Productivity Eliminating efficiency killers in the casting sector

Author / Editor: Hendrik Stüwe / Alexander Stark

Most foundry entrepreneurs are aware of the big tasks at hand. There are many small measures that have a big effect on productivity in die casting industry. Efficiency is an important factor in a foundry.

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Regular preventive maintenance, according to maintenance schedules, means that machines are less likely to break down.
Regular preventive maintenance, according to maintenance schedules, means that machines are less likely to break down.
(Source: Pixabay / CC0 )

Weak IT

IT is a means to an end. "It has a supporting character and can guarantee efficiency in production," says IT expert Johannes Woithon. Essential "ingredients" include availability of the systems and making relevant information available (for example in real time and personalised). If data can be accessed, like, on mobile devices if necessary, processes can be controlled and evaluated more efficiently. This relieves employees of routine activities and ideally controls the flow of production, materials and information.

Long downtimes

A key step is planned maintenance. Regular preventive maintenance according to maintenance schedules means that machines are less likely to break down. Planned maintenance can take place outside production time or during regular working time. Those who maintain their machinery, according to plan, save additional personnel, which can become expensive in the case of troubleshooting. Friedrich Riempp, an MD of an industrial services company of the same name notes: "The service life of the technology used can be extended. This saves the additional use of raw materials and prevents premature investments in new machining centres, presses or conveyor belts.”

High energy costs can be reduced with a photovoltaic system.
High energy costs can be reduced with a photovoltaic system.
(Bild: Goldbbeck-Solar)

High energy costs

"Since current prices for energy, electricity and heat are quite low, they are often not treated with high priority," Riempp adds. However, prices will rise in the medium term. Areas that offer high potential for savings include compressed air, lighting, air conditioning systems and motors in machines and heating pumps. In addition, manufacturers should avoid load peaks and thereby reduce electricity costs. What a lot of people don't pay attention to is that producers who implement energy saving measures are refunded part of the energy tax. "My motto is the cleanest energy is the one that is not needed," says Riempp.

An expert for alternative energy, Björn Lamprecht, also notes that too few companies use photovoltaics, combined heat and power plants and wind power. "Often the solution lies in an overall energy concept," says the managing director of Goldbeck Solar. A photovoltaic system can pay for itself after just seven years and yield up to twelve percent. The prerequisite for this is that the company is able to consume a large proportion of the generated solar power itself.


“Unqualified personnel leads to poor work climate and thus to low quality” is how management consultant Manuel Marburger sums it up. The CEO of Muve observes this problem in many manufacturing companies – lack of communication. Often it is small issues that make employees dissatisfied, which causes them to be unmotivated and therefore work poorly. "I had an experience in a company that manufactured assemblies. The company had to deal with high scrap rates. After 15 minutes of silence, it turned out that the men were dissatisfied because there is no decent coffee," Marburger reports. The boss could have solved that problem weeks ago by talking to the staff and saved himself high costs for poor quality.

"Of course, it's not always such details that drive up costs for a producer," the consultant notes. Inadequate qualifications, high staff turnover and the shortage of skilled workers are bothering SMEs, who are unable to pay top salaries. "It is important to continuously train people, to treat them with respect and to listen again and again to individual problems.

Warehousing and logistics

Studies show that picking causes more than half of storage costs. Plainly expressed, employees search too long to find the required parts and drive up costs with their working time. The internal transport routes are of particular importance.

Producers should ensure that frequently retrieved parts are stored closer to the picking station. Items that are not needed very often should be located further back in the warehouse. It is also important to use the correct storage system for the respective components. High racks are suitable for palletised goods, horizontal carousels or vertical storage lifts are used for small parts or bulk goods.

Automated warehouses score due to smaller space requirements and a very high picking accuracy exceeding 99 %. The prerequisite for an automatic or semi-automatic picking system is an appropriate software solution. Entrepreneurs should definitely check whether (partial) automation makes sense for their warehousing.

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