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AFS Services: Technical Division.

While AFS is no longer just a technical society, it is and will continue to be the technical society of and for the foundry industry in North America. That responsibility and challenge remains undiluted and undiminished.

There will be changes, but the importance of the technical programs and services aimed at satisfying the mission of "advancing the sciences related to the manufacture and utilization of metal castings will not decline. It becomes increasingly apparent that our industry's competitive survival rests squarely on it technological base.

Technical programs and services at AFS are the joint responsibility of the technical council and the technical staff.

Technical Council

The council-composed of the leadership of the technical divisions of AFS-provides policy direction and coordination for the divisions and their member committees. The 88 committees, comprised of nearly 800 volunteer members, are one of the principal strengths of AFS. The committees, grouped into I I divisions, function as forums for the communication, exchange and evaluation of information. They are charged with identifying the technological needs of the industry and endeavoring to satisfy those needs by: collectively writing technical manuals, sponsoring technical conferences, securing the annual congress program, including paper reviews, recommending AFS research proposals, organizing the development of and evaluating projects with committees and publishing the results, and teaching CMI courses.

Most AFS books are developed and written by committee members. Each annual Casting Congress, the Society's annual meeting, is the product of the divisions, with heavy direct participation by committee members. With very few exceptions, AFS research projects originate in a technical committee. Most CMI courses have one or more committee directors. The list goes on.

Technical Staff

The AFS technical staff is a small but essential group of experts well-versed in a variety of technical subjects. Available to serve the members, the staff:

* responds to 'hot line" requests for information,

* offers engineering/environmental field services,

* develops foundry-specific computer software,

* manages and develops research efforts and funding,

* edits and publishes technical books,

* organizes technical conferences,

* manages the program development for the annual congress,

* provides environmental lab testing, offers various library/information services to the industry, and

* provides liaison to the technical committees.



With its decades of experience in all metals and processes, together with the vast resources available to them, the technical staff is able to offer AFS members a variety of engineering services.

These services can be categorized under three major headings: problem solving, operations overview and engineering recommendations.

Problem solving, or identifying a particular defect or casting problem, can be difficult.

The AFS technical staff is available to render unbiased opinions as well as to present suggestions to correct problems and enable the production of quality castings.

Operations overview, or an audit, can be performed by an AFS staff member. After touring your foundry and studying the various departments and personnel, the AFS staff member will offer comments and recommendations to improve your operation. This overview will be presented to either key management personnel or be reviewed in a summary meeting where observations can be discussed on a one-on-one basis with individual department heads.

Engineering recommendations are one of the most valuable services performed by members of the technical staff. This encompasses many areas, from discussions to brainstorming or seeking advice in regard to plant expansion, new equipment placement and plant renovations, to recommendations for gating and risering changes.

The services of the technical staff are only a phone call away. And if you have a question about a specific problem, there is the AFS "hot line." The 'hot line' is open any time during headquarters' office hours. With a phone call, AFS members can discuss, first-hand, specific problems with a member of the AFS technical staff.

Environmental Affairs

There has been an explosion in the number of environmental regulations imposed on foundries in recent years.

This has been followed by a parade of experts and sales people who are more than willing to help interpret the latest laws or provide a variety of cures to solve a foundry's problems.

The Environmental Affairs Department is the ear and sounding board that foundries can use and rely on to express their concerns and to find out what's going on.

Through its technical committee structure, the Environmental Affairs Department provides a network for the foundry industry's collective experiences on solving environmental, safety and health problems. From this exchange spring state-of-the-art manuals and modem casting articles that act as the chronicles of our industry's environmental progress. The department acts as the fertile ground to nurture and promote this progress.

Specific services provided by the Environmental Affairs Department include:

* Environmental Affairs Conference, an annual event, brings together industry leaders to hear the latest information on health, safety and environmental issues. it provides the forum to share and learn from others about how they overcame their frustrations and solved problems.

