Ford Automotive helps StrikoWestofen perfect pre-heating
StrikoWestofen has launched a mobile Pre-Heating Station to help aluminium foundries increase the lifespan of dosing furnace components to avoid unnecessary downtime. And it has done so with the help of automotive giant, Ford.
The furnace solutions specialist developed the concept to address a common problem affecting foundries the world-over. Ceramic component failure due to thermal shock.
"We build our Westomat dosing furnaces to last for decades", explained Holger Stephan, VP AM Sales Support & Service at StrikoWestofen, "but ceramic components vital to their operation, such as dosing tubes and filling funnels, are more susceptible to damage - particularly cracking due to thermal shock. If this happens, production has to stop while replacement parts are sourced and fitted.
"Ceramic material is perfect for furnace functionality, so we didn't want to change component design. Instead, we wanted to create a simple, affordable preventative measure to mitigate the risk of damage caused by rapid exposure to high temperatures. Pre-heating was the clear answer."
The completely mobile unit allows foundries to pre-heat their ceramic components to the ideal temperature of 400⁰C just before use. Its clever design means it can be used anywhere, is easily transferred using a forklift, and can be placed directly next to the dosing furnace.
Featuring dual heating zones to perfectly accommodate the shape and dimensions of the Westomat dosing tubes and funnels, and to heat the two components independently if required, the Pre-Heating Station is also a much safer alternative to improvised heating solutions that often pose a risk to the foundry teams using them.
By heating components with StrikoWestofen's new solution, foundries therefore reduce maintenance costs, improve component longevity for improved furnace uptime, and enhance workplace safety.
To ensure the solution was ideally suited to busy foundry life, StrikoWestofen enlisted the help of long-standing customer Ford. A prototype solution was delivered to Ford's production facility in Cologne, Germany, for the team there to test under real conditions.
In addition to making practical recommendations for improved daily use - for example regarding modifying the unit's access ladder - Ford's electrical maintenance team collaborated with StrikoWestofen to fully optimize the Pre-Heating Station's technical performance.
Holger Stephan added: "Our aim is always to develop and deliver solutions for quality casting that are cost, energy and resource efficient. Crucially, they also have to be usable and well suited to the realities of foundry operating conditions. Partnering with customers to perfect our concepts like Ford is therefore hugely important to our business."
The Pre-Heating Station is now widely available to aluminum foundries across all StrikoWestofen's global markets.