Benefits of Remanufactured Machinery Solutions
- Remanufacturing existing machinery to today’s modern specifications
- Added productivity with additional ancillary solutions that take advantage of latest technology
This article examines how repurposing (re-remanufacturing) older equipment and breathing new life with the latest technologies at greatly reduced costs and faster lead times can meet a foundry’s investment goals.
As of this writing, the good news in the foundry industry is operating at high capacity. Many foundries are seeing sales growth in 2018 as they continue to be busy quoting new and future business. As typical, when our industry is chugging along, the rest of the country’s economy is typically expanding; which creates staffing problems, existing equipment capacity is stretched, and new equipment solutions are timely and require time-consuming planning and increasing capital investments.
In response to the cycle of life challenges the foundry industry is facing, many foundries must base their new equipment purchases to address increased productivity requirements, improve quality, simplify operations, and remove labor. Capital projects that address these factors will have a lasting impact on the long-term profitability of the business.
Many of our customers are contacting us with interest in large projects, such as new molding systems and core machine cells, that both require labor saving solutions. As we work together with simultaneous engineering practices to specifically define the business goals with solutions that thoroughly analyze the project’s impact, many of our customer’s plans stalled due to budget constraints or lengthy lead times. It appears very likely that the early planning process is based on outdated or unrealistic cost estimates, which lead to an infeasible project that cannot meet the fiscal investment objectives or outcomes. Secondly, by the time projects become approved, vendors lead times have lengthened and again put the project feasibility into jeopardy.
An alternative that may make sense for many facing these same obstacles is to consider how repurposing or remanufacturing older equipment to meet the technological standards of today’s new machinery. Recently we’ve completed several major projects that are based on repurposing existing foundry equipment that met the stated goals at sometimes up to 50% of the cost of new equipment. The machines are outfitted with all current state-of-art controls and modified to meet the full range of productivity – in some cases with more flexibility than any new machinery available today.
Here a two example projects that led to faster lead times, lower overall project costs, and machinery guarantees similar to new equipment options:
Core Machine Retrofit
Challenge: Modify a high production cope eject core machine to a drag out style, including updated hydraulic circuits for smoother and improved cycle times.
Solution: This re-design included the cope strip assembly to ease maintenance and cleaning, providing accurate separation for cope and drag. OSHA approved safety guarding was added with “control reliable” machine directives. By analyzing an existing machine design and comparing to the customer’s production goals, we were able to identify new design features and options that offered greater flexibility and improved productivity. Re-purposing many of the existing machine components and adding new controls where necessary provided a new machine with substantially reduced costs and faster lead time.
Results: In this case the repurposed core machine was delivered at a cost savings of over 50% when compared to an equivalent new machine and the delivery time was reduced by 8 weeks. The production goals met the objectives for cycle times and core quality. The catalyst gassing system was modified from amine gassing to CO2 gassing, thus eliminating the need for additional amine delivery systems and air pollution control.
Repurposing a Tight Flask Mold Line
Challenge: Using a de-commissioned mold handling line as the basic foundation for a complete newly designed tight flask index mold line.
Solution: Working with the customer to update an existing low production mold line into a state-of-art highly productive molding system, the customer was able to identify an available mold handling system that had been decommissioned. It was necessary to create an appropriate layout that utilized as much of the decommissioned system as possible, re-used their existing four post mold machine and handling and to add an automatic weight transfer system. New handling units were added that created a new mold line able to support the large tight flask production needs and address mold transfer, support, and core setting requirements.
The customer desired a high production solution that offered innovative production interfacing and diagnostic display. The goal was to create a system that was easy for untrained operators to learn and operate efficiently and safely. By adding today’s controls and automation solutions any of the foundry’s operators can quickly learn to operate the entire mold line and production data is exported to the companies distributed control system.
Results: By working with the customer to meet the available space criteria, existing sand system and melt requirements, an efficient mold line solution was designed that incorporated the existing mold machine and decommissioned mold handling units. This particular project would not have been fiscally possible if we weren’t able to save more than one million dollars when compared to a new tight flask mold line. This opportunity is unusual as it’s not every day that existing large tight flask mold handling systems are available. Recognizing the possibility and partnering with the right solution provider delivered a remarkable and cost-effective system that will be in production for decades to come.
These are just two examples of how re-purposing existing equipment can be put to work in any foundry application. Foundry Managers that are facing the same project dilemmas discussed in the introduction (budget constraints or lead time challenges) should consider partnering with suppliers that look for solutions first and not always focused solely on new equipment sales.
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