Author Archives: FoundryDesign

Up to the Moment, Up to the Task

Over 20 years Foundry Solutions & Design has established itself globally as a project manager, engineer, developer, and innovator in project and process technologies – in fact as the center for metalcasting expertise.

FS&D conceptualized and designed these automated casting grinding and inspection cells for a large automotive foundry.
FS&D conceptualized and designed these automated casting grinding and inspection cells for a large automotive foundry.
Testing and programming an automated work cell for casting finishing.
Testing and programming an automated work cell for casting finishing.
A conceptual view of an automated work cell for finish-grinding cast par.ts. “Automating the finishing process not only results in lower labor content (per casting) but also improved quality, by introducing consistency to the process,” according to FS&D’s Ralph Perkul.
A conceptual view of an automated work cell for finish grinding cast parts.

Metalcasting has been developing for thousands of years, and from that perspective 20 years is merely a flash, but the past two decades have been different than everything preceding them: Casting buyers expect more consistency, higher product quality and lower cost now, so foundry operators have had to emphasize market-responsiveness over process innovation. Today, proficiency in metalcasting technology is distinct from production; it’s developed and honed by engineers and designers working outside the foundry.

That’s the case with Foundry Solutions & Design, the engineering and consulting group marking its 20th anniversary this month. With metalcasting organizations operating as lean enterprises, limited in man-power and short of expertise, FS&D offers the creativity and ingenuity that defines the state-of-the-art in metalcasting technology.

Foundry Solutions & Design LLC was established in July 2001 when the senior managers of a design and engineering business acquired the enterprise established just six years earlier as a Georg Fischer/DISA joint venture; the foundry group and its capital equipment partner had decided to spin it off, refocusing on their core activities.

Of course, this defined a new business concept — to provide foundry-engineering expertise, project management, and construction coordination services to metalcasting businesses worldwide,

Ralph Perkul and Larry Ernst, who continue to direct FS&D’s operations, had many years of practical experience in metalcasting operation. Perkul is a graduate of Penn State University’s Industrial Engineering school’s metalcasting program and has been involved with foundry plant design and construction for over 55 years, while working at WABCO, Swindell-Dressler Engineering, Foundry Design Co., and ABB.

Ernst is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Metallurgical Engineering School and has been involved in casting design, development and production for 47 years, including with Ford, John Deere, and Tyler Pipe.

The new company continued the projects it had underway at the time of its launch, retaining all the customer knowledge, skills, and experience of the team that had been previously assembled for DISA Engineering joint venture.

FS&D’s first major project was engineering an expansion of the Advanced Cast Products foundry in Meadville, PA (now a Neenah Foundry holding), which included a new building housing a large vertical molding machine. Shortly after that, a multimillion-dollar project for Caterpillar Inc. involved flexible, robotic automation for finishing various cylinder head castings.  “These two projects assured us of repeat business,” Ralph Perkul noted: “Five subsequent assignments at Neenah and over 20 assignments at various Caterpillar foundries. About 70% of our business continues to be from repeat customers, including about 200 foundries in North America alone.”

Over 20 years, FS&D has completed over 900 projects around the world, including 52 greenfield and “brownfield” foundries, with a development budget of over $2 billion. In addition to the ferrous foundries at its launching, FS&D has done work for aluminum, brass, and exotic alloy foundries, including diecasting, investment casting, precision molding, centrifugal casting, no-bake molding, and green-sand molding, including tight flask and matchplate horizontal molding as well as vertical molding.

The portfolio of services available to metalcasters range from foundry “audits” to engineering and construction of complete plants. In between, they may choose strategic analysis and feasibility studies, site selection and master planning, computer simulation and training programs, project management and equipment installation, just to name some of FS&D’s present capabilities.

Over two decades the firm has expanded the scope of its engineering work, applying modern plant design concepts to foundries, like high-density, high-level automated storage and retrieval systems for cores, molds, and castings; Level II data acquisition systems for plantwide financial and operational control; and automatic, vision-based inspection for cores, molds and castings, among innovations that help to make FS&D customers more competitive and profitable metalcasters.

As the business has grown over 20 years, so has its foresight for changes underway in the metalcasting sector. According to Ralph Perkul, at the present time there is growing number of businesses seeking to “in-source castings, from the U.S. rather than from abroad, or to work with companies that typically do not own their own foundries but want to develop that capability in order to better control their supply chain.” That presents new opportunities and expectations for domestic foundries – and new projects for FS&D to undertake.

Another aspect of the 20-year progress is that FS&D’s expertise of metalcasting design and processes now includes well-earned insight to the forces shaping foundry operations. For example, Perkul pointed out that securing qualified foundry workers is a worldwide problem that influences how they invest in production capabilities.

