The traditional manual pouring process or less sophisticated automatic systems make losing production time during pattern changes unavoidable, even with rapid pattern plate changing on the moulding machine. Manually resetting the pouring device and pouring moulds is slower, requires more operators and is prone to errors like overpours. Ortrander found that, with manual pouring, its staff eventually became tired, lost concentration and made mistakes like adding slack.
Seamless integration between moulding and pouring makes for a faster, more consistent and higher quality process with less scrap and lower downtime. At Ortrander, automated pouring dispenses with the three minutes it previously took to adjust the position of the pouring device during pattern changes.
According to Mr Piesker, the whole changeover used to take 4.5 minutes. Today, it’s under two minutes. With between eight and 12 pattern changes per shift, Ortrander’s staff now spend around 30 minutes per shift pattern changing – less than half what it used to take.
With more consistency and the ability to constantly optimise the process, quality has improved. Ortrander has cut scrap by about 20% by implementing seamless pouring.
As well less downtime during pattern changes, only two people are required for the whole moulding and pouring line instead of the previous three. During some shifts, three people can operate two complete lines. Monitoring is almost all these workers do – there are few manual tasks besides selecting the next pattern, managing sand mixing and transporting melt.
A further benefit is reducing the need for hard-to-find experienced staff. Although automation does require some specific operator training, it gives people the vital process information they need to make the right decisions. In future, the machine may take over the decision altogether.