Building a highly successful foundry business that keeps moving with the pace of times and the market requires constant technological adaptation. As the concept of “Industry 4.0” is increasingly gaining ground in the FERROUS foundry industry, we outline some of the technologies and companies that help foundries reduce operational costs as well as reducing risks and human error.
Communication between machines and VPN service management have certainly left their mark throughout the industry. But the concept of “Industry 4.0” is not just about technology, it takes ´a combination of modern technologies and solutions to create a smart factory’, as the Foundry Trade Journal puts it.
Time is ripe for so-called “smart foundries” – highly digitalised and integrated foundry operations that can react to the ever-growing demands from technology, production, and the market.
Such foundry operation use connectivity to manage all processes from automated material ordering to even cloud-based manufacturing control including production planning and controlling.
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a crash course in this to many stakeholders and they realise now how important it is to have seamless communication chains for easy handling of manufacturing operations obliging to “social distancing” new rules and “new normal”.
Connectivity not only increases communication between machines and services but also allows management of entire processes through e.g. the cloud. Technologies such as RFID (radio frequency identification) enable foundries to automate control of various machines remotely. In addition, tools for monitoring OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) allow measuring machine performance and identify the percentage of planned production time that is truly productive.
The industry news site “Foundry Planet”, highlights three major benefits to building a “smart Foundry”:
- Integration of customers and business partners into key business processes through digital platform (FRP® / ERP) – systems and digital platformisation via better inter connectivity
- Increased reliability of deliveries and greater / better planning accuracy
- Improved long-term environmental protection and sustainability of business operations via improved communications
Key solutions provider to build a “foundry 4.0” framework:
- RGU Asia Pte Ltd (https://www.rgu-asia.com) together with our India subsidiary Foundry Resource Planning & Consulting Pvt Ltd offer a comprehensive set of digital platform solutions (FRP®) since foundries have significantly different processes compared to classical systems for run-of-the-mill manufacturing enterprises. The solutions include digital tools for product planning, work in process reporting, quality- / materials- / tool-management among others as well as foundry online information systems in addition, all this using “digital twin” and even basic AI level technologies.
- Metalshub (www.metals-hub.com) provides FERROUS foundries with digital tools for buying and selling metals and ferroalloys. The platform allows users to find suppliers globally and speed up the decision-making process for best suppliers, best offers, and manage all the steps from order to delivery in one digital workflow.
- The solution from Metalshub can be – of course – integrated into the solution from FRP® – if desired – so platformisation is not merely a buzzword.
Full digital connectivity with suppliers has been identified as being an underdeveloped area. As the magazine, Industrial Automation, puts it: “On the supplier side, right technologies and expertise has to be built and customers have to understand the expected value of Industry 4.0.”
Companies that do not adapt fast enough to the digital age risk being left behind, or worse, disappear from the highly competitive market.
According to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University, the average lifespan of a company has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, from averaging 67 years in the 1920s to just averaging 15 years today.
This means that if it used to take half a century for companies to understand the reality of their problems and promote change, a company can easily disappear in just a decade now and recent examples have been seen a plenty. Again the Covid-19 pandemic puts extra pressure on this aspect and it is seen everywhere in recent month.
With increasing competitive pressure to produce products with more precision and faster turnaround times, many companies in the metals casting industry are now reaping the benefits from digital purchasing / digital planning and controlling up to digital supply chain – technologies to speed up their processes and gain an edge over their competition.
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