the melting department can easily use this free time as per requirement.

Higher productivity means a more efficient use of plant and machinery, not forgetting a lower energy and labor cost. For example, when transferring molten metal from furnace through a ladle to pouring station, a considerable energy and heat loss takes place. This is due to the fact that a distance has to be covered between the furnaces where the metal is melted, to the pouring station. The ladle, which is used to transfer the metal needs to be suitably quoted if any heat loss has to be prevented. The metal has to be heated at a higher temperature to compensate for cooling during the transfer process. Also lining of ladle is exposed to excessive wear and tear.

A foundry in Ontario adopted Cell Based Approach to increase productivity. This not only increases quality but also results in better-satisfied customers.

Robots are increasingly being used for repetitive operations such as cutting, finishing etc, which when combined with automated inspection helps to make processes consistent and improve quality. Thus quality and productivity is increased manifolds.

Once the processes are monitored, costs can be reduced by monitoring and planning. Fuels can also be used more efficiently and the balance of fuels saved can be used for alternate purposes.

All these have been proved by implementation in an Ontario foundry. This foundry has a number of displays put up at strategic places mentioning the cost of various materials being used by the foundry. This gives out a clear message to the employees that no wastage of resources should take place.

TIP : - Educate employees about important factors like productivity, planning, efficient utilization of resources and offer them incentives related to cost saving. The incentives should be given to the employees on a monthly basis. This will not only improve efficiency but also keep employees happy.

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