“Metalcasters need to continue to work on ways to reduce their labor content,” he said, “especially in the finishing department, where the largest number (of workers) are employed . Automating the finishing process not only results in lower labor content (per casting) but also improved quality, by introducing consistency to the process.

“Any advancement that can reduce labor , improve quality and improve the plant’s environment are always of primary interest to our customers and foundrymen all over the world,” he continued.

Such insights are valuable to customers because they are based on extensive experience as well as current activity. At the present time FS&D is working on several projects for North American customers who are bringing casting production back from abroad, mostly high-production facilities in the automotive/transportation sector. It’s also involved in several greenfield projects oversees, where manufacturers are “localizing” production of currently imported castings, such as valves, rail parts and truck components.

The history of metalcasting has involved experimentation and experience. The present and future, however, are proceeding thanks to the expertise and insights of designers and engineers, like those at FS&D. “Our outlook for engineering for metalcasting processes and operations is very optimistic,” Ralph Perkul revealed. “We are seeing strong demand for our services now and for the foreseeable future, and this bodes well for the foundry industry.” 

Mueller to build new foundry in Decatur, IL

DECATUR — Construction is scheduled to start in September on a Mueller Water Products foundry that company and community leaders described as state-of-the-art, with a sizable economic impact.

Up to 250 employees would work at the facility planned for a 30-acre site in the 2700 block of North Jasper Street, officials said. Those would be part of the company’s roughly 600-person workforce already in Decatur, where there is an existing foundry on Garfield Avenue and a manufacturing facility on Eldorado Street.

“It is, of course, a great day in Decatur,” Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said during a news conference for community leaders to discuss the project.

“This is a very competitive process. Mueller took a long, hard look at Decatur. Despite the legacy, business is business,” she said. “They want to be in a community where they can thrive and grow, so we’re very excited about the announcement today and how much it secures those jobs for this community for years to come.”

The company’s foundry in the city makes water and gas transmission products, which are then shipped to other manufacturing facilities, including one in Decatur, for final fabrication.

The project is in the design phase, and a total estimated construction amount has not been finalized, said Ryan McCrady, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County.

McCrady said the current foundry will cease to operate after the new facility is constructed. It was unclear what the future of the facility would have been if the new foundry had been located elsewhere.

McCrady praised the community’s strong workforce and leadership from city, state and Ameren Illinois leaders who helped make the project happen. Talks about the project have been ongoing for years, he said.

“It’s a big deal,” said John Thompson, president of the United Steelworkers Local 7-838, which represents Mueller employees. “They’re making a huge investment in Decatur and we’re excited about this.”

Thompson said discussions about the project had been ongoing for quite some time. While rumors have circulated over the years that the company might move its operation away from Decatur, he agrees with McCrady that the existing employees played a big part in building the foundry here.


Brembo Celebrates the “First Pour” at its New Cast Iron Foundry In Escobedo, Mexico

Brembo, the world leader and acknowledged innovator of brake technology, had a successful first pour at its all-new cast iron foundry in Escobedo, Mexico today.

• The facility will cast iron rotors for Brembo’s nearby disc machining plant
• Melting capacity of approximately 70,000 tons per year
• Cast iron foundry is 269,000 square feet
• Aluminum calipers have been in production at Escobedo since October 2016
• $131 million investment between the two Escobedo facilities
• Between the two facilities Brembo has created 700 new jobs since November of 2016
• Second North American foundry operation, first operates in Homer, Michigan (266,000 square feet) which opened in 2015

The first pour is a preliminary test of the facility that ensures all systems are functioning properly and is the first step in testing the foundry’s full production line in anticipation of the facility’s production ramp up. During this test, the foundry’s furnaces were charged and the molten raw material from these furnaces was poured into a mold for the first time.

All systems in Brembo’s new cast iron foundry performed as expected. The cast iron foundry now joins Brembo’s adjacent aluminum foundry where the company has been making its trademark lightweight, high-performance, aluminum brake calipers for over a year.

It is the ninth foundry in Brembo’s worldwide foundry network and the second cast iron foundry Brembo has built in North America.

Brembo began production in its iron foundry in Homer, Michigan last year.

Nuovo stabilimento Messico

Mueller Water Products

Mueller Water Products, Inc. is a leading manufacturer and marketer of products and services used in the transmission, distribution and measurement of water.  The Company offers a broad product and service portfolio including engineered valves, fire hydrants, metering products and systems, leak detection and pipe condition assessment. 

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Mueller Water Products officials announced that the manufacturer will expand its operations in Chattanooga and create 96 jobs over the next three years. 