* One-on-one discussions are available with AFS experts to review a member's specific concerns about the application of regulations to their operations. Complex scientific/engineering terms are put into plain English. The toxic effects of chemicals are explained and preventive measures worked out before a foundry has to find out from first-hand experience. EPA's own hot line personnel suggest that foundries call the Environmental Affairs Department to answer questions on how to fill out a toxic release report, such as the SARA Section 313 Form R. On-site visits can also be provided. During these visits, occupational exposures to toxic materials can be sampled, evaluated then translated into actions to improve the workplace atmosphere. Environmental and OSHA self-audits are also available.

* LBK Environmental Services Laboratory, accredited by A.I.H.A., was created in 1978 to support on-site visit field services and to provide service to the entire industry. A commercial facility, the lab provides expert analytical services for environmental samples, specializing in the foundry industry. This specialization has resulted in a wealth of experience on how to properly analyze samples from the complex foundry matrix. The liabilities are too great for foundries to rely on possible false positives, which are the result of any other laboratory's inexperience with the foundry industry.

To further protect foundries from additional legislation and increased liability, department staff and members of the technical committees are involved at both the state and federal level in the regulatory process. Comments are submitted on proposed regulations, and meetings are held with government agency personnel to ensure they understand the foundry industry. Regulations are analyzed, and the true impact is explained. Activities are coordinated with other trade groups (steel, coke, sand, chemical and scrap, to name a few) since many unnecessary regulations threaten the viability of all of our country's basic industries.

While current activities are focused at the regulatory agencies, future efforts are aimed at the legislative process that leads to these regulations. By teaming with the Governmental Affairs Department, our industry's environmentalists have a much more effective means to make their voices heard in Congress.

AFSoftware Service

In the early 1980s, AFS recognized the need to provide technical support in the area of computer software - AFSoftware Service was formed in 1982. The goal of the AFSoftware Service, then and now, is to improve a member foundry's efficiency and productivity through the use of computer technology. To achieve this goal, AFSoftware has developed programs in four key areas: sales, support, training and advice.

* Sale of appropriate software is the main purpose of the AFSoftware Service. Software is being created for the specific needs of the metalcaster. Both AFS-sponsored packages as well as the best of outside software have been added to the AFSoftware Library of foundry applications. These packages are improved and updated on a periodic basis to ensure that each program is current, both from a technological and usability standpoint. A greater effort is now in place, not only to develop additional programs at AFS, but also to coordinate research programs so that software created as a part of research will become commercially available to all foundries.

Support on all AFS software is available over the telephone. A computer bulletin board system is also in the works, where interested people can call in using a modem to see what is new in the software area. This same hookup can be used to send and receive files, so the latest program changes can be sent out over the telephone. With appropriate software, it is even possible for AFSoftware support staff to control a member's program from a remote site-actually analyzing a problem as it occurs on your computer.

Training through a full selection of seminars is conducted at the computer lab at AFS headquarters. Seminars are typically one- or two-day sessions on a specific software package. Each session covers background, theory, demonstration and hands-on experience using the program. These seminars can also be conducted at your foundry.

Advice: while there are many areas in which AFSoftware does not have a specific software package, such as maintenance management or sand control, the AFSoftware staff maintains lists on the availability of such programs. With a single phone call, you can save a tremendous amount of time finding the software you need.


AFS has long recognized the importance of research in the advancement of the metalcasting industry. To maximize limited research funds and to ensure that these dollars are directed toward programs that will produce a significant impact, AFS has appointed a Research Board.

The Research Board is comprised of five members who serve five-year terms. Each member serves as chairman in the last year of their term. One new member is added annually. Members are chosen to strike a balance of technical expertise on the Board. Members are also chosen on the basis of managerial experience. They are assigned the responsibility of coordinating the research plans for the various divisions of AFS and approving individual projects proposed by the committees.

Available research funds are seldom adequate to provide for all of the programs and projects proposed by the committees. So one of the Board's most important functions is to administer these funds to the projects that will have the most impact on the industry. These projects are usually part of a division research plan or address a specific area of importance as determined by a committee.

To be considered for AFS research funds, programs or projects must either impact casting market share or reduce foundry costs. Other guidelines evaluate whether programs will:

* reduce environmental risk,

* improve productivity,

* reduce energy consumption,

* generate economic impact,

* expand casting markets, or

* address effective technology transfer,

Another important selection criteria is method of funding. There are multiple ways to fund projects including:

AFS research funds, which are primarily generated from corporate memberships in AFS and CastExpo revenues. Participant funding, where individual member or nonmember companies have a vested interest in joining research projects.

