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Littlestown Foundry increases productivity with new molding systems.

Littlestown Foundry has found that investing in itself is one of the best ways to beat the competition. Recognized as one of the "best" green sand matchplate molding operations in North America in the August 2003 MODERN CASTING, this 70-employee, aluminum foundry in Littlestown, Pennsylvania, recently installed two new molding systems that included two new Indexing Mold Handling Systems from Summit Foundry Systems, Inc., Fort Wayne, Indiana. These mold handling systems were the second and third the equipment manufacturer had customized for Littlestown's matchplate molding systems.

"We were losing business to offshore competition and we felt we needed something to give us an edge on the competition," said Larry Smeltzer, vice president of operations at Littlestown.

One mold system was installed in March 2001 and the second was installed in July 2002. While the molding machines were new technology (see "The Best of Matchplate Molding," MODERN CASTING, August 2003, p. 27, for more information), the custom automatic mold handling systems also integrated unique features to increase efficiency and productivity.

The mold handling system is designed so that after the molds are produced and pushed onto the conveyor, weights and jackets are automatically placed on the molds. The molds then advance automatically to an electromagnetic pouring system or a robotic ladle pouring system (depending upon the mold line). Through the mold production and indexing cycle, the handling system and its proportional hydraulic valves and electrical control systems ensure ah 18 sec. cycle time.

One of the keys to the mold handling system is its ability during indexing to promote gentle mold movement without mold shift through the use of hydraulic shock absorbers and ultra high density polyurethane. "The new molding lines have allowed us to reduce scrap through eliminating mold shift," Smeltzer said. After approximately 25 min. of indexing and cooling time, the molds are automatically dumped onto a shakeout that discharges the castings onto a conveyor and then into a water quench.

The new molding system has not only helped to improve the foundry's bottom line, it has helped to keep the foundry clean of excess sand. "We do not have the sand spillage that we used to, and because the system is completely contained, there is less wear on the equipment," Smeltzer said. "The entire system has reduced mechanical movement, so it requires less maintenance and replacement parts, thus reducing operating costs."

The requirement for manpower for the molding system also has been reduced. Each of the two molding lines is now a one-man operation. Contributing to this manpower reduction is the handling systems' operating system with internal diagnostics that prompt operating personnel with the routine operation of the system. This operating system allows the mold handling systems to be customized to fit any automatic molding machine system of any foundry's unique space, pouring, cooling or mold shakeout requirements.

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Title Annotation:Case History
Comment:Littlestown Foundry increases productivity with new molding systems.(Case History)
Publication:Modern Casting
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2003
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