It is often said that two things are certain in life.
It is becoming apparent in Foundries that a third thing is almost certain.
3. Bottlenecks in Grinding Departments
What is the Reason for This ?
There are too many reasons to list but PS Auto Grinding, suppliers of market leading Koyama Automatic Grinding Machines, is experiencing record sales across Europe, Russia and Turkey and Foundries are stating the same main reason in most, if not all sales;
Finding and keeping workers for grinding is becoming almost impossible.
PS Auto Grinding notes that this is a trend across most regions with both higher cost Western markets and lower cost Central European, Russian and Turkish markets stating the problems of getting labour.
Grinding departments are known as 3D, Dirty Dusty and Dangerous.In 2014 it appears that there are cleaner, less back breaking options in the service sectors that are as well paid and more attractive.
Also, as price competition is fierce from customers and quality demands relentless there is enormous pressure to meet and exceed targets daily just to keep up with production.
Outsourcing Grinding: The Answer
YES: There are less people to manage directly in foundry and safety issues are passed to outsourcer.
NO: Outsourced grinding is still done manually which means;
- 3, 4 or 5 times slower
- Under grinding or over grinding will happen with workers paid ‘against the clock’
- Inspection process will have to be put in place by foundry
- Increasing cost of logistics affects price and adds to castings process time
+ Outsourcing companies have to add a profit margin. Manual grinding costs are already double in most cases than foundries grinding with Koyama machines so become much higher with additional outsourcers’ margin + logistics costs.
Q. Why do outsourcing grinding companies not offer Grinding Services with Koyama machines, offering a faster, better service to foundries at a lower cost?
Turkish Foundries Acting Now to Reduce Bottlenecks
The Turkish market is the fastest growing market for PS Auto Grinding Limited in the European zone. In the last six months of 2013, this market added 8 Koyama machines in total. 2013 was a good year, if not brilliant, for Turkish foundries and the Turkish market still enjoys low but rising wages in comparison to Western foundries.
There are Government initiatives to move foundries out of major cities such as Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara etc. for environmental reasons, to free land for residential and commercial development. Also a rapidly educating workforce is looking for more ‘white collar’ and higher paid work. The end result almost in all foundries is bottlenecks in grinding due to lack of workers willing to do this work.
Take Atik Metal, of Izmir. They have one of the newest and most advanced foundries in Europe and a machining operation to match nearby.
Extremely efficient melting, pouring, moulding, core making etc. all lead to higher productivity, more castings produced. Higher capacity meant seeking new customers for castings throughout Europe.
Knowing that they would not keep up with production with manual grinding and keen to avoid the costs and logistics of using Grinding outsourcers they have just placed order for their 4th Koyama machine, due to arrive and be installed soon.
Not only is this eliminating bottlenecks it is also having a very positive effect on machining as well because castings are ground to the same accuracy every time guaranteed without over grinding or under grinding.
Result is a grinding department that matches the efficiency of the rest of the foundry.
Highly efficient machines, 3 to 4 times faster than any manual grinder 24/7, that are very reliable with low running costs
Simple to program, edit and operate
Labour requirements are very low (I machine replaces 3 men) and conditions are now clean and safe as grinding is totally enclosed. This is a job that workers want and will stay with Atik
Castings are no longer lying in foundry but are ground, then painted and machined ready for despatch and invoicing
The Future of Grinding Departments
Paul Smith, Managing Director of PS Auto Grinding Limited, Distributors of Koyama Automatic Grinding Machines throughout the European zone says;
“To be competitive PS Auto Grinding has to increase sales, reduce costs continually, and maintain necessary cash for the business. When I visit foundries I often see large amounts of manual labour working in dirty and dusty conditions and continually see bottlenecks, it makes we wonder.”
He continues. “Why does a foundry in 2014 strive to find the cash to pay usually 3, 4 or 5 times more workers than foundries with Koyama machines, have castings unground that are producing no revenue, and require working capital to maintain until they are processed?”
“In fact, foundries with Koyama machines cannot even be classed as grinding departments. The castings are loaded into the machines and the operator’s time is mainly on inspection and any slight hand grinding that is required. Result; faster output, better quality, time to invoice is faster and none of the ‘cycle of rejection from quality’ that is evident in most manual grinding foundries.”
Finally, he adds “PS Auto Grinding has been talking to foundries for years and asking them to view Koyama machines as a ‘Labour Saving’ project and not a traditional foundry investment such as melting or moulding equipment. We would not run our office without computers, we could if we wanted, as we would need more people and do a bad job. We would also not delay the purchase of computers as the savings would start to pay back immediately, and we will have other benefits. Running a manual grinding operation needs more people, which results in more cash to find monthly, and results in a bad job in comparison”
“It now seems that a lot of foundries agree with our viewpoint and a lot of sales are now funded by leasing. Delaying doing something about grinding gives no benefit, as most foundries see that sooner or later they will have to automate grinding to stay competitive. Leasing needs little capital outlay, payments and interest are funded by savings with a surplus, and payback, often less than 2 years, starts immediately.”