The future of the local foundry industry is promising, owing to technological advancements which accelerate turnaround times, says local castings supplier NI-Foundry, previously known as Guestro Casting & Machining.
The company is involved in projects that include safety-critical castings for the railway and automotive sectors, which are cost sensitive. These projects depend on the company’s three-dimensional computer-aided design (3D CAD) casting, which uses flow simulation for optimum yield and quality at minimum cost, asserts NI-Foundry executive chairperson Sibusiso Maphatiane.
“Using 3D CAD casting as opposed to tooling design provides quicker turnaround times –from casting shapes to tooling designs and layouts for accurate computer numerically controlled (CNC) cut tooling.”
He points out that the simulation results provide insight into the process and any possible defects before the start of any costly development trials. Maphatiane says most older foundries in South Africa still use a draftsman, pattern maker and methods engineer in the manufacturing process, but technology – such as CAD, and CNC machining and simulation – has made foundries more efficient.
Further, he mentions that NI-Foundry is working on a capital investment programme in which the company is installing modern equipment and furnaces from Germany, which will significantly increase energy efficiency and capacity. “There are currently 320 employees on site and an estimated 30 will be employed at the project’s peak.”
The new technological advances in equipment interfaces also enable furnaces to operate at a higher melting speed and capacity, but with lower energy consumption, as well as in an increasingly controlled and safe way, which results in the manufacturing of higher-quality castings.
Currently, 60% of the company’s current business comprises the medium to heavy transport sectors for local consumption, and export and local castings for the railway and automotive industry.
“NI-Foundry will strive to become the leader in the foundry industry in the southern hemisphere in iron and steel castings . . . as well as have the flexibility to cast high-volume castings on our automated line, including low- volume castings weighing as much as 10 t net weight,” concludes Maphatiane.