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Digital impressions from GIFA 2019

Is this ready now? The connected foundry up close.

It’s already two months since the foundry industry met at GIFA and we’ve all had time to reflect on the show, on what we’ve seen and learned. 

For the team here at Norican, digital innovation continues to be the overarching theme running through customer conversations, exhibits and presentations. However, this year, there was a marked difference in the topics of discussion around digital. 

We’ve noticed a much greater focus on the practical implementation of digital technology and on how the different approaches offered by various equipment manufacturers fit together in a complete foundry setting. From green sand through to aluminium, the industry seems to be looking for concrete answers and practical ways forward. Here are our key takeaways.

Traceability

The chess players among you may be familiar with the German word Zugzwang, which describes a situation where you are forced to make a move in order to not lose out. Traceability – of castings, finished parts, moulds, molten metal – is an area where foundry customers have told us they are indeed under Zugzwang. Those serving the automotive industry in particular are increasingly asked to deliver workpiece or material traceability to their car-making customers – and show progress fast.

In hindsight, it’s therefore no surprise that our traceability products, TAG (Trace & Guidance), Refill Monitor, MAC, and Monitizer, all went down incredibly well with visitors at our stand in June. 

In brief, TAG delivers casting traceability through a unique mark imprinted on each mould produced by a DISA moulding line; the Refill Monitor tracks how much molten metal and which alloy is delivered to each casting line in a foundry; DISA’s MAC takes mould alignment and accuracy data from every single mould before it is poured, preventing scrap and allowing the collection and analysis of the collected data; Monitizer enables the processing and visualization of all types of foundry data in a single place, combining different data sources to track and combine quality data.

Openness

The sheer number of digital solutions, big and small, being presented to foundries (for all types of equipment) means that the task of selecting the right digital systems and devices and making everything work together can be daunting. 

A key question and demand mentioned during conversations at GIFA - for both tech and machines – has been about openness and the ease with which technology can be connected across machines and systems. Foundries want tech that is equipment and system-agnostic where possible, making it easier to join up systems and connect diverse types of machinery. And they want machinery that is digitally accessible.

Our NoriGate interface, developed by Norican Digital, can connect to almost any system, it can also be fitted on virtually any type of equipment, not just ours and not just foundry-related.

In brief, NoriGate is a small but powerful little device that can be retrofitted on existing equipment. It enables easy collection of machine data and connection to the cloud and across multiple sites.

Readiness

Industry 4.0 has been everywhere in the last couple of years and industry as a whole has markedly been moving from talking about it as a concept to coming up with concrete digital products. Nowhere was this more noticeable than at this year’s GIFA, with many exhibitors focusing on digital innovation. 

This was matched on the visitor side with an eagerness to find out what’s possible and available, and with a very good understanding of where digital solutions could support their operations. However, visitors also told us that the volume of digital products presented to them was vast and one of the biggest challenges was to pin down exhibitors on how ready products actually were. 

We’ve made it our mission to be as clear as possible with the solutions we’ve had on show at our stand and show only the most advanced innovations, but for the avoidance of any doubt here is the status of all of them.

In brief, Monitizer and NoriGate are available now, Italpresse Gauss’ AMe virtual service and maintenance assistant has been available for a while, DISA’s MAC and Refill Monitor are in live operation at customer sites. DISA’s Trace & Guidance (TAG) is a concept and still in development.

And that’s a wrap for GIFA 2019. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the many enlightening and friendly conversations and are excited about what we can achieve with you in the four years until the next show in 2023!