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Foundry 4.0: Building a smart ferrous foundry


June 02, 2020

Building a highly successful foundry business that keeps moving with the pace of times, as well as the market requires, requires constant technological adaptation. Industry 4.0 is gaining ground rapidly in the steel and iron foundry industries. In our article we outline some of the technologies and companies that help foundries reduce operational costs alongside and overall reducing risks and human error.

Communication between machines and VPN service management have certainly left a mark throughout the industry. But Industry 4.0 is not just about technology, it takes´a combination of modern technologies to create a smart factory’,as Foundry Trade Journal puts it.

Time is ripe for ´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 cloud-based manufacturing control. Connectivity not only increases communication between machines and services, it also allows management of the entire processes through the cloud based technology. 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) allows for machine performance analysis with subsequent identification of 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 ERP systems
  • Increased reliability of deliveries and greater planning accuracy
  • Improved long-term environmental protection.

Key companies providing solutions to build a foundry 4.0:

  • SMS Group develops strategies and technologies for intelligent, largely autonomous production through interconnection and collaboration of humans and machines. Applying manufacturing machine learning processes helps to build dynamic production processes that adjust to optimum parameters in real-time.
  • RGU Asia Pte Ltd offers a comprehensive set of foundry resource planning solutions (FRP) which have significantly different processes compared to classical and standard ERP systems for run-of-the-mill manufacturing enterprises. The solutions include digital twin tools for production planning, work in process planning, quality management, tool management and foundry online information, among others.
  • Metalshub provides steel and iron 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. From order to delivery, users are able to manage every step via a digital workflow approach.

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 67 years in the 1920s to just 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.*

*Steel foundries are facing increasing competitive pressure to produce products with more precision and faster turnaround times, and many companies in the wider metals sector are seeing the benefits from digital purchasing technologies to speed up their processes and gain an edge over their competition.*

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