“I’d like to thank Mueller Water Products for its decision to create jobs and invest further in its operations in Chattanooga,” Rolfe says. “This expansion speaks volumes to our skilled workforce, Tennessee’s favorable environment for manufacturing companies and the strong partnership among the State, Tennessee Valley Authority and local officials. I’m encouraged by the creation of nearly 100 quality jobs in Chattanooga and look forward to the continued impact Mueller Water Products will have for the citizens of Southeast Tennessee.”

Mueller Water Products will invest in its domestic manufacturing capabilities and introduce additive manufacturing technologies to its foundries. The Chattanooga facility expansion is driven by growing demand for water infrastructure products among municipalities, and will support the expected future demand as America rebuilds its aging infrastructure.

“This is an exciting time for our company and we are very pleased to bring more job opportunities to the Chattanooga community,” says Scott Hall, president and CEO of Mueller Water Products. “The expansion of our Chattanooga facility will allow us to address the growing demand for U.S. manufactured water infrastructure products while also investing in growing cities like Chattanooga.”

The company plans to begin hiring between January and March 2019. It currently employs 604 Tennesseans and has additional locations in Cleveland and Chattanooga’s Innovation District.

“Companies like Mueller Water Products are driving Chattanooga’s wage growth and low unemployment,” says Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

“Mueller Water Products is a longstanding company locally with a history of creating solid jobs for Hamilton County residents,” says Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. “I congratulate the company on its latest expansion and wish it every success for the future.”

For more information regarding Mueller Water Products, visit their website.

BOCAR to add more than 300 jobs in north Alabama, invest $115 million

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Nov. 16, 2017) – BOCAR, a Tier 1 automotive supplier, plans to invest $115 million in a new plant to be built in Huntsville in Limestone County. The company will hire more than 300 people, adding to the state’s booming automotive manufacturing sector.

BOCAR company leaders made the announcement on Thursday at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber along with representatives of the City of Huntsville and Limestone County.

“We are glad to invest in Huntsville, Alabama, where good infrastructure, talented people and a host of excellent universities will develop our business while contributing positively to the social and economic development of this community,” said Gerd Dressler, CFO of BOCAR Group.

The plant will be built on a site strategically located on the northern side of Bibb Garrett Road, adjacent to Interstate 65. This will allow the company quick access to be able to ship parts to automotive companies north and south of the Tennessee Valley. Construction is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2018 and production should begin two years later.

BOCAR is a German company with a presence in the United States, Germany, Mexico and Japan. It is a high-end technology and quality-driven automotive company with extensive experience producing high pressure aluminum die casting, plastics and machining for companies such as Nissan, Ford, GM and Toyota.

“Alabama is a premier destination for the automotive and automotive supplier industries, and we are proud to welcome BOCAR to our state,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “BOCAR choosing Alabama is another sign our state is moving in the right direction and doing all we can to attract good-paying jobs for all Alabamians.”

“BOCAR is highly praised for its attention to quality and excellence,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “And when a company like that puts its seal of approval on Huntsville, it is recognizing our pro-business climate and our highly skilled workforce.”

“We would like to welcome the BOCAR Group to Limestone County and we appreciate their confidence in our workforce,” said Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough. “We know that they will be a successful part of our future moving forward.”

“BOCAR is an innovative company that specializes in high quality precision parts and complex assemblies,” said Huntsville/Madison County Chamber President & CEO Chip Cherry. “They are highly regarded Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry and we are proud that they selected Huntsville and Limestone County for their new advanced manufacturing facility!”

FS&D WINS BEST DESIGN AWARD

DETROIT  July 15, 2017 – The Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD) granted its 43rd annual Building and Construction  Award to FS&D for the Brembo North America Foundry

The Brembo North America gray iron foundry in Homer, MI, had been earning attention from metalcasters for several years prior to its opening last spring. When it announced the new capacity project in 2014, the brake specialist made clear its intention to be present in the region’s automotive supply chain, customizing its production capabilities in line with its own product and technologies standards. Those standards had previously been established with a new foundry project in Poland, and continue to be demonstrated by Brembo’s development of an aluminum foundry complex in Mexico.

But the Michigan project now has drawn recognition and praise of a different sort: The project was among a short list of honorees earning the Engineering Society of Detroit’s 43rd Annual ESD Construction & Design Award, with acknowledgement going equally to the new building’ owners, designers, and constructors, with credit for outstanding team achievements and innovative uses of technology.

In addition to Brembo North America, the ESD Construction & Design Award was presented to Foundry Solutions & Design, the engineering design group that conceived and planned the foundry operation; NSA Architects, Engineers, Planners, which handled the aesthetic and overall design, and The Christman Company, the project’s general contractor.

