Compared to other industries, the foundry industry has always faced significant challenges in developing environmentally friendly processes and machinery. It is well known that foundries face a particular challenge; substantial energy needs generally satisfied by burning fossil fuels. This has always made it unlikely that the industry would spearhead green innovations!
A second challenge within the industry has been the size of foundries globally. Traditionally the foundry industry has been made up from small foundries with unique processes and product combinations . This limited the development of machines and processes which could benefit the entire industry. Further combined with the small margins typically associated with casting, this has reduced the capacity for significant investment in major process changes .
Regulation creates a final challenge for the development of new foundry technologies. Traditional processes such as casting shakeout and the use of melting furnaces are often subject to rigorous regulation, so changes often engage lengthy permitting procedures . This has meant smaller foundries unable to invest in new equipment continue to emit the same levels of CO2 and SO2 .
Technology as a driving force
With the advent of Industry 4.0 we are starting to see significant developments in foundry machinery. The industry has woken up to the importance, and the financial impact, of being more environmentally friendly. We need only look at the EcoMetals tour at GIFA to see the changing attitudes.
The three main processes which drive energy consumption and pollution across foundries are generally:
- Mold preparation
- Melting raw materials
- Casting and shakeout
The U.S. Energy Information Administration Environment identifies the generation of electricity as the top source of foundry greenhouse gas emissions. Foundries who focus on a reduction in their energy consumption not only impact on the environment but also will positively affect their bottom line.
Research by the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department at Pennsylvania State University found that when energy reduction strategies were used in conjunction with waste reduction techniques significant cost improvements were found. They recommend using a Green Value Stream Map to highlight key areas to review performance. Regardless of the methodology you choose the results are clear; the less you consume the lower your energy overheads will be.
Technology also plays an important role in helping foundries reduce their waste output. The type of waste that foundries produce depends on their output and the foundry industry is so vast that we don’t have the word count to list all waste. When we take the classic example of sand, which is commonly reused and recycled, we know that a foundry can significantly reduce their overall waste. Many routinely recycle green sand. But, it still has an “end life” as it becomes too fine for reuse. Machines developed to wear sand less increase the life of the sand.
One of the innovative machines JML Industrie will be presenting at GIFA 2019 significantly reduces the wear of the sand, as there are no mechanical parts in contact. Not only can the sand be reused more frequently but the equipment parts also see a significant reduction in wear, increasing the lifespan of the machine.
For the non-ferrous and steel foundries the presence of lead, zinc and cadmium generates harmful waste. A report by Ijsee estimated that molding and core sand make up 66% to 88% of total waste from ferrous foundries .
Chemically bound sand used for cores and shell molds is more difficult to reuse and can become waste after a single use. When additional materials are identified in sands after use treatment may be required prior to disposal. Equipment and processes that reduce toxicity improves the negative impact on the environment as well as disposal costs.
The industry as a whole is working to reduce the amount of waste generated. This includes recycling initiatives and policies to reduce toxicity . On advanced sand mixers, it is possible reduce waste and improve overall quality by delivering the exact sand recipe and quantity along with a fully automatic filling sequence.
The net result of more efficiently managing waste and controlling energy consumption is that foundries are becoming more environmentally friendly. Internal programs and policies help to conserve energy, reduce waste and enhance efficiency. Adoption of ‘right-first time’ production has a significant impact on the above .
Reduction of waste and quality improvements
Reviewing the advancements in environmentally friendly technologies it is clear these improvements also drive higher quality output for foundries. Focusing on quality, and getting production right first time, automatically reduces waste and energy consumption. This is both positive for the environment and for production overheads.
As the industry develops we will continue to see innovations that reduce environmental impact. Industry 4.0 is starting to gain traction, especially in Germany and as technology drives further improvements in efficiency and output, we will continue to see a reduction in the industry’s environmental footprint.
JML Industrie’s commitment to the environment
Recently JML Industrie launched a range of environmentally friendly equipment. A new logo has been designed to help customers recognise that the equipment is a step towards greener foundry production.
We recognise that the industry is changing as a whole and we want to enable our clients to stay ahead of these changes.
If you are attending GIFA this year we will be showcasing two of our newest innovations, which hold the new JML green branding.