American Foundry Group - Alloy Division
Conversion from Greensand Jolt Squeeze to No Bake Carousel Molding
AFG Bixby was a profitable and hard working greensand operation. They are producers of steel castings and in this facility, flask sizes went from 12x12 up to 24x24. All molding was jolt squeeze. The sand system consisted of a basic muller, fed manually. Facing sand was used on 100% of molds using a secondary, manual muller. Shakeout was onto the floor. Castings were hand picked, allowed to cool, manually loaded into a table blast, then went to finishing. Each step of the operation was labor intense, as was practically every greensand operation of the vintage of this plant.
AFG was producing 7000 molds / month and 100 tons / month with 100+ employees. There were two shifts of molding and two shifts of finishing. The average time a casting stayed at the plant was 3-4 weeks.
AFG was fortunate to have a very good labor source that did a good job of productivity as compared to other greensand foundries. However, ownership and management of this foundry wanted something more.
Del Sol was offered the opportunity to bid ideas and equipment on this project to AFG. AFG was a customer of Del Sol’s prior on their melt deck with furnace refractories and an M200 Palmer mixer that we were able to supply AFG for their small no bake operation. In the many hours that Del Sol spent on the melt deck, we were able to spend time in the foundry and watch its operation. So, when the opportunity came to bid the potential no bake operation, we knew the flow and methodologies of the plant and where AFG management wanted to see this place in the future.
Based on the request from AFG, Del Sol began the process of measuring and laying out the existing facility. Within a CAD format, we began the process to laying in appropriate equipment for the task. Most of the equipment was to be new but some was equipment that AFG had bought on the used market that was appropriate to the task.
AFG asked Del Sol to specify no bake equipment that could produce 40+ molds per hour using their existing matchplate tooling. This is something that had not been done before, but with our background in greensand conversions and our solid relationship with Palmer Manufacturing, we set to the task.
When I worked for Palmer, we spent a great deal of effort developing and refining our no bake carousel molding systems. This is a very cost effective, simple, and easy to run method of no bake molding. Why?
- Few moving parts
- Few spare parts
- Simple design
- Small footprint
- Easy to maintain
Palmer and Del Sol designed a matchplate carousel molding system for AFG with a minimum target mold rate of 40 molds / hour. AFG ownership asked for a great deal of automation in the system so that is what was designed and built.
From a highly automated molding system, mold halves are fed to two manual mold handlers for closing. Once molds are closed, they are fed onto one of multiple high quality gravity roller conveyor lines (specified and supplied by Del Sol) to deliver the molds to pouring. AFG uses weights to counteract ferrostatic pressure and this worked well with the new system. The molds go right in front of AFG’s existing melt deck minimizing wasted material movement.
After pouring and cooling, the molds are simply dumped into a vibratory shakeout conveyor (specified by Del Sol and built by one of our vendors). The sand and castings are conveyed to a Didion 10 tph media drum. The sand is transferred to a Palmer 10 TPH cooler classifier, then transported by an Alb. Klein Plug-Flow pneumatic transporter back to silos for re-use.
Castings continue through the Didion drum (eliminating the first blast operation) then are conveyed directly to cut off and arc air booths (designed by AFG). Once the risers are removed, the castings are sent to heat treat then transferred to a new finishing area for grinding.
- Molding is now one shift, not two.
- Melt and pour is 1.5 - 2 shifts just to keep up with molding
- SURPRISE – Finishing is down to one shift. The increase in casting quality and reduction of weld rework has drastically decreased the average time a casting spends in finishing.
- SURPRISE – Work in Process at the plant is now 5-10 days including heat treat instead of 3-4 weeks. THIS IS HUGE FOR ANY OF YOU OUT THERE THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TOTAL DOLLARS IN THE PLANT. Think about how much money moved from WIP to the bottom line in this change.
- Labor headcount is down to _80___ while tonnage is at _100___ tons/month
- The Palmer Carousel is running an average of 45 molds / hour and AFG has recently upgraded a few equipment pieces to push it even further. 55 molds per hour
- AFG now has a highly productive, fully modern no bake foundry with which to expand its casting offerings. They are proud to show off their new facility and it really looks great. So many wasted labor steps were eliminated that their employees can now concentrate on making high quality castings rather than just moving piles for stuff from one location to another. The equipment is no taking care of many of the monotonies of production rather than employees breaking their backs.
We want to give a lot of credit to the group at American Foundry Group – Bixby. Without inspired leadership, a can do attitude, and a persistent production crew that helped this process work, it may not have worked. But, AFG committed to the process, the design, and can now reap the rewards of their investment.
We are very proud to have them as a customer and look forward to watching them continue to flourish in this very competitive time.
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