Foundry Corporate News TOP - Process technology Topic IT-Solutions Topic Centrifugal casting

FerroTrade - Is your company a real-time business?

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Are you able

  • to react to customer requests, market requirements and operational anomalies? Are you able to
  • meet agreed delivery dates,
  • monitor the current status of manufacturing jobs? Are you able to
  • optimise production processes and material usage,
  • monitor energy consumption and eliminate surplus stock?

The new buzz word is "real-time business". A core feature of real-time environments is the availability of all information required for decision-making, that is to say as soon as that information is collected. Simultaneously, most business have realised that condition-oriented strategies are an important tool for increasing productivity and disposability.

Modern businesses are increasingly becoming information processing systems, thus the design of internal IT processes should be an integral part of rationalisation measures. It is good practice to integrate available data over all business processes instead of creating redundant data.

On the global marketplace, size is not all that matters. What really counts in the foundry industry are reliable and well-aligned processes in all technological and organisational areas, processes that can be adapted to continuously changing market demands.

Locally operating foundries are increasingly confronted with international competitors. Global competition for customers and market share is fierce, requiring businesses to increase the speed of product innovation and to efficiently use resources at the same time. The same applied to SMEs: growth and success require a solid foundation of efficient business processes.

In light of these intensifying demands, user-friendly planning software that can be adapted to individual operational requirements becomes increasingly important.

We provide you with this essential tool - FoundPlan.

FoundPlan product planning software for foundries gives decision-makers a constant 360 degree overview over their businesses and the individual departments. FoundPlan makes even the most complex business processes transparent and thus more effective to plan and understand.

FoundPlan is a modern, flexible enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution. A high ROI and low TCO make FoundPlan particularly interesting for SMEs.

FoundPlan is software from professionals for professionals.

Figure 1: Article data, all relevant data can be accessed from the registers

FoundPlan was developed by foundry experts and this expertise can clearly be seen in the software. The structure of FoundPlan is based on the technological and organisational processes of foundries and is organised in a very user-friendly manner. It is this focus on industry practice that distinguishes FoundPlan from other software solutions. During the development, focus was always on the organisational processes in foundries. All other aspects of programming were subordinate to this objective, creating a self-explanatory and user-friendly system structure.

The intuitive Windows-based user interface and the intelligent process linking enable users to make full use of FoundPlan after a short induction. The functionality of the system covers all business areas of foundries and offers maximum flexibility.

Foundries have special software requirements

FoundPlan is an integrated software solution, targeted to the special requirements of small and medium-sized foundries involved in sand casting, permanent mould casting, die casting and centrifugal casting.

Figure 2: Production planning with capacitive machine utilisation


  • Article, model and material data administration
  • Administration of basic technological specifications
  • Material management
  • Costing and pricing
  • Quoting
  • Order processing and scheduling
  • Production planning and accounting
  • Manufacturing documentation
  • Warehouse administration
  • Integrated document archives
  • Process-related quality management
  • Delivery notes and invoices

Special foundry-related modules

  • Batch administration
  • Model administration and history
  • Flask pool
  • Filling chamber administration (die casting)
  • 3.1 Test report and other reports
  • Serial number administration for centrifugal casting

FoundPlan mirrors all processes found in a foundry, from core manufacturing to casting and post-cast machining, all with an unlimited working depth. Manual workplaces, machines and nest production are all considered in the planning process. Outsourcing of cores or snagging can be accounted for in scheduling, manufacturing planning and production.

Planning software should not make decisions but analyse, assess and present data so that the right decisions can be made in a confident manner. From our industry experience, we know that daily operative decisions significantly affect planning or even completely overrule it. FoundPlan maintains this flexibility.

FoundPlan in use

FoundPlan was introduced at Harzer Werke Motorentechnik GmbH in Blankenburg for the manufacture of cylinder liners for diesel engines using centrifugal casting. It has already led to measurable improvements. According to the CEO Mr Wittkowski, delivery reliability increased from 73 % to 91 %. The result is a significant increase in customer satisfaction and better results in supplier assessment programs. Company sales grew by 17 % in the meantime, although we admit that this would not have been possible without a simultaneous increase in overall demand. However, before the PPS was introduced, bottlenecks were already present, especially in the mechanical machining of the liners. FoundPlan revealed the organisational and planning deficiencies, and current revenue levels prove that the available capacities are now used much more efficiently. Order status and controlling reports provide immediate information on the current state of an order and on-time delivery so that an instantaneous reaction to any fluctuations in the manufacturing process is possible. Harzer Werke Motorentechnik is currently introducing the third version of FoundPlan.

The new FoundPlan version contains many proven modules in a new design, for example basic data with costing, quoting, order processing, production planning, material management, quality management with waste and rework analyses, machine and tooling failure analysis as well as invoicing with an interface to accounting. The integrated materials table allows for daily material cost analyses, which makes it possible to continuously adapt any raw material surcharges.

