Norican's Complete Aluminium Foundry

Zero waste, zero defect, seamless integration

Save furnace energy, improve casting quality and increase foundry cost-efficiency:
How you can have it all.

These are just a few of the mega trends which have seen aluminium usage soar:

  • Lightweighting in automotive and the rise of e-mobility
  • Advances in 5G technology
  • Growing societal demands for improved recyclability and widespread rejection of plastics

Aluminium advantages: Recyclability and waste reduction

A fundamental reason for the growth in aluminium usage is its advantage over other materials in terms of recyclability and waste reduction.
Near net shape production requires less machining and wastes less material – the properties (including malleability) of aluminium are particularly suited to leveraging this benefit for improved raw material efficiency.

Die-casting disadvantages: High resource and energy utilisation

Aluminium die-casting operations are resource and energy-intensive. Approximately 25% of the total cost of die cast parts are associated with energy consumption.

How can aluminium foundries maximise material efficiency while minimising energy and resource usage, as well as implementing continuous improvement to guarantee optimum part quality in a competitive market?

Zero defect: waste less, make more

The answer to this difficult balancing act is: zero.

This doesn’t mean do nothing. It means focussing on a zero waste (energy and resource), zero defect strategy. Because, thanks to evolving equipment capabilities and emerging digital solutions, the two can go hand in hand. It’s also a strategy which, if adopted, naturally addresses other key challenges in a rapidly evolving aluminium market:

  1. Increased demand for large, complex structural aluminium parts

    Complex structural parts must be ‘zero defect’ to meet higher mechanical performance requirements, combining great strength and rigidity with the lowest possible weight. But they also pose practical challenges. For example, having to manually cut pieces down to re-melt in order to fit in your furnace may waste time and human resource. Addressing this was one of the key drivers behind StrikoWestofen’s BigStruc – a melting furnace specifically for structural parts.

  2. Shorter development cycles and rapid technology shifts

    These two factors mean that new foundry lines often go from the drawing board to production much more quickly making any waste (inefficiency) a stumbling block. Meanwhile, anything that could cause delays in the supply chain, including quality issues detected too far down the line, has to be identified and addressed to maximise efficiency. 

  3. Sustainable production

    There’s more to sustainable production than slashing energy consumption and costs. Sustainable production also means eliminating factors which threaten long-term production – unplanned and unnecessary downtime falls into this category. Foundries need to focus on zero waste solutions that optimise uptime and get production right first time.

From furnace to finished casting

At Norican and across our four technology brands, we can take a full-process view from melting to cleaning – to develop innovations and solutions that help customers achieve zero waste and zero defect ambitions and tackle these challenges.

Let’s take a look at the potential.

1. Optimising furnace efficiency

The melt shop offers opportunities to save huge amounts of energy and money, but also for increased automation to make production more agile and less reliant on manual intervention

With an energy consumption rate of just 489 kWh/t and a near 100% metal yield (99.75) for improved quality, StrikoMelter is the most efficient melting furnace on the market. 

StrikoWestofen’s Part Load Efficiency Control boosts melting process efficiency – especially during low utilization – by optimizing melting and holding over longer periods, reducing energy consumption by up to 20%. 

Together these solutions help customers save money, time and make more of their resources. 

 

Monitizer | Refill Monitor: This digital solution from StrikoWestofen uses real time sensor-generated data to ensure aluminium dosing furnaces never run dry and only ever receive the right alloy at the right time. This prevents unnecessary filling runs, avoidable stoppages and guarantees that dosing and bale-out equipment is always working at full capacity. 

Productivity of metal supply increases by 15% at least and, on average, an overall productivity increase of between 0.5% -1% is achieved thanks to reducing downtime and optimized filling cycles. More uptime, more accuracy, more profitable production. 

Even more information on reducing energy wastage when melting and transferring aluminium is available in this guide from StrikoWestofen (coming soon).

2. Aluminium die casting performance

Zero waste, zero defect isn’t just a mantra with melt shop benefits. In order to cope with the new wave of larger, often more complex structural parts in high demand, High Pressure Die Casting (HPDC) machines with greater clamping forces are necessary, ranging from 3,500 tons at the lower end of the scale, to 5,600 tons. If additional space is required to accommodate these giants, it can impact on production flow/capacity; wasted space can effectively equate to lost potential. Also, such machines need to have extremely tight die closures in order to eliminate scrap and avoidable flash for high-quality part repeatability (zero defect).

The compact Toggle Free solution

Italpresse Gauss offers deliberately compact, toggle-free HPDC machines with rigid, tight, closing units and a range of clamping forces – delivering the advantage of greater force and larger platens, without taking up additional space on the foundry floor.

The zero waste, zero defect ethos is designed into all our aluminium solutions and services, not just individually, but collectively as a Norican complete foundry solution. This includes high performance green sand options from DISA – who has adopted Zero Defect Manufacturing as their ultimate customer offer.

The Complete Aluminium Foundry

Italpresse Gauss’ automated work cells are designed to optimise cycle time and stability for improved quality casting with less energy wastage, and to seamlessly integrate periphery equipment such as StrikoWestofen’s Westomat dosing furnace. 

The Westomat requires just a third of the energy consumed by automatic ladle systems while also reducing metal loss by about 80% compared to a holding furnace.

After casting, comes surface preparation.

 

3. Shot blasting aluminium

Aluminium production settings demand lighter, more flexible and more compact shot blast equipment. Wheelabrator has recently extended its most popular shot blast machine ranges with models that are tailored to aluminium applications.

Wheelabrator's blast machines for aluminium integrate into tight cell layouts to provide compact, seamless material and workpiece handling, with flexible construction that allows equipment to be moved and adapted quickly to suit rapidly changing production requirements.

Space is maximized, downtime is minimized, and - thanks to innovative engineering tailored for precision blasting, descaling/deburring, deflashing and cleaning of aluminium parts – finished part quality is optimised.

Everything works together collectively for seamless efficiency. From start to finish.
From the metal melting furnace right through to the casting’s final surface preparation.

Digital transformation for die casting

Leveraging Industry 4.0

On the subject of ‘collective’ efficiency for zero waste, zero defect super-productivity, one of the other key tools at the disposal of aluminium foundries is Data.

Casting yield, scrap rate, cycle times and number of shifts per day: these are just a few examples of drivers behind cost-critical metrics like energy consumption that need to be monitored in order to build a real-time picture of operations. Having this “big picture” overview is needed to enhance and accelerate decision making to improve quality, cut waste and optimize resources.

Double-digit productivity increases

Industry 4.0 and IIoT technologies provide the Big Picture. They offer a fresh opportunity to collect synchronised data and build a transparent foundry view to orchestrate all foundry processes to work in harmony.

Add machine learning and data analytics tools into the mix and it’s possible to manage machine performance in real time while driving constant improvement in areas like predictive maintenance, remote diagnostics and production planning – and so advance the key variables of productivity, quality and resource consumption for real bottom-line gains. In fact, consultants McKinsey report a foundry-wide digital view can deliver double-digit productivity increases.

Monitizer - Turn your data into value

At Norican we have this covered. With NoriGate technology and Monitizer cloud-based solutions, real time data from every element of your aluminium operations (whether from a single foundry or a network of sites) can be centrally analysed and measured against KPIs set by you, from any location.

In other words, the right people will have the right information they need to make the right decisions at any given moment.

 

With every stage of the aluminium die casting process covered,
we’ll make sure you really can have it all, whatever the challenge.

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