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Canadian conference proof of foundries' hardiness: amid talk of recession, Hamilton meeting stresses technology, quality and the urgency of environmental regulations compliance.

The current business recession is clearly a North American problem that is severely impacting Canadian foundries, and its negative effects are showing scant near term signs of easing. if anything, however, Canadian foundrymen are resilient and tough in the face of economic adversity. Many have been through hard times before, but today's economic climate is a little different. This time foreign competitors are delaying a recovery and raising costs as their engineering skills and economic clout penetrate deeper into heretofore 'safe" domestic foundry markets.

Prudent Canadian foundry operators are using this difficult period to reexamine what and how their foundries are doing to withstand competitive pressures. The conference provided more evidence of networking among foundries as one seeks to learn from another better ways to make a product and firm the path to profitability. This networking was evident at the Hamilton meeting in the number and scope of technical and operating presentations made by foundrymen, suppliers and academics who critically examined a host of manufacturing, marketing and management perspectives common to Canadian metalcasters.

It was also evident in the comments of the keynote speaker, Gerald A. Collins, general manager of GM Central Foundry, who addressed the importance of developing in-house teamwork as the means of achieving quality, controlling costs and providing quick and satisfactory customer response. Using hockey as a metaphor, he said that an assist is as good as a goal, thus, the cooperation of the whole team makes a winning game or a successful product.

According to Cy Pilkington (GM of Canada, Ltd.) and Bob Greason (Hickman Williams Canada, Inc.), cochairmen of the 22nd Canadian Foundrymen's Conference, a record 500 men and women attended the three-day October meeting. The conference included 44 technical presentations and 110 equipment and services exhibit booths. Three art foundries (two bronze, one aluminum) were among the exhibitors.

Among the presenters was Larry R. Smith, manager of Ford Motor Co.'s quality training programs, who reported on the two quality imperatives that he said were essential in defining what a good part is in relation to customer concerns. He listed them as part variability reduction and a team-oriented focus on customer needs. He stressed the need to analyze quality control not only in the production of parts within specifications. "It is important," he said, "to integrate the effort of all levels of engineering and production requirements that meet customer needs."

In the areas of environmental and safety and health concerns, spirited presentations were made by Gary Mosher, head of environmental affairs for AFS, Craig McGinlay of Dofasco Steel, Inc. and Dr. David Muir, McMaster Univ. Mosher attempted to place into context the effects of environmental issues on the future of North American foundry operations, and Muir discussed the widespread investigations of silica as a suspected carcinogen. McGinlay recounted the results of a free crystalline silica measurement program and the efforts to control the silica.

Martin Dusel, representing the Citizen Gas & Coke Industry, Sam Carter, Jr., Carter Consulting, and Daryl Hoyt, Wedron Silica, were representative of the variety of the speakers program and utility of the subject matter presented.

Dusel spoke of the new technologies that are the basis of making coke, including the design of custom facilities that minimize leaking coke oven doors, the reduction of sulfur down to 0.65-0.55 and the coke production process becoming the science of coal distillation.

Carter, a world-renowned cupola authority, said that, despite the reduction of the number of cupolas from 4000 to 1400 units, they still represent an enormous gray iron production capacity because they remain the lowest cost melting furnaces available.

Hoyt reiterated that raw sand, while a relatively simple element, can vary in characteristics that can affect mold performance. He said that handling, testing and controlling sand will lower scrap and raise casting quality.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Foundry Society, Inc.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Bex, Tom
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Dec 1, 1991
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