In-kind funding in which participants have the ability to perform some of the research activities as a contribution to the project.

Matching funds combine AFS and participant funding on a predetermined matching formula. Government funding in which either state or national government grants or matches industry funds. in all cases, AFS attempts to leverage research funds to the maximum extent. For example, if two projects have equal industry impact, the Research Board will consider the possible leveraging of both to determine which will offer the optimal opportunity.

The final consideration is the length and scope of the project. Many projects may require substantial funds for two or three years or even longer. A decision to fund a multiyear program can have long-range impact. If a large amount of funds are committed during the current year on multiyear programs, funding in subsequent years for new programs may be severely limited. The Board must weigh these decisions carefully to ensure that there will be funds available in the future for new research projects.

Library Services

The AFS Library is more than an assemblage of books and journals. It is a comprehensive array of information services that are foundry industry-specific and readily available through the AFS librarian.

Of course, there are the expected books, magazines and reports-perhaps the most complete library of foundly/ metallurgical technology available in the English language. The AFS Library also offers:

* Technical literature searches on any foundry-related subject. Our electronic memory has recently been expanded by 500%. This service is as close as your phone.

* Metalcasting abstract service is a monthly service that provides articles, reports and books covering a wide range of metalcasting topics. This service is available at no charge to corporate members and at a modest cost to others. Each issue contains summaries of technical articles from around the world. Any of approximately 80 articles per issue can be ordered in their entirety at a nominal cost.

* Information retrieval is a service in which AFS Transaction papers or copies of articles from other AFS publications can be faxed the same day at a small cost.

Compiled literature series is an ongoing effort to provide a comprehensive collection of authoritative technical articles on given areas of technology such as Sand Reclamation, Austempered Ductile Iron, Expendable Pattern Casting Process and others. These are offered to the industry as AFS's recommended reading on these subjects.

Videotapes on a variety of subjects are also available, on a sales or rental basis, through the library. This service is gradually expanding as we convert our film library to video.

Special Publications

Special Publications is the AFS department responsible for publishing the wide variety of books and special reports offered by the Society. AFS is considered to be the world's largest publisher of foundry-related books and other metalcasting information, offering more than 150 titles on foundry-specific topics.

Published annually since 1896, AFS Transactions is chief among these publications. Transactions is the compiled volume of papers presented at the annual AFS Casting Congress, which were accepted for publication after technical review. This body of work is renowned worldwide as the finest and most current source of information on international foundry technology, operations and research.

In addition to the Transactions, AFS Special Publications produces an array of books on subject matter ranging from process control to the reclamation of chemically bonded sands. Books and reports are available on every major casting and molding process and every foundry process from quality control to sand testing, as well as all major cast metals. Reference works are also published to serve a variety of needs from the vocational education student and teacher to metallurgical engineering students and graduate level professors.

Under the guidance of the Publications/Communications Committee, the Special Publications Department selects and prioritizes the books and reports it will publish, based on market demand and needs of the foundly industry. Like the other AFS Departments, Special Publications, which has traditionally specialized in technical information, will expand its activities in other areas with the development of the AFS Management Division.

In some instances, authors are sought to write manuscripts on specialized topics, which will be produced as an AFS book. In most cases, though, AFS publications and their updates are the result of Committee work. Two examples of this will be evident this fi.11 when The Ductile Iron Handbook, developed by the Molten Metal Processing Committee 5-L), and the Investment Casting Handbook, produced by the Applications Committee (6-D) of the Investment Casting Division, will become available.

In addition to books and reports, AFS Special Publications also produces wall charts of metal structures for use in metallurgical and metallographic laboratory work.

AFS publications are made available to our members through our mail-order catalog, direct-sale purchase at the annual Casting Congress and at the many AFS-sponsored conferences throughout North America.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:American Foundrymen's Society
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Previous Article:AFS Services: Management Division.
Next Article:The alphabet soup of economics; or why I'm an "Xer." (Editorial)

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