To enable more detailed planning, work plans can be linked to each article. In consequence, it is now possible to plan in a machine-related manner, which in case of sand casting includes the moulding machine and in case of die casting includes the die casting machine nest, punching and cleaning plans, heat treatment, blasting cubicles, surface machining and, if required, multiple mechanical processing levels as well as conservation and assembly.

The work plan register contains all internal individual processes and can be assigned to the article via the machine, including processing times such as tooling times, machine times and non-productive times. For die casting companies, it is crucial to record the machine output in number of cycles per hour. For sand casting companies, it is the number of flasks per hour. FoundPlan supports both formats.

Multilingual module

A designated language module makes it possible to change to a different user interface language for FoundPlan very quickly. Multilingual companies have access to a user-specific language selection option.

In material requirement planning, the primary demand (production quantity) is used to determine the required quantities of intermediate products (secondary demand) and raw materials (tertiary demand). To this end, the components of articles must be recorded and organised in parts and materials lists. This applies to all articles where auxiliary materials, chaplets, semi-finished parts or standard parts are recorded for the assembly of modules and assigned to the manufacturing process. The parts and material lists are the basis for material management.

The customer-article-supplier-material link is used to manage articles, and the module 'price changes' makes it possible to change all prices of a customer or supplier in one go.

The document archive is handy for assigning all drawings, test reports, orders, correspondence, photos, etc. to the customer and/or the article, which makes quick access to any document a breeze.

Production planning commences upon the confirmation of a delivery date. It is at this stage that a whole range of decisions needs to be made, affecting model and tool availability, machine scheduling and material provision and that all ultimately affects the delivery date. In other words, the confirmation of a delivery date and capacity scheduling are the foundation of all subsequent planning decisions.

Figure 3: Job card

Based on all real or scheduling orders and their respective delivery dates, so-called throughput scheduling for the entire production process is initiated. For this purpose, the processing times defined in the work plan for each manufacturing step are used. This means that all orders are broken down into individual steps with start and end times, which again influence the start and end times for the entire job. After throughput scheduling, capacity requirements for each resource are calculated, and the required resources and the available capacity are compared. In the context of capacity load balancing, the attempt is made to avoid bottlenecks by rescheduling non-critical jobs. Afterwards, a job sequence with clearly defined start and end times for each manufacturing group or machine is generated. This overview is the basis for the daily production planning process.

Effective capacity utilisation of all resources is a crucial tool for cost reduction and supply availability improvements.

Daily production planning comprises all measures before the approval of the job order and is done per batch in light of specific delivery quantities, waste surcharges and times from the forecast throughput scheduling process. It is the main factor that determines how efficiently the manufacturing department operates. The objectives are to minimise costs per unit and generate comprehensive and easy to understand production documents such as time tickets, production and work plans or outsourcing orders.

Thanks to its modular structure, the software can be adapted to the individual operational environment. It can be customised all the way to the mechanical processing of castings and mirrors all technological and organisational processes of a complex foundry operation. The user-friendly modular structure makes the SMALL version particularly attractive for small foundries with a clear process structure and is economic and effective.

FoundPlan with PDA system solution

To monitor production processes, feedback about what is going on is required - this is called production data acquisition (PDA). In the FoundPlan standard version, feedback is provided directly at the computerised workplaces. Production data acquisition (PDA) is not only essential for production control but also for inventory updates, simultaneous costing and final costing, quality control for maintenance planning and tool service lifetimes.

The OPTIONAL PDA system solution turns FoundPlan PP/ERP software into an integrated system landscape, thus giving you transparency in real-time manufacturing.

Stop waiting for urgently needed real-time data from manufacturing; get rid of paper chaos and data jumble! Instead, introduce immediate availability and reliability into your value chain.

Jobs are submitted and billed directly on the TFT touch screen terminals in the manufacturing area. Jobs are planned with FoundPlan PPS and visualised directly at the workplace with all required information and technological data via an Ethernet connection. In consequence, instantaneous feedback becomes possible.

How it works:

17'' or 19''' touch screens (TFT) in a dust-proof and shock-resistant housing. The terminal can be installed at the machine or workplace; centralised installation for several workplaces is also possible. FoundPlan PDA contains visualisation and billing modules for melting operations with batch billing, core manufacturing, mould making, fettling (optional with scales) and mechanical processing.

Figure 4: Touch screen with housing

All job and staff relevant data, machine data and times, tool data, batch monitoring data as well as downtime and maintenance times are recorded. This gives you full access to the current status of a job and immediate feedback on disruptions or anomalies during manufacturing. Now you can react swiftly, thus minimising disruption and costs.

The PDA system solution gives you access to real-time manufacturing information for maximum transparency. Each job is correctly recorded, and costing changes can still be implemented for current jobs.

In short, becoming a real-time business is more than just a marketing strategy. It is a way of doing things that is gradually becoming unavoidable for companies wanting to compete on the global market place.

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