Mitigating the Effect of OSHA’s Silica Rule

The June, 2017 issue of Foundry Magazine features an article by Trent Blake which addresses the silica rule currently in effect.

The new standard, to be enforced starting on July 23, 2018, is half of the previous standard and “requires metal casters to prove that they have implemented all feasible engineering and work practice controls to reduce silica exposure to employees”.

KERAMIDA and Foundry Solutions & Design have formed a partnership to offer the industry a comprehensive resource to develop sampling methods resulting in a silica concentration map of the facility.

This “mapping” strategy allows for an engineering solution to be implemented for reducing the silica at the source.

 

For additional information please click on the link below

 

Silica Exposure

Two of the most respected names in the foundry industry have partnered to provide the full range of services to assist our clients in compliance with the new OSHA Silica Regulations, as well as other Environmental, Health, Safety and Security Regulations.

FS&D and Keramida can assist with the following Respirable Silica Reduction Program:

  • Assembling and Documenting the Exposure Control Plan
  • Exposure Studies and Mapping
  • Evaluation of Existing Processes and Practices (Foundry Audit) to   Determine Source and Work Practice Reduction Opportunities
  • Reassess Respirable Silica Exposure Levels
  • Investigate and Recommend Ventilation / Air Pollution Control Improvements
  • Assistance with Process Control Improvement Implementation and Related   Services

 

Values are recorded by area on a plant layout image

 

 

A visual representation of silica loading is generated

 

 

STAR PIPE PRODUCTS announces

STAR PIPE PRODUCTS ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF JENSEN INTERNATIONAL

THE STAR PIPE PRODUCTS  NEWS

OKLAHOMA CITY  September 15, 2016 – The state of Oklahoma and Star Pipe Products today announced that Star Pipe Products has acquired the assets of Jensen International, headquartered in Coffeyville, Kan., and its subsidiary, Jencast of South Coffeyville. Jensen International is a diversified manufacturer providing casting, machining, metal fabrication, assembly and production of customized cast iron and ductile iron products. The acquisition will allow Star Pipe to continue the operation of manufacturing domestically made cast iron and ductile iron products in South Coffeyville. The company intends to expand the existing facility in Oklahoma and install new and updated equipment.

The company will retain the current workforce and expects to create approximately 260 new jobs over the next five years. The direct investment is expected to be in excess of $40 million.

Foundry Solutions & Design has been chosen to provide the engineering service.

Brembo Celebrates First Pour at All-New Cast Iron Foundry in Homer, Michigan

Brembo, the world leader and acknowledged innovator of brake technology, conducted the first pour at its all-new cast iron foundry recently completed in Homer, Michigan. The first pour is a preliminary test of the facility that ensures all systems are functioning properly and is the first step before production ramp up begins.

During this test, the foundry’s furnaces were charged and the molten raw material from these furnaces was poured into a mold for the first time. All systems in Brembo’s new cast iron foundry performed as expected.

The Homer cast iron foundry is the fourth in Brembo’s worldwide foundry network and the first Brembo cast iron foundry in North America.The foundry is also the third manufacturing facility that Brembo has expanded or built at the Homer, Michigan manufacturing site.

“The startup of our new, state of the art foundry in Homer is further proof of Brembo’s commitment to Michigan and is a key component of Brembo’s continued global expansion”, said Matteo Tiraboschi, deputy executive chairman, Brembo S.p.A.  “The growth of our Homer operation exemplifies our commitment to the North American market, the top geographic market for Brembo worldwide.”

“Having our own dedicated foundry in the United States allows us to have maximum control over our process and costs. Our customers benefit by having a dedicated, fully integrated manufacturing process for their brake components,” added Dan Sandberg, president and chief executive officer, Brembo North America.

 

Construction on the 266,000 square foot foundry began in 2015. Brembo will begin production ramp up next month in May and the foundry is expected to be fully operational in 2017.The foundry is adjacent to Brembo’s 440,000 square foot facility that machines discs and drums for the original equipment market. Brembo also operates a caliper and corner module assembly facility at the same location. Since purchasing the Homer disc plant in 2007, as part of the acquisition of Hayes Lemmerz’s brake business, Brembo has continuously expanded its footprint in Michigan. Construction of Brembo’s North American headquarters and Research and Development Center, in Plymouth, Michigan, took place in 2009.The following year, the Homer caliper assembly building was constructed. Since 2009, the Homer disc plant has been expanded three times. Brembo invested $100 million into the Homer cast iron foundry. At full capacity, it will produce an annual output of 80,000 tons of brake disc castings. The foundry operations will cover an area of approximately 300,000 square feet and will create 250 jobs at the foundry and at Brembo’s North American Headquarters in nearby, Plymouth, Michigan.